The Building on the Water of Shihlien Chemical plant is located in the New Salt Industrial Park of Huai’an city of Jiangsu Province. Shihlien Chemical Plant is one of the world’s largest combined soda ash and ammonium chloride production plants designed by celebrated architects Alvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira of CC&CB Arquitectos. This is the first work of Pritzker prize-winner architect Alvaro Siza in China.
The plant covers an area of two square kilometers and the total building area of the building on the water is 14,000 square meters. The industrial plant employs the world’s most advanced technologies and manufacturing methodologies. The vast industrial complex had an artificial lake of around 1,00,000sqm which led to the birth of the desire of Shihlien Chemical Chairman Por-Shih Lin to create an office building over it.
The intent was to articulate an eye-pleasing architectural profile for the Shihlien plant and blend seamlessly the building with water which is the most important element for the manufacture of Glass. The concept of the building on the water came into existence with all the construction work completed in four years. The building is built in white exposed concrete with two levels above water and a curvilinear form of 300m in length.
The main entrance is on the east side where the foyer leads to the southern side work unit and to the northern side for social and exhibition areas. The restaurant, kitchen, and service entrance face the north side. The administration unit and facilities for associate companies are planned on the upper floor. The circulation and accessibility are facilitated with ramps, bridges, and staircases.
The form of the building on the water resembles a coiled life-like dragon elegantly resting over water. The building form has undulating contours and is contradictory to the orthogonal form of the factory complex. Taking advantage of its poetic setting, the building is all about levels and volumes, tones of light and shadow, and hues and reflections of water.
The materiality of the building on the water is characterized by the glass, aluminum, wood, and white concrete blending with the fluid water body to paint an ethereal architectural image. The main entrance foyer area is adorned with three curvilinear figures awaiting to greet one on arrival or departure. The sculpture is a creation by architect Álvaro Siza aligning with his belief that sculpture is architecture as it transforms a space and makes it more beautiful.
Project Name: The Building On The Water – Shihlien Chemical
Location: Huai’an City, Jiangsu, China
Total Building Area: 14,000sqm
Firm Name: CC&CB – Arquitectos Lda.
Principal Designers: Álvaro Siza with Carlos Castanheira
Image Credits: Fernando Guerra I FG+SG