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Concrete Twist

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It would be easy to make eyes at the recently built Lafayette 148 building in Shantou and not expect much play. To think, however, that it is simply another fashionable façade wrapping a dumb box would be a mistake. The building is not just a fling, and may be a long lasting affair.

Completed in 2008 by Mehrdad Hadighi of Studio for Architecture and Tsz Yan Ng, the building houses all of the functions of the Lafayette 148 clothing label and is organized around the flow of production, literally from conception to shipment of the final product. Office and design studios are placed at the top. Each stage of production is stacked on the floors below. The entry level functions as showroom and has the ability to transform into a runway. The building is, however, much more than a diagram of production. Throughout the building the architects deftly carved into the block to allow light to penetrate into the core and even provide exterior spaces that one is able to occupy. These spaces also help to mitigate the use of artificial cooling by drawing hot air from the building. Post-tensioned beams span the entire width of the floors, thus removing any need for interior columns. The result is a truly free plan that accommodates the wide variety of programmatic needs as well as offering bright and open workspaces.

It is difficult, however, not to catch yourself staring at that façade.

Composed of a series of free flowing concrete fins, the façade flirts with the viewer offering a peek here and there. At night it becomes even more revealing. But is this simply another exercise in the recently fashionable façade wrapping? The Fabric Tower by Atelier Maferdini (Guiyang China, 2008) offers a telling counterpoint. According to Manferdini’s website, the 14,000 square metre housing tower is, “an articulate response to the site’s natural landscape and its minority cultures, expressing a contemporary, progressive, creative, and original vision of local traditions.”

Via Domus

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