Intact nature: After three decades of accelerated urbanization, most cities in China are tormented by thick clouds of smog and the stench of polluted rivers. Not so Fuzhou: Enclosed by intact forests and infused with parks and green belts, the capital of Fujian Province maintains the best air quality amongst all major cities in the country. The water quality of the city’s Min River is good, allowing citizens to refresh themselves in its cool floods during summer.
Transformation into high density work environment: One of the major Chinese real estate corporations is developing a large scale SOHO district at the southern shore of the Min River, transforming the undeveloped riverbank into a dense urban work environment for hundreds of start-up companies. To build a “lifestyle gallery” vis-à-vis with the actual construction site can provide customers with a “real life” experience of the development prior to its completion.
Completion in less than 150 days: The challenge for the architect was to plan and realize the architecture from sketch to handover within the nearly impossible timeframe of less than 150 days. The gallery was assembled on site using prefabricated steel, glass, and aluminum components. The usual project phasing was abandoned in favor of an intricate overlapping of planning and construction as far as reasonably possible: Foundations were laid once the schematic plans had been drafted. The construction of the interior was well on the way even before the curtain wall had been installed. Three 8-hour shifts kept the construction ongoing for 24 hours a day.
Unexpected Idyll on muddy construction site: In order to meet young buyers’ need for a creative and flexible work environment, which offers urban convenience whilst upholding a close link to nature, the architecture needed to constitute a space which turned the visit of a muddy construction site into an unexpected fun experience and celebration of the riverside location.
Literally built atop a water surface, the gallery is composed of two staggered volumes orbiting around a central water fountain. The upper volume is cantilevered by 8 meters and supported by a single column. It constitutes a floating courtyard focusing the view onto the blue sky above. Floors, walkways, staircases and squares are conceived as a continuous trajectory which provides a constant exposure to the surrounding nature. Inside the gallery visitors embark on a carefully planned experience route around the courtyard - from receiving a welcoming drink at the reception bar, all the way to enjoying the exclusive river view from the full – scale sample units. Upon returning home, the visitor has a last look from the viewing platform onto the construction site and witnesses the “soon-to-be-his” SOHO unit being built.
The “Minjiang Lifestyle Gallery” was concluded and opened to the public according to schedule on December 1st, 2014. Since then it has become a successful venue celebrating urban lifestyle within nature.