Shangri-La Shougang Park: a reinterpreted industrial building

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Shangri-La Shougang Park: an industrial building converted into a fantastic hotel

Lissoni & Partners designed Shangri-La Shougang Park, a new hotel in Beijing that reinvents industrial architecture for hospitality

Located approximately 20 km from the Forbidden City historic site, Shangri-La Shougang Park was inaugurated just as the recent Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics began. Impressively designed by Milan-based architects Lissoni & Partners, the new hotel offers a refreshing take on Beijing architecture, housed in the remains of an abandoned industrial building from the 1920s reformed in the 1990s.

Bridging eras, the five-star hotel is a mix of existing components of the site’s industrial architecture and new additions that, as the architects explain, form “a series of interconnected structures.” These are roughly divided into two areas: the main building, which handles the hotel’s more social and communal functions, and the guest room building, which houses its 282 rooms.

The main building is encased in an elaborate glass façade that acts as a “transparent skin”. It encloses the original industrial components such as concrete walls and steel roof trusses, which are exposed in all their glory. This juxtaposition of old and new materials is highlighted by a significant green element, “almost as if nature is trying to take possession of these once-abandoned buildings,” notes the team. The plants illuminate and regulate the room climate with their presence.

Lissoni & Partners used the existing industrial scale and arranged the floor plan over two floors in the main building, making use of the distinctive interior height of 20 m. As a result, the ground floor contains a large sheltered square with bars and restaurants that reach out and welcome visitors. On the other side, on the second floor, is the hotel reception and an extended lounge area, crafted from a custom-designed timber structure that the architects describe as an intimate “nest”. In contrast, a spa, which includes a pool and gym, is encased in glass and embedded separately within the industrial structure.

A newly built extension of the main building creates its own multi-purpose event space. Here, intricately crafted black ceramic bricks clad the façade, setting this part of the complex apart from the nearby glass exterior and smaller volumes of the guest room building.

Again, industrial elements such as the large ventilation ducts are exposed throughout as part of the architects’ conceptual reference to the building’s history and context.

An elevated bridge connects the Main and Guestroom hubs. The architects juxtaposed the industrial imagery of the main building and created a softer atmosphere in the sleeping areas, both through the overall size (volumes are more compact and feature smaller, vertical openings) and through more subtle visual references to the site’s past life.

The facade is made of masonry and sustainable materials for optimal thermal and ventilation performance. Muted tones and ornaments that refer to local traditions adorn the rooms.

Lissoni & Partners explains its overall approach: “To give balance and proportion to the structure, the façade is visually divided into three different horizontal layers: the ground floor with terraces and cantilevered canopies that detach the building from the ground and give it a touch of lightness; a second and more compact layer; and finally a large canopy that hovers over the roof, protecting it from direct sunlight and concealing the MP [mechanical, electrical and plumbing] areas.’

Traditional craftsmanship and local culture are ubiquitous at Shangri-La Shougang Park through custom-made furniture and contemporary Chinese art. Installations referencing the site’s industrial past are on display throughout the building, handpicked by Lissoni & Partners and Hong Kong art consultant Debut Studio.

Overall, Shangri-La Shougang Park seamlessly blends the old and the new, carefully layered and thoroughly redesigned. The history of the building evokes the fantastic with its interweaving of eras, materials, proportions and functions all coming together to create a ship of the future.

Lissoni & Partners builds on careful design gestures, working with a historical architectural ruin, perhaps borrowing from the way the great, late Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill composed his famous Cement Factory – an architecture that is not about concealment but a celebration of a converted industrial building. §

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