by Jincy IypeNov 11, 2022
In an effort to “blur the traditional boundaries between nature and the city,” while harmonising the relationship between technology and life, Sanya Farm Lab by CLOU architects offers 4,000 sqm of exhibition space spread over four storeys and enclosed within a timber grid inspired by Chinese architecture. The facility is located in the Nanfan High-Tech District of the city of Sanya – China's premier beach destination that boasts of sparkling blue waters, rugged mountains and white sand beaches as well as an upcoming centre for research and innovation in the realm of tropical agricultural science. Mirroring features of hipped and mansard roof structures, Sanya Farm Lab’s design responds to the island’s tropical climate, effortlessly blending elements of the region’s technological advancements with its agriculture and architecture.
Combining multiple program areas that include a research compound and commercial display space, the project by Beijing-based CLOU architects capitalises on advancements in agricultural science, integrating and facilitating exhibitions focused on agricultural robotics and upcoming fields such as indoor vertical farming. The structure also plays a part in educating the public about improvements made in the spheres of education and contemporary lifestyles by the advent of modern agricultural technology. In addition, the facility creates a new 'farm-to-table' experience in its restaurant space with an in-house organic farm.
As per the architects, the structural articulation of the building's wooden architectural frame and its internal layout were developed in three stages. The first point of action was to create an external public plaza filled with lush greenery around the lab, incorporating levels and a sense of scale that would respond to the four storeys of functional massing housed within the structure.
A cosy rain shelter was devised by cantilevering a section of the second floor that houses the restaurant and bar areas. The level also has a play section for children. Exhibition spaces and compounds for research, punctuated by pockets of soil and vegetation, occupy the remaining layout.
Next, the program uses an elaborate spiral staircase from the multifunctional theatre to weave the indoor and outdoor together. The timber grid frame of the structure is a major contributor to this design facet, allowing for transparency that permits visitors to communicate and interact with the plaza below.
Inspired by architectural forms seen in local traditional homes, the architects developed the timber roof truss enveloping the structure, made of 800mm deep laminated veneer lumber (LVL) beams. As per CLOU architects, the depth of the timber construction allows for nearly 70 per cent of natural sunlight to be absorbed, while the structure shelters outdoor areas, minimises heat gain and provides natural ventilation and unhindered vistas.
The intricate network of voids, spaces and platforms within the structure defies notions of interior and exterior, portraying the intersection of man and nature that is integral to the design. While Sanya Farm Lab does present interesting propositions for what agricultural tourism and exhibitions may look like hereafter, the question of whether it is a sustainable model for Sanya's future will be answered over time.
Name: Sanya Farm Lab
Location: Sanya, Hainan Island, China
Client: Jinmao Sanya Nanfan Rongmao Real Estate Co., Ltd.
Area: 6900 sqm
Year of Completion: 2021
Architect: CLOU architects
Interior Design Concept: CLOU architects
Design Team: Jan Clostermann, Lin Li (Design Team Leader), Na Zhao, Sebastian Loaiza, Julien Douillet, Yaxi Wang, Tianshu Liu, Tiago Tavares，Principia Wardhani, Javier Peláez, Yiqiao Zhao
Construction Drawings/MEP/Structure: Urban Architecture Design Co., Ltd
Façade Consultant: China Building Technique Group Co., Ltd.
Interior Design Construction Drawings: G-Aart design
Lighting Consultant: Fuzhou Bovs Lighting Design Co., Ltd.