Three Courtyard Community Center
- Yangzhou, China
"The city of Yangzhou is located at the edge of Yangtze River in Jiangsu province not far from provincial capital Nanjing. As any other city in China, Yangzhou is rapidly expanding. In a newly developed area in the east of famous Grand Channel, which passes through the city, Zhang Lei designed a community centre consisting of three buildings. On one side of the centre there is a business-park with new office buildings whereas on the other side an old village of local farmers is located. The new community centre is aimed to serve for both, the people of the village as well as those working in the new business-park. Each of the three buildings is composed around several courtyards with bamboo, stone and water in the typology of the nearby villages. They are embedded in a bigger open public park with trees and bamboo and a nearby stream. The single complex is composed of many small, one-storey units with pitched roof. The reference to the local village architecture is obvious. Besides the formal reference of the single architectonic element, the red bricks of the exterior walls and the use of open walkways with traditional wooden lattice-works in the pattern of crushed ice, make the renewal of historic elements in contemporary architecture a success.
Zhang Lei bonds several pitched roof units into an additive structure and uses this method for each of the three complexes. Thereby the square or rectangular form is taken for the interior open and closed spaces, in accordance with traditional space pattern. The series of pitched roofs on each side of the courts give them the appearance of a small village and breaks the complex visually into clusters that refer to local typology. One of the three clusters has a block composed of two storey elements, each with the pitched roof turned around 45º. The visual appearance of this block with its turned roof’s, adds a surreal flavour to the traditional forms and refers to a cultural discourse about architecture far beyond the local cultural context.
Another stunning topic is the use of the red bricks for the walls. They are made of local material and used for both, the construction as well as the skin of the buildings. Two different kinds of patterns where used to create an interwoven texture. For two sides of the buildings, every second brick is turned around and sticks out of the wall. Such a pattern creates an interesting play of shadow on the walls with only few regular openings. The second type is created by using the surface as a blind brick lattice, creating a negative pattern, that has an interesting texture in the light of the sun. In other words we could say that it is a modern interpretation of the old Chinese balancing system of yin and yang, positive and negative, masculine and feminine.
Each of the buildings has two entrance courts, separated to the park with a brick lattice wall that allows a view to the outside, but prevents to look in from afar. Inside of each court, the exterior space is dominated by the red brick witch is also used as a material for the walkways. The limitation to the red brick gives a strong contrast to the green plants and ponds in the small courts. Inside simple white walls and grey floors dominate the buildings. Each of them consists of several small rooms for undisturbed meetings, common in all Chinese restaurants. In addition there are also bigger collective spaces for public meetings and for the use of the restaurant.
The idea to use old well-known elements for the composition of the complex and to split it into three units, allows using it by different groups in the same time without disturbance. But even more important, the use of local material in a contemporary way gave the local villagers a possibility to adapt to up to date aesthetics without giving up their own cultural background. This clever way to incorporate the state of the art in cultural affairs into a local level, and in the same time using the elements in a way that they are understood by the new urban middleclass as well as by the visiting outsider, makes the complex an important contribution to the discourse of localised global modernity. It is a critical modernity that helps to keep local references in the architectural culture witch in many ways is already spoilt by global influence and simple bad taste with low quality in the final building." Eduard Kögel
Yangzhou Taida Construction & Development Company
ZHANG Lei, SHEN Kaikang, YANG Hefeng
Yangzhou City Planning Design Institute
Jiangsu Suzhong Construction Engineering Co. Ltd.
1,900 sqm (100€/sqm)