The Qiangong Block of Southeast University (Sipailou Campus) was designed by Professor Hu Renlu of the Nanjing Institute of Technology and completed in 1987. The classic 'U'-shaped six-storey university building is divided into two wings, north and south, and connected by a west porch. The garden at its center is adorned with cherry blossoms and wisteria. At the end of 2007, Mr. Xia Bing transformed the interior of the North Wing into an innovation hub for undergraduate architecture students. At the beginning of 2019, FANAF renovated the office space of the North Wing.
FANAF’s design considers the existing foundations of the structure, acknowledging its history and original environment. FANAF’s projects span a range of different time periods, despite the young age of its architects. From the early nineteenth century through to the new millennium, these spaces tell different stories over time. The Qiangong Block employs classic Chinese architectural design elements from the past century. The seamless marriage of modern and historical concepts fosters the development of new, meaningful stories for the present day.
In the South Wing, the first to third floors feature the teacher's office and Department of Planning learning space. The faculty library and International Demonstration School of Architecture live on the first and fifth floors consecutively. The vertical traffic on the floor is served by the elevator and stairs on the west side.
In the current century of classical architecture, terrazzo has had the power to evoke powerful memories for those who inhabit the space. This transformative design not only preserves the terrazzo stairs and walkways in vertical and horizontal traffic, but also integrates the material’s sentimental value into the coworking space and ideas hub. A bar, knowledge center and hot desks add vibrancy to the original corridor. Meanwhile, the custom-made glazed steel frame doors illuminate the corridor with natural light while keeping the office area private.
The public areas on the ground and fourth floors employ natural tones, while the columns and masonry walls are painted white with the former textures visible to preserve the traces of time. Timber-finished floors and exposed layer timber shelves were chosen to add a natural touch. Outside the reading space on the south side of the first floor lies wisteria and other flowers that have been planted for a number of years. The original façade has been maintained while new bay windows have also been added. The conference table in Level 5 has been carefully designed and repeated experiments by designers to reduce the minimum thickness of the tabletop up to 16mm.
Through its considered design principles, FANAF tells a new story while acknowledging important connections with the past.