Red Box Exhibition Center / MIX Architecture

Architects: MIX Architecture
Area: 700 m²
Year: 2023
Photography: Arch-Exist, Haiting Sun, Xiaobin Lv
Landscape: MIX Architecture, Nanjing Hengzi Environmental engineering Co., Ltd.
Lighting Consultant: LUMIA Lab
Structural Consultant: Shanghai Wilderness Structural Des. Firm Inc.
Design Team: Suning Zhou, Ziye Wu, Ke Yang, Qian Shi, Tao Tang
Systematic Windows And Doors: VBM architecture
Construction Drawings Design: Nanjing Xinghua Architecture design and Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Landscape Construction Drawings Design: Nanjing 2nd Architecture Design Institute Company
Consultants: BETONBAU Shanghai Kejian New Materials Technology Co., Ltd.
Terrazzo: EST Building Materials Technology Co., Ltd.
Clients: Nanjing Construction Machinery Works Co., Ltd.
Program / Use / Building Function: Cultural center, Exhibition center
City: Nanjing
Country: China

Red Box Exhibition Center, designed by Mix Architecture, in Nanjing, China, is a 700 m² structure completed in 2023. Located in Hongchuang Park at the foot of Red Mountain, the building is crafted from red concrete, symbolizing historical, architectural, and natural elements. This unique structure integrates seamlessly with its surroundings, offering a distinct red spatial experience that evolves with time.

Red box exhibition center / mix architecture

The Red Box is located at the foot of Red Mountain, Nanjing, within Hongchuang Park, also designed by Mix Architecture. Surrounded by forest, the sculptural volume of the Red Box stands out. Made of red concrete, the “red” aspect responds to the environment in three ways. First, the Red Box reflects the “red” of chronological memory, referencing the history of Hongchuang Park, formerly Nanjing Combat Machinery Factory, founded in the 1950s and symbolizing several generations of growth. Second, it echoes the “red” of the original red brick buildings in Hongchuang Park, maintaining the factory’s rhythm.

Red concrete is poured using wooden templates, mimicking the texture of existing red bricks. Finally, the building connects to the “red” of Red Mountain. Originally called the “Great Spectacular Mountain” during the Six Dynasties era, it was renamed “Red Mountain” in 1948 due to its reddish soil and hematite content. The main component of hematite, iron oxide, is the same additive that gives the red concrete its color.

The building, located on the south side of the park’s entrance plaza, resembles a red stone at the foot of Red Mountain. Entering the building reveals a red spatial experience, distinct from daily routines. The entrance resembles a small angle cut from a reclining stone, dominated by darkness and twists, resembling a dimly red cave. A wooden door with a vertical corrugated texture next to a curved wall adds softness to the cave. Subtle light from a circular hole at the top indicates entry. Upon grasping the black metal handle and pushing open the wooden door, soft light spills out, captivating those who enter.

From the exterior to the interior, people experience an almost otherworldly environment inside the red stone. With flowing space, red concrete surfaces, and red terrazzo floor tiles, the interior appears as if carved from a single stone. The space is filled with red light and air, changing with time. The double-height entrance hall flows to public spaces on both the east and west sides. Clear glass in public areas integrates seamlessly with the courtyard. The western space connects to the largest courtyard, where a large tree covers almost half of the area, its leaves alternating between yellow and green with the seasons. A surrounding corridor encircles a mirror-like water feature reflecting the tree, sky, and ripples, bringing the greenery of Red Mountain into the courtyard.

On the eastern side, both the north and south sides are courtyards, blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces. A pine tree in the southern courtyard remains evergreen throughout the seasons. Ascending the stairs, a corridor-like bridge connects the two spaces on the second floor. Large glass panels on the lounge bridge dissolve architectural boundaries. Standing on the bridge, people capture scenic views of the park to the north and the greenery of Red Mountain to the south. The second-floor spaces feature circular or brick-shaped semi-transparent acrylic materials embedded in the red concrete walls, allowing light to filter into the interior and scatter. From the interior to the large terrace, Red Mountain rushes into view, making the building a frame while the mountain blends into the red box.

At night, the building subtly emits warm light to the outside, as if the interior brightness is pushing outward through cracks. The semi-transparent acrylic creates star-like patterns that blend into the night sky. As the only newly constructed building in the renovation of the Nanjing Combat Machinery Factory (Hongchuang Park), the Red Box honors the site’s historical significance while resembling the solid, coherent volume of industrial buildings. It expresses the new building’s inheritance of the site’s history and spirit.

The architecture simultaneously presents a sense of the future and forms a spatial atmosphere built from intricate perceptions. The interplay of the red-infused space, the reflected external environment, the shadow of skylights, and translucent openings create a distinctive experience. This continuation and evolution of the site’s interpretation offer another way to feel a sense of the future within the extensive historical context.

Red box exhibition center / mix architecture
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Gulou, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

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