Büro Ole Scheeren’s campus design takes inspiration from the surrounding landscape

The one-of-a-kind Wuliang Interstice campus in China is conceptualised keeping in mind the local climate, and is inspired by the natural canyon on which it is located.

by Pallavi MehraPublished on : Nov 09, 2022

At first glance, this space appears to be a public park. When you look closely, you realise that it’s actually an office campus comprising various buildings. Multinational architecture firm Büro Ole Scheeren recently unveiled Wuliang Interstice, which is located in the historical city of Yibin in China. The distinctive project is a new campus and experience centre for Wuliangye, one of China’s leading winemakers. Yibin is well-known for its rich culture and natural beauty; its scenic landscape dominated by the Min and Yangtze rivers, which flow through the city, along with verdant greenery and surrounding mountain ranges. Yibin is also home to Wuliangye, one of the most renowned white winemakers in China. Evocative of an ancient city wall, the arresting new campus features a number of artefacts that celebrate the cultural heritage of Yibin.

While designing Wuliang Interstice, Büro Ole Scheeren was inspired by the natural landscape of Yibin | Wuliang Interstice | Büro Ole Scheeren | STIRworld
While designing Wuliang Interstice, Büro Ole Scheeren was inspired by the natural landscape of Yibin Image: Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

For the conceptual design of the unique Wuliang Interstice, Büro Ole Scheeren was inspired by the natural landscape of the city of Yibin. The campus has been carefully designed to blend in with the picturesque natural surroundings. This way, nature pours within and merges with the buildings. “The brand, the history, and the wines of Wuliangye hold a strong significance in the consciousness of the city and its people. Our concept draws on this intimate connection and explores Wuliangye’s culture and history as a part of the spatial realm of the city. Inspired by the shape of the existing natural canyon, two folding parallel structures form a dynamic interstitial space. While connecting the adjacent river to the existing headquarters and wider campus, the architecture creates a central space of a fluid indoor-outdoor narrative around nature and wine culture. Moreover, historic artefacts and contemporary architecture enter a dialogue between past, present, and future,” mentions Ole Scheeren, Architect and Principal, Büro Ole Scheeren.

Wuliang Interstice is a celebration of the culture and landscape of the city of Yibin and the legacy of Wuliangye | Wuliang Interstice | Büro Ole Scheeren | STIRworld
Wuliang Interstice is a celebration of the culture and landscape of the city of Yibin and the legacy of Wuliangye Image: Courtesy Büro of Ole Scheeren

The Büro Ole Scheeren Group is a global architecture studio that offers architecture, interior design, and urbanism consulting as well as research and project management. With offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Bangkok, New York, London, and Berlin, the firm conceptualises and executes path-breaking building projects and urban developments. In particular, the Wuliang Interstice campus is a celebration of the culture and landscape of the city of Yibin and the legacy of Wuliangye. “This is a story about the culture and appreciation of wine… and a story about nature and its inspirational beauty and powers. In his poems, Ouyang Xiu, the great poet of the Song Dynasty mused about the intimate relationship and emotional connection between the love of wine and the pleasures of enjoying culture and nature. With our design we explore this conceptual and lyrical space and weave a series of architectural narratives through the elements of nature—mountains, valleys, waterfalls, and rivers. The existing topography of a natural canyon carving the land is extended through two undulating, linear buildings that form a continuous rhythm with the landscape and inscribe an open space of nature and storytelling: Wuliang Interstice,” adds Scheeren.

The campus has been carefully designed to blend in with the scenic natural surroundings | Wuliang Interstice | Büro Ole Scheeren | STIRworld
The campus has been carefully designed to blend in with the scenic natural surroundings Image: Courtesy Büro of Ole Scheeren

"Framing the Wuliang Interstice on either side are Wuliangye World and the Wine Culture Exhibition Centre, rising gently as topographical architectures and meandering through the site to merge with the natural canyon reaching the Min river. A small stream, flowing through the space between the buildings following the narrative of the storytelling connects the Wuliangye Campus with the river, the city, and symbolically, the world beyond,” says the Germany-born architect. Wuliangye World is an experience centre where visitors can engage with the tradition of winemaking, while the exhibition centre tells the story of wine culture through a series of themed exhibition halls.

