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The Rural of Dabie Mountains / HOMME ARCHITECTS

The Rural of Dabie Mountains / HOMME ARCHITECTS

The cycling station. Image © Qingshan WuThe interior of the conference centre. Image © Qingshan WuShared restaurant with transport space linking the north and south plots. Image © Qingshan WuThe interior courtyard of the exhibition hall. Image © Qingshan Wu+ 29

  • Architecture Design Team : Junhong Yuan, Xiangpu Zhao, Qiong Liu, Wen Yang, Yifeng Xu, Wang Su, Tianyi Chen
  • Interior Design Team : Junhong Yuan, Jiajue Zhu, Xiangpu Zhao
  • The Client : Xband
  • Collaborators : Hill Architects
  • City : Xinyang
  • Country : China
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The cycling station. Image © Qingshan Wu
The cycling station. Image © Qingshan Wu

Text description provided by the architects. The Nanwanggang village, under the governance of Xinyang city, has abolished its administrative establishment since the township merging and adjustment many years ago. The entire base consists of two parts - the former courtyard of the township government has fallen into disuse while its adjacent grain reserve depot has been out of service for years. How to re-energize these two neighboring and unoccupied collective assets have thus become the biggest challenge in our design.

Restaurant retaining the original structure. Image © Qingshan Wu
Restaurant retaining the original structure. Image © Qingshan Wu
View from the entrance towards the exhibition hall. Image © Qingshan Wu
View from the entrance towards the exhibition hall. Image © Qingshan Wu

The north part of Nanwanggang township was used to be the grain reserve depot. Three granaries were built in the 1970s and 1980s with a short history, becoming the reflection of times under planned economy. Being abandoned for such a long period of time, the entire place was old and shabby and now in some disrepair. The former courtyard of the township government was located in the south part.  Its main building was constructed in a brick-concrete structure using precast concrete floor slabs, which was no longer complying with the current building regulations and required further structural reinforcements and improvements. Although the courtyard has been established for only thirty years and been idle for quite some time, most of the buildings have collapsed.

Aerial view. Image © Qingshan Wu
Aerial view. Image © Qingshan Wu
Lsometric
Lsometric

During the year 2018 to 2020, we were invited as the designer to work together with our partner, Xband for upgrading and re-utilizing this cluster of public buildings that were finally converted into meeting rooms of Dabieshan. The project aimed to activate its values in the new era for villages stepping into modern rural life through the transformation and reuse of these abandoned public assets, while preserving and revealing their original architectural appearances.

Conference centre renovated from granary with a double first floor responding to the site. Image © Qingshan Wu
Conference centre renovated from granary with a double first floor responding to the site. Image © Qingshan Wu

The original building was mainly built in a brick-concrete structure with hollow floor slabs and employed construction technologies such as Cyclopean rubble masonry, brick walling, and precast concrete floor slabs. Poor workmanship was observed, and moreover, there were barely reasonable structural elements. Most of them were no longer in accordance with the current building regulations and required structural reinforcements and improvements, which brought substantial difficulties to the design.

Comparison of old and new of the township government building. Image Courtesy of HOMME ARCHITECTS
Comparison of old and new of the township government building. Image Courtesy of HOMME ARCHITECTS
Comparison of old and new of the No. 7 granary. Image Courtesy of HOMME ARCHITECTS
Comparison of old and new of the No. 7 granary. Image Courtesy of HOMME ARCHITECTS

The site planning followed the original architectural texture and preserved the spatial scale to the greatest extent. The new forms of operation inspired the entire base to be divided into clustered plazas with different characteristics. A cycling station was set up along the road on the southern side whereby the opening gateway was located. During the operation, it has gradually become a vital activity space for the whole residential area. On the other hand, the township government buildings and the original granary were reformed into hotels and conference centres which emphasized on privacy at the northern side of the yard. The open field and water area on the eastern side were reconstructed into a shared vegetable garden and a picturesque waterscape respectively. Through a series of methods such as localized parts on silts, building renovation, and topographic analysis, combined with the reorganization of traffic flows, the two originally unconnected and independent building clusters were closely integrated into two major interconnected courtyards. In addition, the landscape design managed to well preserve the large trees from the original site.

