The Hangzhou Boiler Factory has had a key position in Hangzhou's industrial landscape since it first opened in the 1950s—renowned for the boilers and pressure vessels it sold across the continent. In 2013, operations relocated to new premises leaving industrial relics behind.
After years of abandonment and decay, the disused factory is set to house a cultural center with two new additions that establish it as the new home base of the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra: a 1600-seat concert hall and an office building. The hope is that the rehabilitation and development project will awaken traces of the factory’s industrial legacy, revitalize its isolated context, and activate its socio-economic potential.
Hangzhou Philarmonic and Hangzhou Government
BIAD - Beijing Institute of Architectural Design
Intervening for the sake of music
The former steam drum container workshop played a significant role in the city’s industrial boom and has now come to represent a prosperous era for the Chengbei Industrial Zone. It also boasted the largest single-span building in Asia at its opening.
To retain the industrial heritage of the factory while allowing for new functions and structural safety, the five-span roof and one portion of the facade of the original factory building are removed. These make way for a cylinder mass that has a 1600-seat vineyard-style concert hall at its core – its form a nod to the tubular steam drums that the factory once produced. Standalone, the new implant frames the existing factory building with a curved overflow to its west side to keep its influence on the original footprint minimal. The addition injects airy contemporaneity and maintains its distinct identity without attempting to imitate the visual language of its neighbor. The transparency of the bottom portion of its curtain wall facade invites daylight to bathe the interior, counteracting the cocooned environment required for orchestra performances.
Expanding the factory on one side is a new building addition that houses ancillary facilities for the orchestra, including offices and music rooms. Its building envelope is characterized by rounded corners that gently taper off the rigidness of the original factory. A sun-shading system likewise takes on curves in granting sun control around the perimeter.
Co-existing with industrial heritage
Besides the five-span roof and one part of the facade, all original components of the factory are retained. However, the seismic performance of the original factory building structure does not meet the requirements of the local seismic design code, and certain components, such as the original roof panels and trusses, require reinforcement.
The first floor of the original factory enjoys the wide area and circulation distinctive of factory staging areas. Enclosed by the original factory roof, the main floor area is conceived as an “indoor living room” with an area of about 3,000 square meters that becomes a leisure venue for visitors, ready to host events ranging from music festivals to fairs.
Other spaces are designed as enclosed configurations to allow for additional functions and their corresponding acoustic needs. A 650-seat secondary concert hall is dominated by wooden wallcoverings and flooring. Its interior adds the layer of richness and opulence that is associated with orchestral tradition, softening the predominant use of concrete across the factory.