M Woods Entrance Revitalization

M Woods Entrance Revitalization is an urban renewal project in Beijing 798 Art Zone. The site was an abandoned industrial warehouse originally and it was used as an art museum since two years ago. The museum operators expect to have a façade and entrance renovation in order to refine visiting experience, and to improve the recognition of the museum’s public image.

In the past two decades, Chinese cities have experienced a rapid development: a substantial amount of old buildings, streets, historical blocks, and even topography were wiped out and replaced by newly “designed” urban appearances. Our living environment becomes more generic but unfamiliar progressively, and this separates our emotion from the settlement we live on. Therefore the key issue of the design is to rethink the urban renewal. Although our existing structure is not a historical heritage, such old architecture is still precious, since it reflects the trace of time.

Our primary strategy is not to reform the exiting facade, but to add a layer of translucency on it. Hence people are able to sense the old when they experience the new, and read the historical information of the city. Another challenge is time and budget. The project has to be implemented within 40 days from design to construction. Due to this critical condition, we choose the “galvanized iron wire mesh” as main material. By taking advantage of its light weight and self-support quality, a big number of stud works were eliminated. In addition, translucency and reflectivity of the metal mesh turns the entrance façade into a more lively condition, since the mesh can bring sunlight to where it is in shadow.

We revitalized not only the M Woods entrance but also a “negative” green belt which is enclosed by a fence across the street. We opened it up, and embedded a small plaza there. This plaza is under a metal mesh canopy with same material as the entrance, unifying surrounded space with the museum. It becomes a public resting area and children’s play ground in 798 Zone. Meanwhile, some public art activities will take place occasionally here, besides a regular Sunday Farmer’s Market. After revitalization, this area becomes a vivid city node which enlivens the block with culture and arts, and brings out a more energetic urban lifestyle.

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