Shui Cultural Center – West-Line Studio Project

Shui Cultural Center – Data About the Project

Location: Sandu County, Guizhou Province, China
Area surface: 13,808.04 sqm
Building surface: 4,223.59 sqm
Floor no.: 3


Design: Haobo Wei, Jingsong Xie
Architecture and Landscape: Yudan Luo
Site Construction Control: Haobo Wei, Minghua Ou
Interior Design: Martina Muratori
Structure: Yuanping Li, Xiaoqiang Yang
Equipment: Hongbo Shi
Photo: Jingsong Xie, Zheng Jinda, Yin Zhili, Kang Hongsen, Xie Haibo

About West-Line Studio

The West-Line Studio has been founded over ten years ago and has always been paying attention to the basic working pattern – geopolitical order + public life model + atmosphere creating + composite construction. The firm looks to keep the original status of the geographical space and the stable expression of the emotions. It even succeeds to realize a coexisting structure of place order and place the spirit in the background of the contemporary universal society, effectively protecting the humanity of the rural habitats and seeking the reconstruction method of the rural social public life in the background of the dual social structure (universal + consanguineous).


The projects’ location is Guizhou Provence, the land of Shui, a Cultural Center that is a gateway to Sandu County. The Shui people still retain their own language, together with their unique system of pictographs, despite being few in number. The West-Line Studio Team’s aim was to translate Shui’s ancient rituals into the design, through the use of overlapping roofs, bronze, altars and in recreating a holy atmosphere, while the whole project reminds of the Shui traditions and long history.

The site is surrounded by water on three sides and covers an area of 13,800 square meters. On the other side, the Westside, a water square welcomes the visitors guiding them to the entrance.

Yulong Tower – bronze drum on the top

Yulong tower is situated north of the water and it has a bronze drum on the top. The drum, cast in bronze, is a ritualistic element in Shui culture and inspired the architects to use perforated bronze plates to cover the building. Bronze plates are easily subjected to color changes and corrosion because of the acidity present in the local air quality. Architects used 12 combined processes to overcome corrosion problems, to make the building shining under the sun for a longer time as the particular texture of the bronze has a special meaning in this project. The pattern makes the plates lighter – a thin skin which creates a contrast with the heavy concrete structure – breaking the sunlight to create a dramatic effect once inside. Although it doesn’t have any aesthetic value, the high perforation rate also helps to prevent technological defects on the overall surface texture.

Pinewood is one of the most common materials in the Sandu area

The concrete is marked strongly by a wooden pattern, given by the pine quarterdecks. Pinewood is one of the most common materials in the Sandu area and the contemporary concrete structure echoes the local traditional wooden architecture. The architects established a whole concrete production process-based matrix, reducing the difficulty in construction for large areas of fair-faced concrete, due to the lack of resources and local expertise in concrete architecture.

Shui Center – Three-level building

The building itself consists of three main stripes, which combine all the functions of the tourist-cultural center. The first is the ritual hall, which with its sharp edges, strong colors and narrow space aims to create a strong first impression on visitors. The second stripe still keeps the sharp roof but welcomes visitors with less dramatic tones and serves cultural exhibition and reception hall. In the third stripe, which has three floors, at the ground level we lose the pitch roof to find a more conventional space that includes all the main functions: visitor and service center, cafeteria, toilets, business center and an upstairs office area. On the third floor is displayed a small collection of Shui’s books.

In conclusion

This project well sums up West-line’s researches and its approach to the design. With its iconic and distinct shape, the Shui Cultural Center stands as a new contemporary landmark that pays homage to the local culture and traditional architecture. The Shui culture is evoked using particular materials and shapes but also in recreating a holy space, able to submerge the visitor who is guided into a magic journey through the Shui’s ancestral world.

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