With its low profile and gentle curves, HHD_FUN’s design for Rizhao Visitor Center sits on the ground elegantly. At first, there is no visual differentiation between roof and walls, rather just one large covering surface, spanning unconventional distances.

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects - images © Zhenfei Wang, Chenggui Wang

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects – images © Zhenfei Wang, Chenggui Wang

The site is on the north part of the Shanhaitian beach park, that runs for a little over a mile (2 km). The Visitor Center would be adjacent to a plaza that will attract a large number of tourists, especially during peak season.There are 19 individual ‘buildings,’ each stemming from the same prototype, but varying in size and orientation depending on location and function. Their arrangement creates an interesting configuration and a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects - images © Zhenfei Wang, Chenggui Wang

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects – images © Zhenfei Wang, Chenggui Wang

The plaza is the point of entry. Three open stairs lead up to the plaza and four different paths come from the seaside. The visitor center consists of two floors: underground and aboveground. Some of the program that exists underground includes retail, dining, movie theatre, public showrooms, and other various forms of entertainment. The architects have freed up a large amount of the ground level and reserved it for a boardwalk-type area that blends nicely with neighboring plaza and park. They housed much of the program below ground. This allows a feeling of minimal intrusion onto the ground.

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects

They’ve developed a special structural steel system that allows long, uninterrupted, column-free spans. The building uses parametric design strategies to maximize the use of resources while creating spaces that fit the interior needs. From HHD_FUN: ‘Parametric design technique has been adopted throughout all design process i.e. form finding, structure optimization, façade penalization and construction documentation, which make sure the complex shape can be ‘made’ by local low technology manufacturer. ‘Low Technology Parametric Design’ is our strategy to face China’s construction situation’.

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects - images © Zhenfei Wang, Chenggui Wang

Courtesy of HHD_FUN Architects – images © Zhenfei Wang, Chenggui Wang

HHD_FUN have created a complex manipulation of the ground, while seeming to have little intrusion onto it. It is interesting that on the ground, all one would see are sleek volumes spanning along the Shanhaitian beach park, whereas much happens beneath the ground, hidden from first view. It is almost as if the top level is the ‘cap’ to the activities that happen below. The result is a series of sleek volumes, creating a rich undulating surface along the beach park.

By:Aiysha Alsane

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