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Photo: Shu He Photo

Thoughtful intervention: Buildings for a Chinese organic farm

For a farming peninsula that juts into Yangcheng Lake, near the city of Kunshan, Vector Architects have designed four small public buildings that merge in with their surroundings in a harmonious and circumspect manner. The vast and flat topography faced the architects with the challenge of integrating the specified uses in the best possible way into the landscape. 

The Harvest Pavilion was completed in 2012 as the first of the buildings. Thanks to incorporation of translucent materials, the simple structure makes a very light and airy impression, plus its slender flat roof made up of aluminium rods is cantilevered out at four sides at various depths to underscore the horizontal character of the surroundings. The sheltered space below the main overhang not only creates a transitional zone between interior and exterior but also provides protection from the weather, thus making it possible to hold events outdoors. On two sides room-high pivoting glass doors can be opened completely, thus fusing the Harvest Pavilion with the landscape and strengthening its relationship to the surrounding fields. 

A further design concerns the Visitor Centre, which is made up of two new buildings and an old one, each linked by an open pergola walk with vertical timber louvres at the sides to provide solar shading and protection from the elements. The existing building was sensitively renovated and now acts as the farm office.

A multifunctional room in the main volume is used for events and lectures, and has been provided a curtain wall made up of pre-oxidised perforated steel mesh to let air and light pass through and enable views to the outside.  The ridged structure of the mesh panels does away with the need for a supporting substructure, with the result that this outer screen seems to disappear altogether in certain light conditions. This is contrasted by the rear façade, where heavy-looking steel panels interspersed with vertical ridges create an introverted and hermetically sealed impression.

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DETAIL 7+8/2019
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