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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

DongZhuang-Building Museum in China by Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

August 22nd, 2017 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd. 

Western or Eastern? 

DongZhuang-Building Museum of Western Regions, is located in Tuoli Township of Nanshan Grasslands, 30 km away from Urumqi City, and is built on the site of a previous grain shop that existed more than sixty years ago. Since the ancient times, architectural design which is inspired by natural landscape has always been exciting. The Museum, facing the city in the south and backed by the mountain in the north, has no disturbance on surrounding vegetation. From afar, it looks like an off-white stone rolled down from the mountain, standing quietly and naturally in the open and vast Gobi desert of Inner Eurasia. Part of the Museum was designed as a guest house containing a private art gallery and the other is open to the public where passengers could have some rest. Cement, sand, necessary rebar and least glass are all components of the building for ecology protection and resource conservation. The thick walls and small windows shield against the scorching sun in summer and chillness in winter. The principles and methods of traditional technologies for cavity walls, ramming earth, sun-dried mud bricks and laying stones are adopted to construct a simple, reliable and durable building. The texture of materials is highlighted on the building’s surface to obtain a “natural” completeness of a non-specific space. The design respecting the data framework and ecological cycle reflects the diversity, liberty and obscureness of local life and endows the building with liberty, freeness and vitality. DongZhuang is a “transparent” presence, with no clear internal floors, possibilities of uncertain and multiple applications, and UDLR interconnection. It takes advantage of natural presences in a smart way to protect against wind and snow and realize ventilation and day lighting. The perfect concave-convex matching with the outer space and the existing space chiseled and space “created” as required for the workers’ needs makes a building under the concept of “harmony” and “container”.

a corner of DongZhuang, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

  • Architects: Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.
  • Project: DongZhuang-Building Museum
  • Location: Western Ecological Environment Research Center, 23 Baijiangou Village, Tuoli Township, Urumqi County, Xinjiang, China
  • Photography: Yao Li
  • Design Team: Liu Xu, Zhang Haiyang, Liu Erdong, Zhang Zhong, Zhang Qing, Zhang Jian
  • Technical and economic target: land used for building 1,990 m2; building area 800 m2; total construction area 7,700 m2; underground area 1,750 m2; floor area 5,950 m2; building density 40%; floor area ratio 3.87
  • Scale of construction: 7,700 m2, with one story underground and 3 stories above ground
  • Completed in: July 2016

West part of DongZhuang, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

Design principles:

1. The building shall be durable and firm enough to resist violent storm, sand storm, and ultraviolet ray.

2. Buildings are not built to show off the wealth and test technologies, especially in poor areas, and local materials and applicable folk building technologies will be used for the building.

Nest at the top of water tank, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

rooftop under the starlight, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

3. Good-looking is not beauty, and even beauty often lasts for a short while with the shift of aesthetic trends. A pleasant and well-adapted building with multiple functions is a good building, and durability is a synonym of history, symbol and localism.

4. It is preferable for a house in the desert hinterland to emerge in harmony with the nature and perish of itself as time goes by.

5. The natural light is over artificial light as the latter is dependent on too much input and the sun and the moon are really splendid and reliable.

6. The internal and external space of the building is homogeneous, and flow and stagnancy is reciprocal causation as the space exists of itself.

South part of DongZhuangImage Courtesy © Yao Li

A road in the south of DongZhuang,Image Courtesy © Yao Li

The texture of wall brick and floor ceramic tile is completed under the efforts of the designers and 23 local Artux constructors. For memory and respect, the designers stroked and engraved the latter’s names on the “five stars” red brick. North: the wall body is intensified to resist strong wind. East: an opening is provided for enjoying the blue sky and white cloud among the existence of beautiful small river, temples and mountains. South: owing to the sceneries of green hills and trees, and the smoke from kitchen chimneys rising from the pasture families, together with the bright sunshine and gentle and pleasant breeze, it is a good idea to drink milk tea in the garth, basking in the sunshine, beside the screen work of the vertical ladder. West: one can enjoy the warm picture made of the setting sun shining through the fruit trees, the stream flowing quietly, and homebound people. One can open the skylight of the roof to let in the light of stars and moon, observe the universe, while listening to the twittering of swallows. Previously there were many bird’s nests on the northwest corner, the designers planted flowers and plants on the space between stairs and water tank to build “Bird’s Nest” open to the south for returning swallows. Before construction, scores of apple trees, elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian Olive) and elm in the yard of the old grain shop were moved to the southeastern corner of the square of the village primary school, and then restored after the main structure was completed.

