shaoxing rice wine town reception room by gad

completed by architectural studio gad, the shaoxing rice wine town reception room is sited in the chinese town of dongpu, famous for its historical yellow rice wine industry. the project’s original plot of land held a workshop space where rice wine was produced, and a red brick chimney preserved as a backdrop to the newly-constructed building which reveals an eye-catching façade design associated with traditional chinese construction methods and a unified modular language.

this approach responds to the site and its history by ‘infusing the vitality of the times into the thousand-year-old ancient town, and inherits the yellow rice wine culture in a dynamic way‘, states the designers. 

all image © yaoli studio

for the early stages of the project, the building will be used as an experience and exhibition hall that celebrates the yellow rice wine cultural experience and features a bookstore and flower shop, among other functions. later, gad’s team will expand the structure’s function, turning it into a waterfront commercial building hosting three restaurants. 

southeast bird’s eye view

centering the building layout around the dashu river 

beside occupying the land of a former industrial facility, the project also borders the dashu river to the east, which became a focus point for the architects. they made full use of this on-site feature by stacking and retreating the building volume northwards — forming a number of roof terraces overlooking the dashu river and creating more possibilities for future spatial programs. 

at ground level, on the riverside, the outdoors host a gray-colored and landscaped space designed as a gradual extension of the interiors. by doing so, the boundary between indoors and outdoors softens — forming a direct connection with the water surface. 

the façade integrates elements of removable windows found in traditional jiangnan dwellings

a modular design with references to chinese folk houses 

drawing on the strong functional adaptability of traditional wooden frame architecture, the structure is built from 4.8m x 4.8m x 4.8m cubes. this module can simultaneously adapt to the plane and floor height requirements of typical spatial functions — i.e. exhibition room, shop, restaurant, toilet, elevator room, and so on. more importantly, gad completely mapped the modular unit to the building’s form and façade — creating a ‘unique architectural temperament‘,  as the studio describes it. 

to form a deeper and more layered façade, the architects added another frame to the modular outer walls that references the removable windows of jiangnan folk houses. ultimately, ‘modular space and modular form are highly unified, bringing the maximum degree of rapid prefabrication and installation, while maintaing actual requirements of rapid construction and cost control,’ shares gad. 

southeast perspective of the shaoxing rice wine town reception room

the original plan was to adopt a wooden structure but that decision was quickly abandoned considering the tight cycle of the project, fire prevention standards, the local rainy climate, and the poor durability and high maintenance of wood. instead, the architects opted for a steel frame structure which is a faster and more controllable alternative.

once the building skeleton was set, and after careful investigation and comparison of various materials, the team decided to clad the outer walls with recycled bamboo. the bamboo planks are preprocessed into l-shaped members in the factory, which reduces the on-site assembling workload and joint treatment, while improveing construction speed and accuracy of on-site installation. all in all, warm wood materials combined with a small scale unit space create a humble, amiable and vibrant waterfront building and design language.