Completed in 2010 by Chinese architecture firm West-line studio, the Concrete Memorial in Huangpi Dong, China, is configured by a succession of three different ‘enclosed’ spaces, which create a quiet and meditative atmosphere.
Concrete Memorial Technical Information
- Architects1-2: West-line studio
- Typology: Cultural Architecture / Memorial
- Location: Huangpi Dong, Chishui, Guizhou Province, China
- Completion year: 2010
- Program: Red Army Combat Commemoration and Memorial Scenic Site
- Landscape Area: 2,900 sqm
- Images: © Haobo Wei, Martina Muratori
A solitary rough concrete monument rises from destruction to let people remember a past battle.
– West-line studio Architects
Concrete Memorial Photographs
Text by the Architects
The Huangpi Dong combat site, located in Tiantai Town, 12km from Chishui City, is a well-renowned tourist spot in south-west China. At the top of the mountain, reachable by a steep route through a bamboo forest, the concrete monument is surrounded by a stunning view.
The memorial site is created by a succession of three different ‘enclosed’ spaces, which create a quiet and meditative atmosphere. A long narrow ramp, characterized by a U-shaped section, cuts the central area. The ramp’s floor is made by a bloody shiny concrete, where shadows get deep and endless. The circular half-closed space around the tower is built on a lower and concave floor level.
First, the ramp, which breaks into the circle, and then this round lower space introduces the main element, the tower, which stands solitary at the top of the mountain. It originated from a folded concrete movement, which creates a sharp and iconic light well inside.
Due to the project’s location in a remote mountainous area, a low budget of just 400.000¥ (50.000€), and local workers’ lack of experience, architects opted for self-compacting concrete, which would lower manufacturing costs. This choice helped overcome the following issues:
- Difficult transportation
- High temperatures and high humidity (corrosion-discoloration-mildew)
- Finding materials in the local area
- Maintenance problems
All the walls and the geometrical elements are made of cast-in-place concrete (wood quarterdeck dimensions: 2.4m x 1.2m). Low-cost materials and poor construction skills resulted in several damages during the quarterdecks opening, like scars and pulling marks. All these different levels of defects were deliberate results and emphasized the memorial’s rough, harsh, and lonely atmosphere. The paving is also composed of a mixture of concrete pieces made from Chishui local grit-stone (sandstone) infiltrated with red iron powder (single unit dimensions: 24cm x12cm x6cm).
Every year, during the Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival), members of the Chishui Municipal Committee meet at the Huangpi Dong Memorial to honor the Qingming ceremony. Walking around the monument is a way to show their respect, commemorating the lives of the soldiers. In the square, they also stop having lectures and retrace the historic battle, surrounded by iconic shapes, bloody concrete, sharp shadows, and the unique view from the top of the mountain.
Concrete Memorial Plans
Concrete Memorial Image Gallery
About West-line studio
West-line Studio is based in Guiyang, the Guizhou province of South-West China, and exclusively works in that region. The practice was founded in 2001 and has always been researching and working on contemporary vernacular architecture around the Karst geomorphologic area and local subcultures’ diversity.
- Design Team: Haobo Wei, Jingsong Xie, Minghua Ou,
- Graphic: Martina Muratori