A timber grid inspired by Chinese roofs enfolds Sanya Farm Lab by CLOU architects

Showcasing advancements in agricultural science, an intricate network of voids, spaces, and platforms defines exhibition and retail spaces of this research facility in Sanya, China.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Jul 13, 2021

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.

  • The structure is located within the Nanfan High Tech District of Sanya – an upcoming centre for research and innovation in agricultural science | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    The structure is located within the Nanfan High Tech District of Sanya – an upcoming centre for research and innovation in agricultural science Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory
  • A vast public plaza with vegetation overlooking the building became the starting point of design for CLOU architects | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    A vast public plaza with vegetation overlooking the building became the starting point of design for CLOU architects Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory

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.

Sanya Farm Lab combines program areas that include research compounds, exhibition spaces, and a restaurant | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
Sanya Farm Lab combines program areas that include research compounds, exhibition spaces, and a restaurant Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory

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 developed by cantilevering a portion of the second floor | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
A cosy rain shelter was developed by cantilevering a portion of the second floor Image: Shining Laboratory

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.

  • The elaborate spiral staircase connects all four levels | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    The elaborate spiral staircase connects all four levels Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory
  • Vertical circulation within the structure provides opportunities for indoor-outdoor transition | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    Vertical circulation within the structure provides opportunities for indoor-outdoor transition Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory
  • The spiral staircase leads to a play area for children on the third floor | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    The spiral staircase leads to a play area for children on the third floor Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory

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.

  • Interior exhibition spaces emphasise openness | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    Interior exhibition spaces emphasise openness Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory
  • Pockets of soil and vegetation punctuate the design scheme | Sanya Farm Lab by CLOU architects | STIRworld
    Pockets of soil and vegetation punctuate the design scheme Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory

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.

Inspired by local traditional houses, the roof  is made of laminated veneer lumber | Sanya Farm Lab by CLOU architects | STIRworld
Inspired by local traditional houses, the roof is made of laminated veneer lumber Image: Courtesy of Shining Laboratory

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.

  • Axonometric View | Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    Axonometric View Image: Courtesy of CLOU architects
  • Section| Sanya Farm Lab | CLOU architects | STIRworld
    Section Image: Courtesy of CLOU architects

Project Details

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.

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