Winner: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Award: Merit Award for Urban Design
The conversion of the Tongzhou Chemical Factory represents an opportunity to bring new life to an industrial complex once at the center of a working community. The detergent factory opened in 1958, close to the Grand Canal in the east of Beijing, and provided essential employment for generations of workers. The transition that its renovation represents is important, reflecting wider changes in livelihoods and lifestyles as service and creative industries continue to replace manufacturing jobs.
Focusing on people, our approach acknowledges the social significance of industrial sites as places key to establishing identity and community. Recognizing this cultural and physical heritage, the masterplan offers a new paradigm for industrial renovation, creating places for a real mixture of people and activities in memorable settings that link to the past. The site is reactivated by a synergy between two multi-scalar programs; a regional creative cultural destination overlaps a local 15-minute neighborhood center to create a unique and vibrant new role for the chemical factory.
Central to the design philosophy is a productive tension between old and new; preservation of cultural heritage is met with an embrace of the dynamism of new forms and uses. A set of distinctive places defined by the industrial characteristics of the site are activated with a contemporary setting of programs and spaces. The renovation builds upon the existing utilitarian layout of the site to create a new framework for the movement of people and activities, whilst preserving key buildings and spaces that offer a sense of history.