Yangzhou Riverside
Vandeventer + Carlander

Yangzhou Riverside

Vandeventer + Carlander Architects as Architects

Part of a much larger development, Yangzhou Riverside is a pedestrian commercial and retail street that flanks a new canal in the rapidly expanding city of Yangzhou. Modeled after the riverside experience of San Antonio, Texas, this project draws from the depth of Chinese culture to create an environment that speaks to both China's past and its emergence as a vigorous, forward-looking country.


When developing the formal diagram for this project, we researched different geometric patterns of traditional Chinese screens. From the multitude of screen patterns studied, we were drawn to the interlocking geometries and offset repetition found within the chosen pattern. With further analysis, it became clear that the geometries could be used as a basis for making both macro and micro levels of design decisions, thus enabling a holistic approach to designing the project. Utilizing the pattern both in plan and section, on a multitude of scales and with varying materials, the screen pattern unifies the disparate parts of the project. At the same time, the pattern allows for a varied experience which is critically important in Chinese culture. Special consideration was given to the central "L"-shaped forms in the pinwheel of the pattern. This module would become a signature element throughout the entire design and shows up equally as object and void.


Bridging between past and present, the project references the historical vernacular of Yangzhou through abstraction of form and material. The project was developed with four major elements. All structures feature a rusticated stone base, similar in material, texture, and detail as that found along existing canals in Yangzhou. Second, buildings feature white, opaque surfaces recalling the stucco surfaces of older buildings. White pre-cast concrete panels utilize a photo catalyst additive to decompose organic dirt to keep the surfaces clean and bright. The panels are both flat-surfaced and embossed with the screen pattern. Third, the design employs the vernacular form of the gable roof, but the walls and roofs are sheathed in modern, weathering steel. The deep brown/red patina of the weathering steel is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional wood structures that line the canals throughout Yangzhou. Contained within each gable form is a wood post and beam structure that also reflects the traditional wood construction techniques of the region. And fourth, curtain wall glazing used throughout the project feature a frit application based on the chosen screen pattern. The frit design matches the scale of the pattern used on the pre-cast concrete panels. These glazed, fritted forms become translucent "Lanterns" along the canal.

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