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Competition: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

A contest has been announced to transform the former Nanjing Tobacco Factory in eastern China into a new centre for creative enterprises (Deadline: 15 December)

The free-to-enter competition seeks proposals to convert the 33,600m2 post-industrial building and its surrounding grounds located in the historic city’s downtown Xuanwu district into a business park for engineering, design and architecture businesses.

The project is part of a wider ‘Silicon Alley’ programme to create a number of new enterprise hubs across the city, supporting new firms emerging from the Sipailou Campus of China’s Southeast University. The Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park is expected to set a benchmark for similar post-industrial regeneration schemes across the rapidly growing country.

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Source: Image by Google Earth

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

The competition brief says: ‘The scope of competition design is based on [responding to] the design industry around Southeast University. It is a conceptual design scheme to upgrade the overall environment of Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park, plan various building functions in the park, design and reform the exterior facade and interior.

‘The renovation project [focusses on the] Nanjing Tobacco Factory located at the intersection of Lane Lan and Beiting Lane in Xuanwu District, Nanjing. The area is close to 1912 Commercial Street. The former National Art Museum, Jiangning Weaving Museum, Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, Six Dynasties Museum, Nanjing Presidential Palace and other buildings are [also] distributed on the south side of the park.’

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu province of eastern China and is a historic and cultural centre located on the Yangtze river delta with a population of eight million. It served as the centre of the empire during the Ming dynasties.

The old tobacco factory site is around 10km from the Sipailou Campus of Southeast University, one of China’s leading educational institutions. 

The competition languages are English and Chinese and teams may feature up to 10 members with collaboration between professionals and students encouraged. Submissions should include graphics, 3D visualisation and written descriptions with a maximum of 50-pages allowed.

The overall winner, to be announced on 10 January, will receive a $50,000 (£39,000) prize. Two second prizes of $20,000 and three third prizes of $10,000 will also be announced.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 23:59 local time (GMT+8) on 15 December

Contact details

Grace Huang

Tel: +86 180 4652 1588
Email: 1986691997@qq.com ; darchievelilycheng@163.com

View the competition website for more information

Greenwich Design District case study: Q&A with Hannah Corlett

The founding director of Assemblage discusses lessons learned designing a new creative businesses hub for southeast London

Hannah Corlett

Hannah Corlett

Hannah Corlett

How will your project create a new hub for London’s creative industries in the former post-industrial north Greenwich area?

New hubs for creatives are not the challenge, but lasting ones are. In the last century artists and creatives have been used as sacrificial catalysts to fuel the gentrification of undesirable, often post-industrial areas. Once effective they are priced out and lost. When we proposed the addition of a center for makers to the initial masterplan, the client jumped at the chance to produce a permanent location for creative startups in the heart of the peninsula to ensure its distinction from other genericized, brand dominated pieces of city.

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Structures in the new Design District are low cost in order that tenant rents can be kept affordable - long term. The most efficient approach would have been to produce a large, single, sealed, industrial scale building, particularly given the cost constraints. But our approach was to resolve the brief not with big architecture but instead design a permeable piece of city with a distinctive street grain, architecture, and urban character to create an environment for innovation. The district comprises 16 free-standing buildings composed around five courtyards. Creating 14,000 sqm of studio space for makers in the creative industries.

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

As urban designers we saw our role to liberate and enable the creativity of the architects but knew that wouldn’t have worked without a clear platform. Rather than having a predetermined attitude about outcomes we were interested in the creative response of the designers selected, which is why we chose to further complicate the decision to split the accommodation into 16 separate buildings by allocating the buildings to 8 different architects. The client agreed to this but only if we sit on both sides of the table to oversee the masterplan, coordinate the architects and be one of them. The selection of the architects was deliberately undertaken to give a mixed voice, the phrase “Marmite building” was invented and accepted by the client to describe the reality that the different offer of buildings allowed for a range of varied tastes. It’s a fallacy to assume that creatives want bland spaces, so we set out to create aesthetic as well as physical variety.

