People's Architecture Office's typographic pipe installation

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People's Architecture Office uses ventilation pipes to create typographic installation

Chinese studio People's Architecture Office used metal air conditioning pipes to create giant Chinese characters on the facade of the Tubular Baitasi visitor centre during Beijing Design Week 2015.

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office

The visitor centre was established to host events and exhibitions that showcase "regeneration strategies" for Beijing's Baitasi – a cultural and historical preservation zone and hutong area within the Chinese capital.

People's Architecture Office used sections of metal piping normally installed for heating, air conditioning or ventilation purposes to spell out the Chinese letters 白塔寺, meaning White Pagoda Temple, on the exterior of the building.

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office

This is a reference to a nearby 700-year-old structure, which passersby can see if they peer inside sections of the piping that were purposefully left open by the architects.

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office

These periscope-like sections also offer views of the People's Commune Building – a 1950s experimental housing complex – as well as glimpses into the second floor of the visitor centre, which houses the Architectural Association's teaching space and a 3D-print shop.

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office

"The multi-storey building uses ubiquitous HVAC metal ducts as a type of architectural vernacular," said the architects. "The design of the facade aims to engage the public in various ways."

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office

U-shaped sections of the piping extend from the building, offering seating for pedestrians to rest on.

The piping continues inside the building, providing display spaces, desks and podiums for exhibition spaces. It also forms furniture for visitors, pipes extending like branches from central tables to form seats.

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office

Beijing Design Week ran from 24 September until 1 October. In a previous edition, People's Architecture Office developed a panelling system that could be used to build temporary living spaces within the ageing structures of the city's hutong districts.

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office

Other architectural practices have also proposed alternatives for Beijing's ancient houses, with local firm ReMIX Studio transforming a traditional residence in the Dashilar area into its own office, and Arch Studio redeveloping a derelict building into a tea house.

Photography is by People's Architecture Office and Liqun Zhao.

Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office
Diagram of facade installation – click for larger image
Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office
Second floor exhibition space layout – click for larger image
Tubular Baitasi visitor centre for Beijing Design Week 2015 by People's Architecture Office
Exploded furniture diagram – click for larger image