Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center grows out of the juncture of nature and city

Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center

Designed by change architects, OCT Group’s Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center is the primary public support facility for Chaohu Bantang Hot Spring Town. The building, which is located at the foot of the Juzhang Mountain, is regarded as a landmark that arose from the intersection of the local natural environment and city life, demonstrating cultural heritage and future lifestyle.

The external shape of the mountain and the land contour project the overall plan and elevations of the building. When it came to this specific building block, the architects began to imagine a fascinating and creative geological movement caused by a worm wiggling in the ground.

Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center

As the worms crawl through, a path forms that serves as the boundary between the inside and outside of the building. The node where a viewing platform should be inserted in the wormhole formed by drilling. The building’s morphological curve is a figurative representation of the existing mountain. The steel structure with rigid deflection of the entire building reveals the beauty of earth’s power implicitly.

The project appears to be squeezed out of the ground by natural forces beneath the crust, which is an abstract expression of the geological space’s three-dimensional profile. The building resembles a natural mountain on the site, with its entire roof covered in green plants. To reveal the space, the architects slightly uncover the ground.

Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center
Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center

The building’s undulating skyline perfectly blends in with the 100-meter-long silhouette of Juzhang Mountain, appearing to be pulled by mountains and squeezed by tectonic plate movement at the same time. Without being noticed, inertia is constantly affecting the building’s growth. In the original context, there are native mountains and wild pools.

The structure makes sense only when the intervention dramatically reshapes the site. Without a clear boundary between the inside and outside, neither the roof nor the ground, it is difficult to distinguish the building from the environment. Temperature can be felt from the building’s snow cover in the winter. Insects can be heard from the green shadows of mountains on a summer night.

The intersection of two shells, one of which is the functional space of the building and the other is the grey space, creates a large public platform and double-height space perpendicular to the dome. When these two opposing shells cut and frame the view of the external environment, the dome becomes the most spiritual place where the building reshapes nature.

The building’s shell is shaped like distant mountains, while the space beneath is created by tectonic plate movement. There is a large open platform and a double-height space enclosed by retaining walls between the shell and sunken space where you can feel the power of geological space. The building has the same section as the crust, with a void upper part and a solid lower part.

Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center

The architect’s only touch is a viewing box that is simply inserted into the curvy outline of this building. It connects the interior space vertically and provides a direct view of the mountains. The architects attempted to conceal their existence through design, with the exception of the final dialogue with the mountains, in which they played a completely different role from nature.

This is the beginning and the end, which returns to the first question posed at the start of design: what is the relationship between humans and nature? Let’s ignore the other 90% of the debate.

Chaohu Natural and Cultural Center

Project Info

Architects: change architects
Area: 1500 m²
Year: 2022
Lead Architect: Qiu Jiang
Structure Consultant: Shanghai Wilderness Structural Des. Firm Inc.(General Partnership)
Landscape Collaborator
: Aimeou (Shanghai) Architectural Design Consulting Co., Ltd. (M.A.O)
Interior Consultant: Ipoletz Architectural Consulting Services (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. IFGROUP (Germany)
Steel Structure Construction: Zhongyuan Xiongshi Enterprise Development Group Co., Ltd.
Curtain Wall Construction
: Shanghai Kaixiang Curtain Wall Co., Ltd.
Roof Construction: Shanghai Hainner Oxygen Technology Development Group Co., Ltd.
Interior Construction: Anhui Zhenfan Decoration Co., Ltd.
Landscape Construction:
Anhui Jianchuan Municipal Engineering Co., Ltd.
Lighting Design
: Jiehan Lighting Design Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
Design Team: Yangyang Zhou, Shen Shi, Xingyu Hao, Jun Qian, Yonguqan Yuan, Junqing Li, Mengxue Liu, Baona Li, Xiaomeng Hou, Xiaoli Jin, Keming Bian, Ziting Hao
Architectural Creativity And Design Consultant Architects: Sheng Cai, Hansong Li, Wenjun Yin
Consultant Structural Designer
: Yewei Zhang
Structural Design Team: Min Tong, Yilong Zhan, Fan Liu
Construction Drawing Design Team: Wanqiang Ma(architecture), Lu Ren(architecture), Qinghua Wu (architecture), Chang Liu (architecture), Yang Wu (structure), Mingxing Le (structure), Limin Bi (water supply and drainage), Wei Li (water supply and drainage), Hui Wang (HVAC), Dongyuan Gao (HVAC), Chaoyong Liu (Electrical), Kewei Chu (Electrical)
Construction Team: Guangdong Diao, Xutao Sun, Zhongquan Dai
Construction Drawing Collaboration: Anhui Architectural Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Steel Structure: Anhui Fuhuang Construction Co., Ltd.
Curtain Wall Consultant: Shanghai Xima Curtain Wall Engineering Consulting Co., Ltd.
Signage Consultant: Beijing Tushi Space Creative Design Co., Ltd.
Soft Furnishing:
Shanghai KEYI Architectural Design Co., Ltd. (KOYI)
General Contractor
: Zhongxing Construction Co., Ltd.
City: Hefei
Country: China

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