The West-Line studio has been founded ten years ago, and has always been paying attention to the basic working pattern – geopolitical order, public life model, atmosphere creating, composite construction. The studio aim is to maintain the original status of the geographical space and the stable expression of the emotions.
In 2017 the studio realized the Shui Cultural Center, which was awarded with the Silver A’ Design Award for Architecture, Building and Structure Design. Located in the Southern part of Guizhou Province, the Cultural Center is a gateway to Sandu County, the land of the Shui. The Shui are one of the ethnic minority groups in China, most of whom live in Guizhou – where West-Line Studio works exclusively – which is why the office pays special attention to researching minority cultures and traditions in order to bring some of their particular elements into the design.
Despite being few in number, the Shui people have still retained their own language, together with their unique system of pictographs. They have around 400 characters used mostly during ceremonies and sacrifices. The iconic shape of the cultural center pays homage to the Shui language, following the shape of the character for ‘mountain’. The facade pattern is also inspired by Shui’s traditional characters, starting again from the basic triangular shape of the mountain, which is repeated to evoke the character for ‘rain’.
The site, which covers an area of 13,800 square meters, was created by a bend in the river, so it is surrounded by water on three sides. On the other, the West side, a water square welcomes the visitors guiding them to the entrance. Shui means water, which is why this element is so relevant for both the site and project. The building itself consists of three main stripes, which combine all the functions of the tourist-cultural center. The first is the ritual hall, which with its sharp edges, strong colors and narrow space aims to create a strong first impression on visitors, who are clearly stepping into a different dimension. The second stripe still keeps the sharp roof but welcomes visitors with less dramatic tones and serves as reception hall. In the third stripe, which has two floors, at the ground level we lose the pitch roof to find a more conventional space that includes all the main functions: visitor and service center, cafeteria, toilets, business center and an upstairs office area.
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