Crossboundaries’ ‘big shed’ unites retail, administrative and manufacturing functions
The Chinese factory has not generally been associated with high design standards, but a combination of forces may be about to change that. Workers are fighting for and increasingly winning better wages and conditions: according to the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, there were 1,379 protests by Chinese workers last year, a number that has tripled since 2012, and wages are rising at 12 per cent a year. At the same time, environmental concerns are spreading, and a new generation of industrialists is appearing. Exemplary of the latter two trends is Zhang Yue, the inventor of the ‘flatpack skyscraper’, whose Broad Group factory town is founded on ecological principles. However, innovative factory design is still thin on the ground. One exception is Crossboundaries’ lingerie factory in Beijing: from the outside a typical ‘big shed’, it unites retail, administrative and manufacturing functions. On entering a gap in the facade, a canyon carved from the rectangular envelope takes the visitor into the heart of the business, beneath raised walkways linking the different parts of the operation.
Read the Factories typology here.