On either side of Wuliang Interstice, are the Wuliangye World and the Wine Culture Exhibition Centre | Wuliang Interstice | Büro Ole Scheeren | STIRworld
On either side of Wuliang Interstice, are the Wuliangye World and the Wine Culture Exhibition Centre Image: Courtesy Büro of Ole Scheeren

Just like an ancient city’s wall, the Wuliang Interstice campus comprises a number of artefacts that pay homage to the cultural heritage of Yibin. Furthermore, toward the central space of the interstice, the building’s façade design is clad in a permeable structure composed of wood architecture elements and wooden columns, which are evocative of Yibin’s bamboo forest. "The Wuliang Interstice inscribes a journey through time—a relic of the ancient city wall, a pagoda and a buddha sculpture are carefully preserved and enhanced by the new architecture of the Wuliang Interstice and tell about the rich cultural heritage of Yibin. With abstract associations to Yibin's Sea of Bamboo, the world’s largest bamboo forest, the design features a permeable wooden façade screen as a spatial interface between the buildings and the central interstice. The boundary between landscape and buildings is dissolved through a multi-story zone featuring randomised large scale wooden posts, blurring the boundary between inside and outside, and allowing visitors to flow through a series of rich and diverse spatial environments. Here, one can freely stroll, have a rest or chat in the bamboo forests, immersed in the beauty of nature, architecture and spatial narrative,” remarks Scheeren.

The campus is a great example of environmentally sustainable design | Wuliang Interstice | Büro Ole Scheeren | STIRworld
The campus is a great example of environmentally sustainable design Image: Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

The striking campus design of the Wuliang Interstice campus by Büro Ole Scheeren has been built keeping the environment and weather conditions in mind. It is also a great example of environmentally sustainable design. “A diverse system of landscape paths traverses the site to explore the surrounding natural and man-made historical and contemporary architecture and artefacts. The careful inscription of the buildings into the natural topography, and the full integration of nature throughout the entire project form the basis of a highly successful environmental strategy. The meandering form of the interstice induces air flow, thereby greatly enhancing natural ventilation and thermal comfort – further enhanced by the evaporative cooling of the planned water paths and features. The sheltered arcades of the bamboo forest provide effective sun-shading and the main circulation spaces with their bottle-shaped voids and operable skylights increase airflow through the building’s semi-outdoor spaces, thereby creating a comfortable microclimate during the hot, humid seasons while saving energy. Green roofs, in combination with photovoltaic panels fully utilise the undulating roof surfaces as active elements in energy production and water retention strategies,” concludes Scheeren.

  • Wuliangye World is an experience centre, while the exhibition centre tells the story of wine culture | Wuliang Interstice | Büro Ole Scheeren | STIRworld
    Wuliangye World is an experience centre, while the exhibition centre tells the story of wine culture Image: Courtesy Büro of Ole Scheeren
  • The new campus features a number of artefacts that celebrate the cultural heritage of Yibin | Wuliang Interstice | Büro Ole Scheeren | STIRworld
    The new campus features a number of artefacts that celebrate the cultural heritage of Yibin Image: Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

Project Details

Name: Winemakers Campus and Tourism Complex
Location: Yibin, China
Design Architect: Büro Ole Scheeren
Principal / Design: Ole Scheeren
Partner: Dan Cheong
Project Leader: Can Liu
Concept Team: Yuan Cui, Olga Doronina, Suhong Dong, Tingting Guo, Xuechen Kang, Jonathan Kan, Vincent Ku, Di Kong, Yingzhou Li, Bin Liu, Junxue Piao, Justin Tan, Xingnan Wang, Zhen Wei, Jianfeng Yin, Lydia Zhou, with Jinkun Huang, Yiwen Xing, Danfeng Zou, Yiqu Zhang, Hangxu Jin, Jayden Lau, Loris Liu, Tubohao Yang
Visual Team: Yimeng Bao, Shanil Riyaz, Bruno Zhao, Shengxiao Zhao, Jun Qian
Sustainability Consultant: Buro Happold
Commercial Strategy Consultant: Cushman Wakefield
Structure Consultant: ARUP

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