Alvaro Siza’s first major project in China
floats in an industrial park


News: Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza has completed work on a large curved office building for the Shihlien Chemical Industrial Jiangsu Co in an industrial park in China's Jiangsu province (+ slideshow).

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

The Pritkzer Prize-winning architect was appointed to design a new office building for the company's soda ash and ammonium chloride production plant in Huai'An City in 2009.

Called The Building on the Water, the structure sits on an island in the middle of a 100,000-square-metre artificial lake at New Salt Industrial Park and is formed in the shape of an elongated 300-metre curve.

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

The white concrete used to build the structure has been left exposed across the facade to create a uniform appearance that contrasts with the green roofs used on sections of the building.

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

"Contorting itself, the form escapes from convention, an autonomous entity contrasting with the orthogonal shapes of the factory complex," said a design statement from Shihlien Group.

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

"In constant interplay with the environment – whether it is the changing hues and reflections of the water, or varying tones of light and shadow, the building manifests a multitude of changing complexions. Whether viewed from land, water or air, the elegant building conveys a quiet beauty achieved when the concrete and substantial comes in contact with the fluid and ethereal," added the company.

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

A total of 11,000 square metres of floor space is provided across two storeys, with bridges connecting the spaces across sections of the curve. The building is due to officially open on 30 August.

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

"Mr. Siza has always upheld the design concept of establishing harmony between man and the environment," said Por-Shih Lin, chairman of Shihlien Chemical. "This building ingeniously blends with the waterscape and plant grounds. As the first project in China by Álvaro Siza, it will be an inspiration for future industrial plant designs in the country and is truly significant for that reason."

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

Siza was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. Earlier this year he presented plans to build a new entrance and visitor centre for the Alhambra palace, and renovated his iconic waterside Boa Nova Tea House into a seafood restaurant last month.

The Building on the Water, Shihlien Chemical by Alvaro Siza

Photography is by Fernando Guerra – ÚLTIMAS REPORTAGENS | FG+SG

Project credits:

Client: Por-Shih Lin, Chairman, Shihlien Chemical Industrial Jiangsu Co., Ltd Architects: Álvaro Siza & Carlos Castanheira
Project management & construction supervision: Stephen Wang & Richard Wang Local partner: United Architects & Engineers Co., Ltd

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  • Kelvin

    I usually don’t like projects in China, because they are normally lousy showy buildings, which doesn’t make any sense. But, this one does surprise me and it looks “cool” indeed.

    • xun

      Yeap, indeed, you just know “cool”.

  • R2 D2

    China and Siza. Two separate worlds.

  • Peter Clust

    Is it abandoned? It looks like another abandoned building in China. And the photos are so boring…

  • Like a snake

    Wavy and floating. Genius.

  • Dave Carcamano

    Another boring project from an overrated architect. Let’s see if, now that he too took a job from the Chinese regime, will still be the darling of architecture critics who so often condemn the star architects.

  • Olgiati

    I think I might sell all my Siza books now he has gone all Ando-esque. I feel bitterly disappointed. Every architect seems to chase big useless commissions from money waving nobodies with big egos.

    • Dave Carcamano

      Hats off to your honesty.

  • megatim

    Only Siza can do this…

  • Pedro

    Overrated architect? Are you sure you do not need a shovel to bury a little more? Ignorant comment. Siza is one of the few architects who really gives value to space, here there is no “show off”. Before talking, seriously study the history behind Álvaro Siza.

    • Dave Carcamano

      Yeah whatever… value to space… same old gibberish associated with Siza. BTW I had him as a teacher.

      • Pedro

        You have to realize the career of the architect and not ostracise one or another work and quickly call him tedious. I also do not particularly like this project, even the latest “Asian” ones. But is not because of this terminal phase (and understandable, if you’re seeing his journey from the beginning and his age) that the route he has done so far it goes to zero. He is one of the few truly great architects who rarely failed throughout his career.

        And sincerely, it’s not because you were his student that makes you a good expert, if at the first comment you have told that you read some things from him, then yes, maybe you won credibility – a good architect does not necessarily make a good teacher. I currently study at the school projected by him in Porto and disliked him but I learned (by myself) and finally realised what makes it what it is.

        Like or dislike the approach of an architect it’s comprehensible, but sum up Siza to a overrated architect is simply absurd.

  • Dave Carcamano

    It’s called Stockholm Syndrome. You’ll get over it, eventually. Good luck.

    • HW

      @davecarcamano:disqus, I am trying to find your website. I am guessing you can show us architecture properly executed. Give us the link.