Following the central government's criticism of Shanghai's lack of cultural development the city government was determined to develop instant culture. 'Build the venues and the art will come.' Shanghai ambitiously planned to open more than 100 new art venues before hosting the World Expo in 2010. This project was designed, built and had its opening exhibition within four months of the developer gaining possession of the site.

The project regenerates a dilapidated 1950s steel factory and brownfield site by rejuvenating the infrastructure and buildings and increasing site biodiversity. What was once an industrial site is now covered with lawn and planting which reduces site runoff and air pollution while creating a rare public park. The design seeks to create a place of potential for a growing art culture. It explores new ways of viewing art, placing the observer in a variety of physical relationships with art pieces. It encourages art happenings and performances by providing balconies, ramps and amphitheatre seating for observers. It provides freedom for all manner of art intervention by avoiding the preciousness of most cultural institutions and maintaining an industrial rawness. External events are made possible via over-sized doors that connect the main hall with a giant veranda and the sculpture garden beyond.

Half of the building houses a public exhibition hall; the other half is to house semi-private art businesses such as galleries and training facilities. In the hope of nurturing cross-fertilisation the semi-private zone is organised around an internal street. Full height and running the entire length of the factory this is a place of maximum human interaction and exchange with all circulation overlooking this space.

Project Team:

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