Building area: 2448 square meters
Address: Jiaxing City, Zhejiang province, China
Designer: Roarc Renew
Completed date: 03/2020
Roarc Renew is a Shanghai-based architecture studio. They recently received commissions to repurpose the old granaries as a new art center in Jiaxing, China. The new development is called TaoCang Art Centre. The former granaries, built in the 1950s and 1960 are a 2,448-square-metre building. The firm was commissioned to redesign, to give the buildings a new identity while conserving their original energy and atmosphere. This project and its redevelopment reflect Roarc Renew’s love for the granaries.
“So we want to protect this memory architecturally, rather than destroying everything,” the studio explained. “There are less and less ancient brick buildings in China now. We should learn and protect more.” The granaries have open-plan interiors with unobstructed views. This was executed with arched, concrete roof structures built by local Chinese craftsmen. The spaces fulfilled the needs of an Art gallery appropriately.
The architects of Roarc Renew like to create metaphors between the human body and buildings, and the TaoCang Art center embodies this philosophy. The building is a direct reflection of human beings’ abstract thinking. Although rigid geometry has no emotions, Roarc Renew has established a relationship between emotion and the work of geometry.
The firm believes that architecture likes people, and they want to showcase the empathy buildings have for their users. This building aims to disband the initial notions of landmarks which are to establish power. “The brick corridor responds to the main body, constructs order and seeks the beauty of rhyme. The center corridors converge in the centre, rising, frame the sky and sit on the ground, alternating middays, and complement each other accordingly.” The studio says.
The art gallery has been developed as a landmark for the area while demonstrating how old buildings can be repurposed for new functions. Roarc Renew‘s design does exactly that, it celebrates the architecture of the brick granaries but also vitalizes them with two complementary corridors that are lined with arches and curve up towards the sky. They have designed two slots of sweeping brick corridors. “The two granaries witnessed the development of the whole town,” the studio discusses.
Roarc Renew has designed for the multipurpose functions of the building. The corridors contain the art center’s auxiliary and circulation spaces. Significant internal changes were not required for the granaries. “Acting as the accompanying space for an art museum, the corridors allow for extending exhibition space externally in a way to protect the internal,” the studio explained.
TaoCang Art Centre’s corridors have distinct Chinese handcrafting visuals with curved brick arches. The lined arcades run in parallel to the old granaries, before winding into the gap between them and curving up towards the sky. This design was developed by Roarc Renew to create a dynamic structure that also guides the eyes towards the sky. The monumental design is complemented and echoed the design of the granaries. The TaoCang Art Centre’s corridors will be developed in the future to contain more facilities such as restaurants, coffee shops and souvenir shops to support the operation of the facility. According to Roarc Renew, this development will occur by retrofitting a full-height glass into the openings of the corridors to transform them into indoor spaces.
The concrete arches in the interiors of the space have been left exposed. They have been painted white to form a backdrop to the artwork that will soon adorn the walls. “Through all these architectural efforts, we are paying our tribute and respect to the history of the old granaries.” At the termination point of the corridors, the walls are adorned with a giant image of two wheat ears, made from a pattern of projecting bricks. This motif was designed to the walls as an ode to the building’s past and also marks the main portal for visitors to TaoCang Art Centre.
“The space between the double granaries is the center of the geography and the spirit of the place.”