Refrigeration plant in Xiamen transformed into repurposed art center
Beginning on May 4, 2014, the doors of 60 Shapowei Street in Xiamen, a 3500 square meter former refrigeration plant, opened to the public again years after the old factory had been abandoned. The Shapowei docks are quickly transforming in the face of Xiamen’s urban development. Rehabilitation projects in this industrial area and traditional fishing port are becoming increasingly numerous. In light of these events, the owner of the old refrigeration plant decided to transform some of the buildings into a cultural area called Yishu Xiqu (“West Artistic Zone”).
In Yishu Xiqu, two types of space have been refurbished. The first is an outdoor space intended to welcome creative markets and other urban and artistic activities (e.g. a skate park, etc). The second is an indoor space with various artists’ studios (including carpentry, painting, etc.) and exhibition spaces. The final project will be the construction of a hotel on the factory’s upper floors with a rooftop terrace that offers a standing view of the docks and Gulangyu island’s villas.
In regards to the renovation process, working with a limited budget, Wang Zhenfei and his collaborators at HDD-Fun decided to introduce modern components to the space while optimizing and re-using the existing structure and furniture to lend a minimalist and raw aesthetic to the project. Thus, old metal doors and concrete floors, representing the industrial spirit of the site, have been conserved while some supra-contemporary elements have been added, such as metal cables with LED exteriors and geometric black light stripes that adorn the ceilings of the new studios (see the photos).
However, rehabilitating a brownfield is certainly not without its constraints. Projects are typically rather onerous, yet characteristically, companies in charge of redevelopment, as in Yishu Xiqu’s case, often lack sufficient funding. Moreover, the question of property rights is complex, which is why some of Yishu Xiqu’s spaces could not be renovated. Finally, the rehabilitation of an old industrial area creates a new economic and commercial dynamic, often engendering a rush of new visitors that can contribute to increasing the rental price of houses and businesses in the area. This is a particular gentrification phenomenon that Wang would like to avoid by creating a new space accessible to all and, in particular, to local residents.