The project was designed by JSPA Design and consisted of an Oatmeal factory, transforming raw oat into flour products in Ningwu, China. The production process, primarily automated, needed two production lines with high-volume machinery and spaces open to the public with shop, café, and office spaces.
The Oatmeal Factory Technical Information
- Architects: JSPA Design
- Location: Ningwu, Shanxi province, China
- Topics: Factories, Brick in Architecture
- Design period: March 2018 – March 2019
- Construction period: July 2019 – October 2021
- Site area: 23,800 m2
- Photographs: © Schran Images
The choice of construction materials carries a strong meaning: using grey brick is a way to create a deep relationship with the site using local construction methods. Exposed concrete, on the other hand, emphasizes the modernity of the building and allows structure and architecture to be bound together.– JSPA Design
The Oatmeal Factory Photographs
Text by the Architects
The project’s surroundings offered poor quality, with newly constructed industrial buildings, dry landscapes, and coal mines. It seemed interesting to develop the factory as an introverted building that would recreate its natural environment. Besides satisfying all functional requirements, we thought of the project as a building that stimulates the human senses, and that would propose a theatrical experience to the visitor.
The idea was to use a system of brick walls to enclose and hide the various technical spaces of the factory into an opaque ground floor and to set up a simple concrete volume on top of it to host all the public program. Patios and large gardens will pierce the whole building to provide natural light while creating impressive spatial dilatations within the factory. Central production spaces will also get natural light from concrete sheds, opening the roof to the north light.
The system of brick walls starts from the front of the factory, where a landscape area is voluntarily left open to the use of the local community with benches and water pools for kids to play. Brick walls grow slowly from benches shape to become the property fence of the factory and, later, the façade of the whole building.
The shape taken by the brick walls will form and define the different entrances of the factory, each with a specific function: The raw materials delivery, the products loading, the staff, and the visitor entry. Separated into distinct paths, staff and visitors will never crossways inside the factory. While the workers enjoy a functional organization, the visitor will go through a planned spatial experience. At one moment, the production line is showcased to the visitor in an elevated corridor overlooking the workshop.
The dormitory for employees was set up in the back of the factory and conceived as an invisible architecture. The brick fence wall was thickened to host the building, and patios were created to bring light to the rooms while preserving their intimacy. The space between the factory and the dorm becomes a garden with a concrete table and square seats.
The choice of construction materials carries a strong meaning: using grey brick is a way to create a deep relationship with the site using local construction methods. Exposed concrete, on the other hand, emphasizes the modernity of the building and allows structure and architecture to be bound together.
The landscape design is also fully integrated into the design process, and rainwater collected on the roof is redirected to water pools on different levels through cast-in-place concrete water exhausts, making the natural circulation of rainwater part of the experience of the space. The water flows until the factory’s entrance, where a last waterfall, combined with a twelve meters cantilever concrete logo wall, invites the visitor to enter the architecture.
Across the design process, some regulatory issues were solved through design. Fire-fighting regulations required a water container on the roof that we decided to design as an independent element, a cantilevered stainless-steel box, like a sculpture on the roof.
The Oatmeal Factory Plans
The Oatmeal Factory Image Gallery
About JSPA Design
JSPA Design is a Beijing-based French design studio established in 2009 that works on architecture, interior, landscape, and product design. Adopting modern design methods and removing common style concepts, they focus on creating evocative architecture that stimulates the human senses by working with light, shade, space, and materiality.
Exploration of architectural expression and reinterpretation of local construction materials allow them to deliver projects that are at the same time unquestionably contemporary but also deeply rooted in their site.
The dialogue between nature and architecture takes significant importance in their work. The design process focuses on how architecture can coexist with its environment or even how nature can impose itself on architecture and enter the building.
Works from JSPA Design
- Principle architects: Johan Sarvan, Florent Buis
- Architecture height: 15 meters
- Structural engineer: Jiangjie Design
- MEP Consultant: Jiangjie Design
- Building materials: grey bricks, red bricks, and concrete
- Cost: 70 million RMB