Roof of 2nd floor, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

North part of DongZhuang, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

The theory of uncertain design is obtained from the experience of the architectural design in the Western Regions for decades, which not only requires craftsmanship, and but also should incorporate the awareness from the depth of one’s soul, and quality of respecting natural space. According to the uncertain design theory, a building is compared to a potato, and the seed of the potato is cut into irregular pieces, which are buried in the ground, so no one knows how large they would grow and what they would look like. But they will grow up and be themselves for sure. The potato has its own image and natural skin after self-enrichment, due to the demand of inner growth and external oppression and bondage from soil. The uncertain theory tries to give the space a “space”, which is full of air, sunshine, airflow, moisture, heat and coolness, snow and rain and countless causes and effects relevant to stretching. Then their existence leads to the topic about life and reproduction. Reliability, continuity, non-utilitarianism, view of nature, open view of environment, free and versatile use of the space, the simplicity of materials, crafts and cost, and the expression of the most primitive, substantial and simple “blank” are all the essential thought and action principles of the design of DongZhuang-Building Museum.

West view from the rooftop, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

Fence in the eastern side, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

The place is mostly called “Western Region” in China, and “The East” by the European, so it is hard to define whether it is a building of the east or of the west.

Xinjang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd, founded in 2002 by Liu Xu(one of the 4th generation architect in China), is a national Grade A professional institution that engages in a wide range of public architecture design and relevant engineering consultancy business.

Yudian follows the value of “cultivating quality awareness, building a corporate image, making quality products of the era, creating a model of the century”. It strictly adheres to its quality management system and forms a complete and efficient system for quality control, construction cost control and operation management in the whole process, ensuring that all work is done efficiently, in good quality and in an orderly manner and providing clients with safe, proper and effective design works.

View the sky from courtyard, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

A corner of rooftop, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

About the Project Principal

Liu Xu, graduated from Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology (formerly known as Xi’an College of Metallurgy and Architecture) in 1982 with a degree in architecture. He has obtained multiple titles over the years, including professorate senior architect in 1996, specialist enjoying special allowance of the State Council in 1997, national outstanding scientific and technical worker, national first class registered architect, national registered investment counselor, China APEC architect, one of “China Top 100 Architects”, standing director of Architectural Society of China, chief design officer of Xinjiang Yudian Architecture Design Research Institute Co., Ltd. and chief executive officer of Xinjiang Urban and Rural Planning Design Research Institute Co., Ltd.

Space permeability, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

Overlooking DongZhuang from Nanshan, Image Courtesy © Yao Li

Born in Xinjiang, grown up in Xinjiang, studied and working in Xinjiang, Zhang Haiyang is a native post-1980s construction worker. Having worked under the guidance of Mr. Liu Xu who is the Dean of Xinjiang Yudian Construction Design and Research Institute for ten years since July 2016, Zhang Haiyang has been deeply influenced by him.

Understanding of architectural design:

Architectural design first refers to products and then the behaviors. Different from others products produced in the assembly line, architectural design is a strategy proposed according to various factors: the owners’ requirements, economic input, geographic environment, history and humanity, and construction technology, etc. These strategies are generally vague and complex, so every product is usually very trivial. However, as they have their own personalities, they are ordinary but not mediocre.

LIU Er-Dong, Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Zhang Hai-Yang, Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

LIU Xu, Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

Image Courtesy © Xinjiang Wind Architectural Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.

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