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qinglong river landscape pavilion: a viewing platform in rural china

Jul 10, 2023Jul 10, 2023

Completed by F.O.G Architecture, the Qinglong River Landscape Pavilion emerges in China‘s Hubei province, on the side of the Gonghe waterworks factory, and connects to a local village. The pavilion's unique timber and steel structure takes inspiration from a tradition of building roof extensions, each one linking to the next to create an open space where neighbors can sit and socialize when taking a break from farming. By opening up the factory's private courtyard and topping it with a roof, the architects have successfully recreated that sacred act of ‘staying’. Meanwhile, being close to Qinglong Lake National Wetland Park, locals get to enjoy scenic views of the hills and farmland. In addition to the open space, water quality monitoring and management rooms are arranged in a one-story facility on the east side, while a two-story watchtower unfolds at the southeast corner.

all images © Liu Xinghao – INSPACE

Concept-wise, the team at F.O.G Architecture considered the structural design based on the interaction between the built form and the natural surroundings. ‘Instead of passively conforming to the landscape, the pavilion conflicted with the site as an artificial object, regardless of how the volume was composited. In this light, the conflict is seen as an opportunity to build a new relationship with nature, and therefore introduced an alternative way of using, seeing, and perceiving the environment through our design,’ writes the practice.

More specifically, F.O.G Architecture breaks down the Qinglong River Landscape Pavilion into two structural elements: the roof and the podium. The roof slopes southward following the terrain, forming a continuous corridor, while the stage leans northward to connect with the entrance plaza, transforming it into a viewing platform. By redefining the roof and podium, the design creates two distinct but complementary viewing experiences — one dynamic and the other static. In addition, the architects purposefully misaligned both elements along the east-west axis to create an internal circulation.

the Qinglong River Landscape Pavilion comprises a roof and a podium

To reinforce the roof volume and the act of staying, the design employs a steel and timber structure supported by an array of leaning columns. A 20-meter-long atrium further opens up amid the 35-meter-long roof to reduce heaviness while preserving existing trees and allowing more natural light to pour in. Meanwhile, the south eave is raised 50 cm above ground level to emphasize the roof profile and create a ‘floating’ structure.

As for the podium, F.O.G Architecture stacked it with mud and stone dug up while setting up the foundation. The ramp's retaining wall is raised 42cm above the finishing level, creating a planter box and a seating area for visitors. ‘The use of masonry as the primary material adds to the impression of the podium. We didn't put any outdoor furniture under the roof or on the ramp after defining the structure, expecting that the structural shape would spontaneously direct visitors to use the space,’ explains the team.

the roof slopes southward in accordance with the terrain

The Qinglong River Landscape Pavilion was developed with the help of the local villagers who challenged the architects’ original ideas — like exposing the building's steel structure to emphasize its architecture. However, the community found this approach somewhat ‘cheap’, suggesting instead to wrap all steel columns in carpentry.

‘This new structure draws the locals’ attention and inspires them to upgrade their living environments. The north entrance was initially designed as a two-meter-wide road because it is near the backyard of one villager's house. Following the completion of the project, the villagers demolished the backyard wall and planted trees to create a new entrance plaza to the site. The locals were overjoyed to see the pavilion after the project was implemented, as they had never seen one before. To them, the pavilion is more than just a place to rest. It is an encouragement to update the living condition, change the rural environment, and play a more active role in rural revitalization,’ concludes F.O.G Architecture.

a place for villagers to rest, sit, and gather

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