Meizhou Visitor Center
Location: Meizhou, China
Area: 3000 m2
The new visitor centre for the city of Meizhou reflects the context of the programme in relation to the existing Hakka building onsite.
This historic building exemplifies a culture and tradition of the past that should inform the visitors of today. The proposal emulates the typical “in-the-round” circular planning of Hakka culture and centres the restored Hakka building in the suggested courtyard, as the focal point for the site. In this way, the proposal serves the dual purpose of representing Hakka planning in a contemporary setting and respecting the buildings of the past. We believe this is EXACTLY the experience a cultural visitor centre should provide.
The language of the proposal is necessarily under-stated and subtle to enhance the significance of the existing building. The simple radial plan is borne of an exaggerated timber structural frame influenced by the Chinese character 介 , having a meaning strongly representative of Hakka cultural moral. The etfe roof infills the framing, providing shelter and accentuating the circular planning, whilst allowing a light and open interior of minimal support, designed to create an expansive sense of space. The extensive use of glass facades lends the proposed building great transparency, offering glimpses of the heritage building from almost all vantage points through and around the site.
The material palette is minimal –timber, etfe, glass and solid brick walls reminiscent of traditional Hakka building typology, humble the building. This restraint in materialism and form juxtaposes the significant height of the building and provides the visitor centre with the presence of a simple umbrella or feather, borne on the wind, trying to soar upward to the heavens whilst tentatively touching the ground.
The concentric planning creates a perimeter “outer wall” serving to enclose a courtyard of contemplative and comfortable space that suggests an audience reviewing the existing heritage building on centre-stage.
We hope the simple planning, imposing structure and unique roofline inform the Meizhou Visitor Centre with sensibilities of respect, honesty and reverence toward the history and tradition of Hakka Culture.