The boiler room had originally been built in 1982 in the city of Taiyuan, P.R. China. Real estate developer Vanke acquired the decommissioned structure and opened it as a sales room in 2010 after renovation by Urbanus Architects.
In 2016, over the course of only four months, the building was stripped to its original structure for a second time, reinforced, and once more converted into a showroom by CLOU architects.
Apart from serving as a sales gallery, Clou won over the client to operate the 2000 sqm showroom as a public building including a library, reading room, conference centre and a café.
Previously dark and cavernous, CLOU architects opened up the structure of the boiler room using a combination of transparent and translucent glass bricks in order for the building to harbour light while adding pre-function and lounge spaces around the main hall.
The boiler room exterior, now made interior, is painted bright red to give depth to the façade during the day. Glass bricks, readily available, were an ideal choice of façade material, given the breakneck speed of the renovation, and the desire to maximise the transformation with minimal means. The opacity of the glass walls changes gradually throughout the day according to the position of the sun while strong LED up-lights along the walls create a red ‘lantern effect’ at night.
The black and white columns embellish the structure and provide the spatial framework for the main hall. To create a bright and airy ambience, CLOU used white terrazzo flooring, Venetian plaster walls, chrome light boxes and ceilings with white PVC membranes. The white PVC finishes amplify the natural daylight that is radiated throughout the façade. In contrast, oak shelving and brown leather furniture create pockets of warm atmosphere for reading and other sedentary activities.
Architects | CLOU Architects, Beijing, China
Location | Taiyuan, Shanxi, China
Technical info | PVC Barrisol membrane
Picture credits | Shuhe