A Narrative Water Courtyard Linking Traditional and Modern: Shaoxing Kuaiji Mountain Huangjiu Research and Development Center
Kuaiji Mountain Huangjiu Research and Development Center (KMHRDC) is located in the town of Hutang, on the outskirts of Shaoxing. Hutang is part of the first group of “innovative revival towns” under the Zhejiang Historical Towns Plan, a scheme put forward by the provincial government to promote economic and cultural development in rural areas. As the face of the town, HIRC is close to the Kuaiji Mountain Huangjiu Production Zone (note: huangjiu is a type of Chinese rice wine), which contains three functional districts: Huangjiu Research Institute, Museum of Huangjiu, and Business Offices. The comprehensive transformation of the Zone from disorganization to standardization represents its evolution from traditional to modern. Its redesign introduces two key elements of Shaoxing architecture, namely the water courtyard and the taimen, a traditional gate leading to a residential home. The placement of structures like corridors, pavilions, and walls breaks up the 40,000-square-meter site into an appropriate scale for a courtyard. The design team organized visits to the three functional districts, which allowed them to better reflect the Shaoxing cultural context by realizing the fusion of old and new through the design concepts of traditional Chinese gardens, such as landscape movement and perspective shift.
Site situation & Challenge:
The project is located at the foot of the beautiful Jishan Mountain. To the south and east it is adjacent to the tributaries of Jianhu Lake, while to the north lies the massive concrete-built factories and rice wine steel fermentation tanks of the Kuaiji Mountain Huangjiu Production Zone. In this complex environment, simultaneously addressing the needs of both cold manufacturing and natural landscapes became the biggest challenge of this design project.
Water is the symbol of Shaoxing, the water courtyard is the symbol of Shaoxing homes, and Jianhu Lake is the symbol of Shaoxing huangjiu. This project took water as its main design concept. A water courtyard is introduced into the site to become one of the vital building elements that creates a distinctive garden landscape with diverse functionality. The element of taimen in traditional Shaoxing homes is introduced to echo huangjiu’s origins as a folk drink in the Kuaiji Mountain area. Meanwhile, the spatial forms of entrances and courtyards found in taimen are integrated into the site. The water courtyard enriches the changing site and the taimen break up its scale; guided by walking movement and perspective transformation, the space is more effectively connected.
Different from the systematic faux antique construction methods, the design team deliberately used both modern and traditional architectural languages in the overall layout and spatial design of this project. In this way, the project can help to carry forward the historical context of Shaoxing, while also serving as a transition point between the manufacturing facilities (modern) and nature reserves (traditional) on either side of the site.
The traditional, scattered layout of the Huangjiu Research Institute makes the space winding with a sense of mystery. The standardized layout of the Museum of Huangjiu is relatively modern and geometric. Its spatial atmosphere is open and ceremonial. The Business Offices district, meanwhile, is purely functional, with a function-oriented layout. And, in conjunction with the water courtyard and taimen, the seemingly different patterns are unified, making the space more fun to wander through.
Building materials and forms range from the small black tiles in the wooden frame of the Huangjiu Research Institute to the gradually emerging large glass and steel structure of the Museum of Huangjiu. The design team established a dialogue between tradition and modernity through the unification of scale, form, texture, and color.
As the face of the town of Hutang, the Kuaiji Mountain Huangjiu Research and Development Center provides a platform for the promotion and innovation of traditional Shaoxing huangjiu. In the three years since the project was completed, KMHRDC has been a place for the absorption and integration of Shaoxing’s folk customs and historical culture into brand products, public activities, and winemaking technology. It has fermented powerful examples of cultural inheritance and new-old connections.
Huahui Engineering Design Group CO., LTD. (Huahui Group) is a comprehensive consulting enterprise serviced in the whole process of construction, with urban development as its field, and engineering consulting as its core. The business involves consulting, construction, engineering, environmental survey, real estate, and other urban construction fields, and enduring been committed to the sustainability and innovation in China.er enterprises.