Excerpt: Renovation of Shayang Rapeseed Museum, designed by LUO studio, is formed based on the visiting order; Starting from the bamboo courtyard after exiting the Main Building, to the celebrity statue garden. The original building had a flat roof with poor heat insulation, which was replaced by new steel frame roof on the original concrete structure. A narrow slit, at newly installed roof, is positioned for natural lighting behind the display niches complements artificial lighting.
The integration of space with trivial boundaries:
[Text as submitted by architect] “Within the regional practices in China, regional design is still an evolving concept. It includes the formal design of local landscapes and products, as well as the cohesion, retention, and development of local material culture heritage and spiritual vibe”.
Interpreted by Zuo Jing Studio in May 2022. Zuo Jing and his team invited Approach Architecture Studio and completed a series of regional design practices of space, exhibitions, and products related to the local agriculture industry of Jingmen, Hubei Province. It is after such work as a preface, LUO Studio was invited by Zuo Jing to transform the existing space of the Shayang Rapeseed Museum and renovated its site.
Existing problems and transformation strategies:
Not as a single building, the original Shayang Rapeseed Museum comprised three architectural spaces – the Main Building, the Auxiliary Building (currently a Museum Shop), and Hui Xiang Fang (Archives). The Main Building and Hui Xiang Fang were independent buildings, and the Auxiliary Building was the east wing of the Jingpin Oil Company building. As a result of continuous expansion and disorderly construction, the connecting space between the buildings was the public roadside greening and gaps between the factory walls.
The original site of the museum grew extensively and randomly without a plan. Hence, it lacked structural integrity and cohesion, consisting of many splicing and broken spaces between and within the buildings.
The Archives and its site is a vital transitional area in the middle of the three, its building and site are also looser. To solve the problem of the overall disconnection of the exhibition space, the design team rearranged the interior and exterior in a connected and continuous way. In addition to adding the necessary functions, plus repairing the anti-seepage and heat insulation, the designers organically organized the interior spatial relations and the various irregular landscapes at the corners between the buildings to sort out the small gardens and courtyards with different function types related to each other. Thus, integrating the unrelated fragments and the internal space into an organic and continuous unity.
1. Curating the order of the exhibition route — Reorganizing the site plan
From the Main Building to the Archives and then to the Museum Shop, this is the established exhibition route. The Archives and its surrounding areas were narrow and long. Visitors had to leave from the exit of the Main Building, pass through the field to the Archives, and then through another field to the Museum Shop. The Archives and the spaces on both sides were in the gap between the city road and the oil factory, narrow and long. The contours of the factory wall and the urban road landscape established a set of unrelated non-parallel polylines, between which the Archives had an abnormally staggered and negative spatial boundary. It is crucial to rationally organize the area between the Main Building and the Museum Shop to coordinate and revitalize these fragmented spatial boundaries.
Using the visiting route of people as a clue, the existing landscape elements such as the bamboo grove, celebrity statues, large camphor trees, and enormous round mills are integrated into the design of this narrow site. A 1.4-meter tall masonry screen wall is constructed at the turning point to divide and establish multiple interconnected square spaces, weakening the sense of narrowness of the original site. A master plan (including exhibition route and layout logic) is formed based on the visiting order; Starting from the bamboo courtyard after exiting the Main Building, to the celebrity statue garden. Entering the Archives to its exhibition hall, and exit to the central green space. Followed by the camphor tree bench area, end at the round mill for sitting and viewing”.
2. Establish big through small — The enclosure walls insert inwards, and the furniture extends outwards
Due to the cornered and gaped condition of the site, the original Archives were small, with one narrow passage adjacent to the factory, and another wider passage adjacent to the road. Through positive space strategies, the narrow passage adjacent to the factory was redesigned as part of the Archives’ interior space. This spatial manoeuvre allowed the internal exhibition space to be expanded as a result. The increasingly leisurely circulation for visiting is accompanied by naturally generated entrances for turning and retreating. Entering the exhibition is now ceremonial, and the two narrow interfering visiting routes are now united into one. This is one way of establishing big through small.
Another way is by installing a bench on what was originally a windowsill, that bridges the internal to external. Here is the turning point of the visiting route. Utilized as a resting and reading space, provided with books and information. From a visual perspective, this continuous bench turns the outdoor lawn into a continuation of the internal space, giving a visual sense of broadness to the originally cramped space.
3. The new and the old — structural presentation and spatial memory
From a unified point of view, whether adding new or removing old, is to serve the exhibition better. Such as the added new continuous display stands, top lighting, resting bench, or the retained old exhibition walls, and window bookshelves.
From a structural perspective, this is a deconstructive removal for exhibition, where the non-load-bearing wall is partially demolished according to the needs of the display, and a section of the structural roof slab is removed for the natural skylight. The concrete structure is cleaned from paint. And the remaining old non-load-bearing walls are unified with new structures as the freshly white-coated surfaces for display. By removing the paint, the exposed concrete structure reminds and highlights the presence of the old building to keep the spatial memory of the original building alive.
4. A vivid presentation — exhibition and natural light
The original building had a flat roof with leakage and poor heat insulation. Hence the new steel frame roof was installed on the original concrete structure which solved the leakage and thermal insulation problem through the cavity layer of the erection. While using the height difference of the sloped roof to facilitate roof drainage, the skylights are created so that the indoor public space can maintain good lighting conditions even without artificial lights.
In addition to the natural light from the rooftop, a narrow slit for natural lighting behind the display niches complements artificial lighting. While the constant artificial light maintains and guarantees the essential illumination of exhibited documents, images, and objects, the natural light makes the display more vivid, a metaphor in line with the growth of natural crops represented by rapeseed.
Liu Houli, Fu Tingdong, Wang Hanzhong, Guan Chunyun, and Li Peiwu, the five representative figures in the scientific research of rapeseed in China, are the pioneers, founders, breeding experts, cultivation experts, quality and safety scientists of rapeseed science. The hard work of the researchers has promoted the continuous high-level development of scientific research on rapeseed in China and maintained the technical level of hybrid rapeseed breeding in China at the forefront of the world.
The Archives focus on these five outstanding scientists and display their scientific research work and achievements through precious materials and documents such as graphic records, field reports, research notes, photographs, books, and papers. In addition, the archives also collect books, journals, and picture books related to rapeseed research from around the world, which are open to scholars and the public.