MVRDV’s creative overhaul of Nantou’s old, disused ‘If Factory’ forges a sustainable path towards renovatiosn, as it taps into the space’s unseen community potential.Dominated by peripheral skyscrapers, Nantou, Shenzhen’s historic-town-turned-urban-village, is slowly transforming itself into a cultural and creative hub. The largest project yet to be adopted for renovation, the 11,000 sqm. factory sets a precedent for future makeovers – exemplifying Nantou as a catalyst that brings together creativity, the community, and its own history.
Commissioned by Shenzhen’s Nanshan District Bureau of Public Works and Vanke Development, the building will now accommodate offices. At the heart of the design is a new addition – a public stairway punctuating the built, leading to a landscaped roof terrace, ‘The Green House’. The wood-clad staircase distinguishes itself from the otherwise concrete and glass design. Carving its way to the roof, the staircase protrudes from the façade halfway up. Inside, built-in windows provide visitors glimpses into the offices, ensuring transparency and maintaining community contact, while mirrored glass and vibrant neon signage hint at the early days of Shenzhen’s urbanisation. Exterior glass walls, set back from the concrete structural frame, create perimeter balconies, encouraging circulation and chance interaction. On the roof, a green bamboo landscape recreates a maze – dividing the space into different rooms, each packing in a different public amenity for fun and relaxation.
The external application of a new transparent paint will allow the structure to resist aging and drive sustainability. Preserving traces of the building’s history, especially the now exposed concrete frame, would reinforce the concept of circular economy. Additionally, during the construction process, a temporary canvas will wrap the building, stitched together with large zips that open to provide access. Its design would reveal the project’s final look. The canvas will later be recycled into tote bags, another nod to their overarching low-carbon concept.
The project is a collaborative effort between MVRDV, Urban Research Institute of Vanke, vaLue Design, and the Shenzhen Bowan Architecture Design Institute.
Project Name: If Factory
Client: Bureau of Public Works of Shenzhen Municipality Nanshan District; Shenzhen Vanke Development Ltd.
Design Team: Lorenzo Mattozzi, Guang Ruey Tan, Peter Chang, Cai Zheli, Echo Zhai, Pim Bangert, and others
Project planning and design management: Urban Research Institute of China Vanke; vaLue Design
Co-architect: Shenzhen Bowan Architecture Design Institute
Landscape architect: Yuanye Landscape Design
Lighting designer: GD-Lighting Design
Façade Consultant: PAG
Local Interior architect: Biaogao Designs
Size and Programme: 11,000 sq. m. Office
Location: Shenzhen, China
Photography credits: © MVRDV