Renovation of Tianjin Tractor Factory

Archiland with Tianjin Architecture Design Institute

Tianjin Tractor Factory is old industrial complex that has made outstanding contributions to the development of China’s industry since the 1950s. It is a significant feature of Tianjin, and provides a memory of an era. Therefore, its transformation is of great importance, but furthermore, memories of this piece of urban history needed to be protected.

Its transformation into a cultural and commercial area required an enhancement of the original architecture. The original buildings have a ‘delicate’ mechanical grid structure, which needed to be preserved. Many of the buildings (originally warehouses) have characteristic red-brick facades and large interior volumes, which now lend themselves to new functions such as offices, fine-dining restaurants, car parking, sport spaces and so on. Meaningful characteristic structures, such as special silos, chimneys and core plants have also been retained.

Previously, the large, undivided internal spaces of the factory buildings suited the needs of machinery and large-scale industrial operations. For the transformation, the interiors needed a shift to the human scale. The original volumes were divided into two or more floors with volumes appropriate to these modern activities. Interesting spatial nodes were introduced and pedestrian circulation routes were enhanced. Through collage and juxtaposition, the old texture is combined with new urban functions and spaces. The plant spaces are divided by inner streets so as to achieve the humanisation of the industrial scale.

For the urban renewal of the central city, it is not only the upgrading of the industrial structures that is important; so too is the carrying forward of urban history and culture, and the construction of new urban lifestyles. Transformation is no longer defined solely by demolition and reconstruction; rather, it is about adopting a more refined way to shape the unique culture of an area and recreate a liveable city life.

Furniture: Muyi Furniture. Lighting: Tianjin Jincai Engineering. Finishes: Fujian Wanshi Curtain Wall Engineering, Zhejiang Wanxiang Curtain Wall Decoration Engineering. Fittings & Fixtures: Tianjin Xinyi Glass.

Photography: Hui Zhang