Recently, a service buildings group of Nantong Urban Agricultural Park has been completed by Z-ONE Architects (a newly emerging studio that specializes in experimental architectural practice in rural China; established in 2020).
The project is located in the northern suburb of Nantong, Jiangsu, China, with a total construction area of 4552.8m². It took four months from concept design to final completion.
The project includes 3 buildings： a Comprehensive Service Center called "Gather Grain into Granary"， an Exhibition Hall of Rural Life and a public restroom renovation. Considering the project is located in the entrance area, which is an important place for visitors to perceive the whole park, it needs to transition between urban and rural experience, without missing the reflection and reconstruction of contemporary architectural vocabulary.
The main function of building "Gather Grain into Granary" Comprehensive Service Center, a collection of five warehouse-shaped spaces, adopts a steel-timber combined structure. It gathers a field library, an exhibition space, a studying space, a dining space, and a multi-function hall for variable activities. The design team creates internal ‘light wells’ in every core space by the intersection of the structure.
Each space provides different sunlight perception through different ways of light leading which makes visitors accept the power of nature in different layers. Z-ONE team applied “dimension reduction” to most of the free-form surface during the design process, which greatly reduced the amount of special-shaped steel and wood structure and also the engineering difficulty. At the same time, the problem of laying tiles in large quantities on the irregular curved roof was creatively solved.
The Exhibition Hall of Rural Life used a membrane structure of architectural vocabulary. Its form and texture not only reflect the theme of the whole park but also reflect the unique spatial and morphological elements. The whole building creates different areas of function by gradually changing the height of interior spaces.
While the pure white texture and the penetration of skylight ensure the integrity of interior space and make a small house have a layering of a big space. A Curved long horizontal window facing unique river scenery makes the whole space to be both separated and integrated with the external landscape through the delicate top height control.
The renovation of the public toilet takes into account the overall spatial form of the entrance. It hopes to reduce the physical sense of the building as much as possible. The perception of the building is that the roof is heavy and the walls are light. While the grey space formed by the public washbasin in the front interacts with the reflective material in the back making the heavy material roof present the feeling of floating.