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Emerging designer WallaceLiu transforms former steel factory into museum in China

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The 7,500m² museum is part of a larger regeneration of an old factory site in Chongqing in south-west China

London-based emerging design practice WallaceLiu has inserted a series of building volumes into a lightweight steel frame to create the Chongqing Industrial Museum.

The new museum is part of a larger regeneration of an old factory site and has been designed to recognise the national significance of the steelwork industry’s history.

Inside the museum is a central atrium hall, cloakrooms, toilet facilities, a bookshop and a projection room.

Front 1

Exhibition spaces are enclosed in metal boxes and lifted off the ground to create a permeable ground floor. These are linked by bridges at various levels, framing an open hall for temporary exhibitions. This has been created within a pit once used to cool large pieces of steel.

A permeable, lightweight steel structure wraps around the building and the historic factory columns to the front. On top of this sits large perforated, powder-coated aluminium panels supported by the tall truss-like structures and inspired by the post-industrial context in which the building is situated.

Behind the raised curtain is the museum’s café and restaurant which open on to a new public square.

The museum opened in November 2019.   

Curtain 5

Designer’s view

The new museum building is constructed from a lightweight steel frame structure which allowed building volumes to be inserted in between the old structures. Inspired by the layered views through the original factory site, metal boxes that contain enclosed exhibition spaces are lifted off the ground to create a complex ground floor. These raised volumes are linked by bridges at different levels and frame an open hall for temporary exhibitions that has been created within a pit once used to cool large pieces of steel.

By breaking down the exhibition journey into a series of spaces that travel through the existing structures and around the open hall, the building invites visitors to explore and observe the existing features while completing their composed exhibition narrative.

Since opening in November 2019 the museum has become a major new destination for Chongqing and an important example of how to retain and reuse China’s 20th-century industrial heritage. 

Jee Liu and Jamie Wallace, directors, WallaceLiu

Wl cqim dwg plan 1 ugf

Project data     

Start on site April 2017
Completion November 2019
Gross (internal + external) floor area 7,500m²
Form of contract or procurement route EPC contract
Construction cost 89,000,000 RMB
Construction cost per m² 11,900 RMB
Lead design company WallaceLiu
Executive architect CMCU Engineering Company 
Client YuFu group
Structural engineer CMCU Engineering Company
QS CMCU Engineering Company
M&E consultant CMCU Engineering Company
Landscape consultant WallaceLiu
Project manager CMCU Engineering Company
Main contractor Chongqing Construction Engineering Industry Co, Southwest Aluminium (Group) Co
CAD software used Revit, AutoCad

Wl cqim dwg iso 2

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