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

The physical detachment of each building permitted its own distinct architectural voice particular to that architect, allowing them to compose the building form and all external elevations as a coherent sculptural object. As part of our urban design, regulatory and economic constraints were well understood but we deliberately didn’t set the usual design codes that are typical of master plans. In order that cohesive hierarchy of the public realm remain legible building footprints had to be maintained, but buildings were allowed play in section as the area required wasn’t a maximisation of the footprint extruded to the height constraints. We also didn’t superimpose a materials palette as we knew that the facade would be a significant proportion of the budget and we were keen architects innovate around the necessary tight cost constraints and desire for sustainability.

What advice would you have to participants on rethinking the Nanjing Tobacco Factory?

The expression ‘borderless’ is important in the brief, any proposal should integrate with the broader community and not create an impermeable microsociety. An understanding of the nature of growth within the creative industries is important, including what is required at entry level, and how start up models can be supported economically as well as architecturally.

Designers should think strategically for a future that we are unable to predict, but common sense can dictate directions of change: transportation; energy supply; waste etc shouldn’t be designed as an extension of what we have today. And perhaps most importantly don’t assume that creatives want blank canvas homogeneity to be sold by the square meter.

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Greenwich Design District by Assemblage

Q&A with Grace Huang

The competition organizer discusses her ambitions

Why are your holding an international contest to regenerate the Nanjing Tobacco Factory?

In 2019, Nanjing advanced the important goal of developing a ‘Silicon Alley’ and building an innovative city. In line with this goal, the campus of Southeast University (formerly the site of the Central University) will be expanded to include the Nanjing Old Tobacco Factory, Xuanwu District Court, Dongda Science and Technology Park and other plots, as part of commitment to the formation of a new design industry hub as a focal point of the East East Innovation Industry Belt. On this basis, Xuanwu District selected the Nanjing Old Tobacco Factory as the initial project to build an innovative design industry belt for Southeast University and launched the Nanjing Old Tobacco Factory International Design Competition. The competition is not only closely aligned to Southeast University’s campus identity and the region’s long history, but it also planned to select and recognize outstanding design talent so that excellent architects and designers will stand out.

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

What is your vision for the new Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park?

This competition covers an area of about 15,715.5m2, with a total construction area of 33,587.82m2. The competition requires participants to submit a masterplan; a renovation concept; and an interior concept. The transformation of the factory will reflect the contemporary design cluster approach of ‘one body and two wings’ – with engineering design as the main body and creative design and industrial design as the two wings.

The factory must become a creative park with a new community created around its design industries. While enhancing the rich diversity for the city, it will provide designers with opportunities to collaborate with each other, mobilize resources, unlock collaborative opportunities. It will also feature high-quality supporting facilities such as a 3D printing model production area, graphic production equipment, and a street-facing zone with tea houses and whisky bars where design entrepreneurs can enjoy a pleasant living environment.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

This competition will not only bring together a number of outstanding design concepts and works from home and abroad, but it will also provide a platform for outstanding designers to display their talents and innovative ideas, and an opportunity to increase the project’s visibility. Through the exchanges and joint efforts of domestic and foreign design teams, the competition will ensure the Xuanwu ring East Design Industry Belt becomes a world-class design area, making it a benchmark for the construction of innovative cities. Additional design competitions are likely to be held in the future for new buildings, green interventions, public domain improvements and other smaller facilities.

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Contest site: Nanjing Tobacco Factory Park

Are there any other recent post-industrial regeneration projects you have been impressed by?

I was impressed by first phase of the renovation project of the second thermal power plant in Tianning Temple. The first phase of the Tianning Temple thermal power plant renovation project is located at 16 Lotus Pond East Road in Xicheng District, Beijing, and was opened in May 2014 and completed in January 2016. The lower half of the project uses brick, with a good sense of ground connection. The upper half uses more modern, fresh lightweight materials, such as aluminum and glass, to make people feel lighter. The combination of new and old creates a new effect, giving the whole complex a unified image. The three main designers of this project are: Beijing Architectural Design Research Institute, UFO Architecture of Beijing Architectural Design Research Institute, and Li Jiaqi Architects.

 

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