in rural daoming, a town in china’s sichuan province, archi-union has completed ‘in bamboo’, a multi-functional cultural center capable of accommodating exhibitions, conferences, and other community events. importantly, in order to integrate the site with its neighboring villages and the region’s natural ecology, the project utilizes traditional construction techniques with prefabricated industrialization. consequently, despite its complex geometry, the project was constructed in just 52 days.

archi-union in bamboo
all images by bian lin, unless otherwise stated | main image by philip f. yuan

 

 

working in an area known for its bamboo weaving traditions, archi-union was inspired by a poem by the song dynasty poet lu you. ‘building can only try to start a dialogue with earth, while plants belong to the earth,’ explains archi-union’s principle architect philip f. yuan. ‘we were trying our best to maintain everything, and keep the most stay still.’ the design team says that the relationships between inside and outside, bamboo and tile, and new and old are meant to be experienced beneath the ‘infinite shape’ of the roof.

archi-union in bamboo
the building takes the shape of an infinity symbol | image by li han

 

 

‘the site is located on two adjacent mismatched land parcels,’ explain the architects. ‘in each of these parcels we drew one large circle; these two circles came together determining the large contour for our building while still preserving the surrounding bamboo forest and trees. within this new boundary we sought to maximize the continuity, horizontality and ductility of the space. the floating roof provides the widest possible view of the pristine natural vista outside. at its best, the visitor is left with a sense of merging with nature itself.’


the tiled roof canopy sweeps down dramatically

 

 

the building’s mobius-shaped roof is supported by a light prefabricated steel frame and is finished with ceramic tiles, common to the region. ‘on the roof of our building the tile is like a pixel, computed to describe the subtle geometric complexity of this continuous roof,’ the architects continue. ‘in this way the tiles became the intermediary linking vernacular building language with abstract geometry.’ upon entering the building, two courtyards are revealed, each defined within the curves of the sweeping roof. the open space offers a sense of tranquility, where visitors can experience the changing seasons. meanwhile, a previously existing garden has been preserved in its original state and use.


glass is used to ensure a connection between interior and exterior space

 

 

to assemble the project in less than seven and a half weeks, the architects used a method of digitally prefabricated structural wood. this ensured that the team was able to reduce waste while increasing the speed of installation. ‘in the development of this project, abundant research from years of experimenting with digital structural wood fabrication technology was put to use,’ says archi-union.

archi-union in bamboo
the venue is capable of hosting exhibitions, conferences, and meals

 

 

the architects say that the project stands as an example of how prefabrication could redefine and upgrade the production process of traditional rural construction. ‘these changes will not be made in the immediate future, nor should they replace the traditional craft construction closely tied to rural life and industry,’ explain the architects. ‘instead we should consider where opportunities for innovation and improvement lie that might integrate existing traditional construction methods with new technology and new construction methods.’


a range of community events take place inside the pavilion

 

 

in completing the project, archi-union looked at local architecture industry research and learned the limits of using bamboo as a building’s primary structural system. the design team worked with a local artisan who modeled over 20 variations of different weaving patterns using thin strips of material. the woven bamboo chosen for the building’s façade is intended to produce the effect of seeing something familiar but encountering it in a new context.


a sculptural and independent kiosk also forms part of the project

 

 

‘although the project is small, we invested great effort requiring the participation of many people,’ archi-union concludes. ‘digital design technology, architecture traditions, and cultural context are the combined forces guiding our work. in the process of innovation, a respect for culture, a respect for people and a respect for nature can be present; this is what we want from the in bamboo project.’


‘in bamboo’ gently illuminated during evening hours

archi-union in bamboo
the region is known for its bamboo weaving traditions

archi-union in bamboo
ceramic tiles have been used to clad the building’s roof | image by li han

 

 

project info:

 

name: in bamboo
location: dao ming town, chongzhou, sichuan province, china
construction: chongzhou city chongzhong exhibition industry investment co., ltd
floor area: 1,800 sqm
design stage: 2016.08 – 2017.04
construction stage: 2016.12 – 2017.04
principal architect: philip f. yuan
architecture: alex han, xiangping kong, bing yang, tianrui zhu
interior: qinhao wen, xiaoming chen, jingyan tang
structure: jing wang, lei li, chen liang, qiang zhou
electromechanical: yong liu, ying yu, qiang zhou
photography: bian lin 

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