The town of Wuzhen is famous for its traditional architectural heritage. However, before the advent of tourism, Wuzhen was a quaint country town with some light industry, most notably a silk factory bordering the canal. Chen Xianghong, the developer of Wuzhen, fought the urban planning laws that mandated the removal of the buildings, and secured the preservation of the factory, as well of the memory of the recent past.
Built before the modernization of China, it used construction techniques that saved on materials: elaborate concrete trusses carrying a traditional wooden roof frame. This creates a unique character for each hall, which was the basis of our design. We cleaned up the existing structure of all additions and unnecessary equipment, leaving only the luxurious volumes of the old factory as a perfect setting to display contemporary art, becoming a new home to the Biennial Wuzhen Art Festival.
The old factory also offered numerous natural lighting systems, from skylights to windows. Our goal was to use these existing features to create an open and interesting relationship with the outside. Thus, the original human qualities of the workspace were recovered and preserved with their transformation into a museum.
Ai Wei Wei, Maya Lin, Job Studio, Florentin Hoffman were among the thirty various international artist that displayed in the inaugural Art Festival.