Inside the south courtyard. Image © Qingshan Wu
Inside the south courtyard. Image © Qingshan Wu
View from south courtyard towards the library. Image © Qingshan Wu
View from south courtyard towards the library. Image © Qingshan Wu

Looking at the north side, the three granaries built in different times were not able to blend with the original building form and elevation appearance. Considering their characteristics, granaries were subsequently renovated to shared restaurants, barn-homestays, and conference centres.

Inside the north courtyard. Image © Qingshan Wu
Inside the north courtyard. Image © Qingshan Wu

The No. 7 granary adjacent to the government building appeared long and narrow from the plan view. Its outer wall was made of red bricks and then started to appear settlements and cracking. While the team made an utmost effort to retain its unique structural logic and spatial prototype in the old days, effective reinforcement has been achieved by installing the functional windows based on the original structure and implanting the concrete cylinders to the building facades, which showed glints between the old and the new. The raised concrete cylinders, the original building façade, and the newly added cold-rolled steel windows frames and cornice were integrated into an organic wholeness to connect the entire northern and southern spaces. Through the partial overhead expansion of the township government office building, the narrow space between the original granary and the government building has become a semi-private transitional plaza.

The shared restaurant renovated from granary. Image © Qingshan Wu
The shared restaurant renovated from granary. Image © Qingshan Wu
Shared restaurant with transport space linking the north and south plots. Image © Qingshan Wu
Shared restaurant with transport space linking the north and south plots. Image © Qingshan Wu

The most impressive architectural feature of No. 8 granary was its unique juxtaposed single-span masonry arched roof. The architect kept the original shape and style of the vault. The openings of façade windows were redesigned using cold-rolled steel, and the interior space was transformed into five LOFT homestays with different spatial themes. As a feature of historical preservation, the vault was created into space with strong historical elements while meeting modern needs. Solid wood panels and raw cement were chosen for the interior space, which combined with five courtyards partitioned by natural bamboos has created a calm and warm indoor atmosphere over the original cold industrial building.

Cycling Station
Cycling Station
The interior of the barn-homestay rooms retaining the curved roof of the granary. Image © Qingshan Wu
The interior of the barn-homestay rooms retaining the curved roof of the granary. Image © Qingshan Wu

The No. 9 granary with large depth but in poor structural conditions was renovated into a large-space conference center. Through a similar renovation concept in the No. 7 granaries, sculptural concrete cylinders with a strong public characteristic were added as the core transportation of the entire building, while outwardly expressive the building's openness. Connecting the conference center on the second floor to the northern courtyard through the extended bridge, allowed a direct dialogue between the building and the courtyard as well as reflected the elevation uniformity of the northern courtyard

The interior courtyard of the exhibition hall. Image © Qingshan Wu
The interior courtyard of the exhibition hall. Image © Qingshan Wu
The interior of the conference centre. Image © Qingshan Wu
The interior of the conference centre. Image © Qingshan Wu

The three buildings on the south side adopted clay red bricks, the main material that blends with the surroundings of the site. In order to distinguish it from the residential buildings and to appropriately reflect its public property, the cycling station made use of the exposed structure to extroversively express a stable sense of order that was akin to the surrounding. The exhibition hall and the water bar were built in masonry bricks with various displacements and enclosed by the side-opened spaces. The design allowed the elements of gardens from South China to integrate with buildings from the North, as well as fitted with regional characteristics of Xinyang where northern and southern cultures were fully blended here.

The market. Image © Qingshan Wu
The market. Image © Qingshan Wu

The township government building was used to be a corridor-style building with an original corridor on the south side and rooms facing the north for daylighting. In order to fulfill the function as hotel guest rooms, our architects designed a new traffic corridor and evacuation ladder on the north side. As such, the original corridor was designed to operate as a south-facing balcony and large bay windows, creating south-facing views to every room. The scattering suites brought new rhythms and changes to the elevation order of the original modular rooms. The original government building was made of white materials, and such colour was preserved by using white paint during the renovation. The contract between the white building surface and the red bricks on the south side illustrates its unique building form and functionality.

The main entrance. Image © Qingshan Wu
The main entrance. Image © Qingshan Wu

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Project location

Address:Nanwanggang Village,Guangshan,Xinyang City,China

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "The Rural of Dabie Mountains / HOMME ARCHITECTS" 13 May 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/961441/the-rural-of-dabie-mountains-homme-architects> ISSN 0719-8884
View from the water area towards the conference centre. Image © Qingshan Wu

大别山乡村会客厅 / 禾秣设计

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