—— place: subject oneself or subject it?
—— neither; one has to seek a dialogue between equals inorder to produce a new solid unity.
—— Self-Q & A on some basic problems about architecture by RCR Arquitectes
Jiangnan MintageMuseum and the Headquarters of Kingjee Group is located in the National LeadingTalents Pioneer Park, No. 66 Lingjiaoshi, Laifeng Street, Nanjing. It is partlyrenovated from an old factory building, including a small museum open to thepublic, the Jiangnan Mintage Museum, and the office, reception and exhibition areasof Kingjee Group. As the group serves as the developer and operator of thePioneer Park, and the museum takes the history and culture of the park as itsdisplay content, it becomes particularly essential to place the project intothe historical and spatial context of the whole park.
Historical Context of the Park The National Leading Talents Pioneer Park was formerly Nanjing No.2Machine Tool Factory, whose history can be traced back to 1896, when Liu Kunyi,the Viceroy of Liangjiang, established the “Jiangnan General Mint of CastingSilver”. In 1912, after the Chinese Bourgeois Democratic Revolution, thefactory was renamed “Jiangnan Mint of Republic of China”, which was latersubordinated to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in 1930 and wastransformed into the “Metrology Factory” under the jurisdiction of the NationalMetrology Bureau. After Nanjing was liberated in 1949, it became the localstate-owned “Nanjing Metrology Factory”. During the Public-Private JointVenture, “Nanjing No. 1 Machinery Factory” was formed in 1955 and was renamed “NanjingNo.2 Machine Tool Factory” in 1959 until 2012, when the factory moved out and theproject of National Leading Talents Pioneer Park was launched.
The present layout and relics of the factoryarea were all formed after the liberation. Through sorting out and researchingthe historical documents and maps, FANAF had clarified developing process andmorphological changes of the factory area. Also, the models made according totheir researches would be one of the exhibition contents of Jiangnan MintageMuseum.
Evaluation of the Industrial BuildingStructure “Brick Arch Crane Girders” The No.8 Buildingin the park, which the project in located in, is a former casting workshopbuilt in the early 1960s. The main body of the workshop has a length of 60meters and a depth of 23.8 meters. The main structure of the workshop is composedof 3 rows of load-bearing wall of mixed structure with 2 rows of 20 trusses layingon them. Each load-bearing wall has continuous brick arches in lower part, whichconvert to columns of mixed structure in upper part. The 3 rows of continuousbrick arches included in 3 rows of load-bearing wall each has 21 arches.
The existence ofthese 3 rows of continuous brick arches have resulted in the sharp contrastbetween the interior and exterior impression of the factory building. From the outside,the casting factory appears to be plain and dull with pedestrian square windowson plastered walls. While inside, 3 rows of brick arches have been offering astrong sense of rhythm in form, and the corbeling structure and arch couponsbuilt with exposed brickwork showing a tectonic aesthetics unique to masonry construction.The north and south rows of the 3 brick arches are completely concealed fromthe facade, negating their expressive function of architectural forms. Whereastheir significant difference from the upper walls indicates that the form ofmasonry structure is not considered for supporting the roof loads, either. Soit can be inferred that they are related to the special needs in the industrialproduction process.
Through documentaryresearches and interviews, FANAF confirmed that these brick arch structureswere formed out of engineering measures of replacing conventional concretestructure crane girders with continuous brick arch ones, due to the lack ofreinforced concrete materials in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As a patternof industrial building structure in the special period, it reflects theindustrial and social conditions at that time and thus possesses its ownhistorical value.
Problems Encountered The projectoccupies the area corresponding to 8 of the 21 arches in a row. The other partsof the casting workshop belong to others.
The casting workshophad already undergone a transformation early before FANAF took over theproject. The aim of the former renovation was to transform the industrialbuilding into an art gallery. A sandwich floor supported by reinforced concreteframe structure had been implanted in the original factory building, dividingthe large space into upper and lower floors. The elevation of the sandwichfloor was equal to the top of the masonry structure of brick arch, so that thebrick arch could only be seen from the lower floor below the sandwich floor aswell as from the two-story high hall.
Whereas now the clientrequests that the large space originally used as the art gallery be transformedinto the business area of its headquarters, including spaces of various scalesfor office, reception and display uses. As a result, the main problemsencountered during architectural design should be: How to redefine thesmall-scale spaces in the existing renovated lower floor according to the changeof use and requirements. And how to associate the space definition with theretained brick arch so that the elegance of the brick arch construction can befully presented as well.
Design Concept Take a structuralunit from the structure of the workshop to make analysis of dimensionaladaptation.
Type 1: Arch FormElement
Imbedding arch formelements between the brick arches, defining and dividing spaces withtransforming, shifting etc. of arch form elements, making brick arches relatedand continued.
Type 2: “InternalEnvelope”
Setting “internalenvelope” into the workshop, forming small environment inside with goodinsulation performance and own air-conditioning system, making privatefunctional space in open working space.
Project Plan Three rows of brickarches divide the project area into two: the north and the south.A series of smallspaces is located in the north area in the project, among which washing roomand VIP room is set between museum (more public) and Executive working area(more private) defining the buffer space connecting to the hall. Museum islocated in the east end of the north area facing the public space in the park,and is related to the main circulation of the park through an existingentrance. Interior arch form elements divide the museum into three parts each correspondingto exhibition, reception and other functions. Executive working area includes 4offices defined each by one barrel vault, and one “internal envelope” as asmall meeting room. The “internal envelope”, bar and other serving facilitiesforming the sharing space between the executive offices and the open workingspace.
The spatial dimensionof the south area is roughly kept. The east end includes existing hall and stairsto the upper level. The west end serves for open working area where desks arearranged relating to the brick arches.
Arch as a reinvigorated commonplace – Arch has been used so extensively inarchitectural and interior projects recently that it’s almost fallen frompopular to commonplace. Though distancing the extraneous popular patterns, wewere inspired by the time-honored arches within the site that only more and newarches could engender a complete while clear-cut relationship, and it provedappropriate.
In conclusion, theproject provides high-quality spaces of various dimensions, atmosphere andfunctions, highly presents the tectonics of the “Brick Arch Crane Girders”, andmanifests an industrial heritage with unique value in Nanjing.