Silo Reconversion. Shenzhen, China
2013 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture
Conservation of architecture is not only a matter of reserving history and physical space. Architectural renovation is also more than recycling old buildings for new functions. The reconversion of the former Guangdong Floating Glass Factory is an experiment of rediscovering the lost spatial existence and experience via architectural study on contemporary industrial relics. We expected new possibilities to architecture and urbanism can be unveiled for contemporary Chinese cities.
The silo building, occupies the centre of the 4-hector factory site, standing out in-between the main production hall and the sand warehouse. The 78-metre-long building is composed of three parts in plan: two thin steel silos of 5.4 metres in diameter at the west end, four concrete silos of 14 metres in diameter in the middle, and at the east end, an rectangular vertical transportation tower. Likewise in elevation, the building is composed of also three parts: a 6-mitre-high ground discharging level on the bottom, 6 30-metre-high silos shaping the main bodies of building in the middle, and on top, a 3.6-metre-high horizontal material-inlet level.
The studies of the internal space mostly can only be conducted on survey drawings since the internal silo space was inaccessible during the design phase. The symmetric plans and sections of a building of pure function and efficiency on paper surprisingly showed an enigmatic relation to some sort of religious prototype. This literal spatial experience on paper continuously allured architects to unveil its mystery and intervene into the enclosed shadow.
We attempted to introduce a peculiar path route within this gigantic industrial artifact. A series of weightless, transparent and abstract spatial installations were implanted to the empty background after the exeunt of industrial function. Bridges, ramps, staircases, terraces and walls were built to articulate the breakthroughs and intervals of the original spaces. All the interventions are light, quiet and moderate, without waking up the sleeping industrial ghost.