GMP converts Shanghai steelworks into art academy

GMP converts Shanghai steelworks into art academy

Gmp has won a competition to redesign a disused stainless steel factory that would house the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. In line with China’s new interest in adaptive reuse, the project retains the central structure of the 860-meter-long industrial building, as well as its ventilation towers. At the same time, it redraws the facade and accentuates the central axis through a mix of social spaces. The design is part of a larger redevelopment plan to transform the former industrial site into an arts district.

© Willmore CG© Willmore CG© Willmore CG© Willmore CG+ 12

© Willmore CG
© Willmore CG

The stainless steel factory dates back to 1986 and closed in 2016 after playing an important role in the country’s industrial production. The site has been designated as the new main site of the Shanghai Academy of Art, one of China’s leading art institutions and an important entity for international art exchange. Gmp won the industrial building renovation competition against several established firms such as Kengo Kuma and Associates, Perkins & Will or Ennead Architects.

© Willmore CG
© Willmore CG

The main feature of the design is a central space running east to west along the central axis of the whole building, constituting the main circulation while grouping together a series of spaces allowing students, teachers and campus visitors to meet and interact. The space also doubles as an exhibition space. Along this axis there are five intersection points, where the traffic becomes a bridge to allow pedestrian and motorized north-south traffic.


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The project replaces the facade with large glazed panels lined with a metal mesh. This double-skin facade, combined with the existing natural ventilation of the roof, allows natural cooling and energy savings. The indoor space will include studios, a publicly accessible forum with restaurants, a library, sports facilities, a museum and exhibition spaces. The site of the Academy of Arts will accommodate 4,000 students and 600 teachers.

Mildred D. Field