Reviving the Rust Belt: A Unique Approach to Urban Renewal

Designers Xuhui Guo and Yong Liu Transform an Abandoned Factory into a Green Conference Center

Inspired by the industrial heritage of Shenyang, China, designers Xuhui Guo and Yong Liu have created a unique conference center that respects local tradition while embracing modern green building technologies. This project, named "Rebirth of The Rust Belt," is a testament to the potential of urban renewal and sustainable design.

The design was inspired by an abandoned factory that existed near the site. The shape of the building bears a resemblance to the industrial equipment in the factory, with the facade adopting weathering steel plates and an aluminum plate curtain wall. The designers aimed to carry out urban renewal while maintaining the local industrial context, creating a brand new yet traditional building that enhances the local environment.

Unlike other conference centers in China, this building does not adopt a huge volume and an axisymmetric layout. Instead, it fully respects the local tradition with soft curved shapes and building materials. It continues the traditional memory and is friendly to the public, providing sufficient outdoor space for citizens. Moreover, it's a green building, reducing comprehensive energy consumption by 72% compared to regular buildings.

The building's structure is a combination of a reinforced concrete frame and a steel grid frame. The facade is made of weathering steel plate, aluminum plate curtain wall, and granite curtain wall. The building incorporates green technologies such as high-performance thermal insulation, energy-saving equipment, photovoltaic power generation, permeable pavement, sunken grassland, and a water recycling system.

The conference center spans a length of 137m, a width of 84m, and a height of 21m, covering a building area of 17500sq.m and a site area of 25000sq.m. The building is divided into two parts: the conference part and the exhibition part. The conference part, designed in a cylindrical shape, has a similar volume and texture to the factory facilities that once existed in the area. The exhibition part, with its aluminum panel curtain wall, creates a technological appearance, bringing a new visual experience to the old industrial area.

The project, which started in October 2020 and finished in August 2021, faced the challenge of respecting local traditions and contexts while constructing a brand new large public building. Despite these challenges, the design was awarded Silver in A' Architecture, Building and Structure Design Award in 2023, a testament to its remarkable design and innovation.

This project is a shining example of how urban renewal can be achieved while respecting local traditions and promoting sustainable design. It serves as an inspiration for future projects, proving that it is possible to create a modern, functional space that also pays homage to its historical context.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Xuhui Guo
Image Credits: Xuhui Guo
Project Team Members: Architect: Xuhui Guo Architect: Yong Liu
Project Name: Rebirth of The Rust Belt
Project Client: Xuhui Guo

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