MAD Architects released designs for the Jiaxing Civic Center in Jiaxing, China. The vision for MAD’s scheme, embracing innovation, coherence, environmental friendliness, openness, and co-sharing, resonates with the historical heritage of the city.
With river views and lush vegetation, the Jiaxing Civic Center is situated along the city’s central axis. The project holds a prominent position; adjacent to South Lake, a historic lake in the South of Jiaxing, and Central Park, the largest park in the city. The site also lies next to the Haiyan river channel connecting the two cities of Jiaxing and Haiyan. Spanning approximately 130,000 m2 (1.4 million sf), the site contains three venues: the Science and Technology Museum, the Women and Children Activity Center, and the Youth Activity Center, forming a total construction area of 180,000 m2 (2 million sf), and a site footprint of 72,000 m2 (775,002 sf).
For the Jiaxing Civic Center, MAD designed an artistic entity on an urban scale, where architectural forms and landscapes fuse together. With a large circular lawn as the centerpiece, the project is one where people and buildings can interact and share, forming a more open, dynamic new urban space.
The center’s three venues are linked together “hand in hand,” enclosed by a circular roof to form a single entity. The organic flow of the lines throughout the project echoes the softness and grace of the ancient canal towns lining the southern banks of the Yangtze River in Eastern China.
The central circular lawn anchoring the buildings allows for the large architectural volumes to dissipate and dissolve into the landscape. Adjacent to the South Lake, the waterfront building sits within the central park, covered with locally produced white ceramic panels. The panels respond to the traditional barrel tile roofs of the local village, while also enhancing the scheme’s economic and energy efficiency.
Meanwhile, the project’s floating roof forms a continuous skyline, like a tarp blown by the wind, bringing a sense of wrapping to the form. Whether visitors are on the central lawn, outside the park, or on the building’s links and pathways, the scenery appears to change with their movement.
To maintain the cohesiveness of a single entity, the three venues serving exhibition, education, and amenity functions are coherently arranged under the curvaceous roof, naturally forming an interdependent group with a flowing line of movement. The spaces are organically weaved together to complement one another.
The first floor of the center has connections to the surrounding environment on all sides, through bordering the municipal traffic and wider landscape, or connecting the central lawn with the parklands on the periphery of the building. This semi-open, semi-private space can be used in a many ways, whether for daily activities, or as an open-air plaza for large urban cultural events.
The original trees on the site are preserved as much as possible, informing the design of the landscape to form a new natural park. In the middle of the green forest are winding paths and passages through the enclosed buildings, where one can walk through the trees and see the riverfront view.
A cascading terrace, facing the central lawn in the interior of the building, acts in a dialogue with the white curved roof. The elements interlock and overlap into multiple semi-outdoor spaces, separated by minimalist floor-to-ceiling glass, blurring the interior and exterior.
Jiaxing Civic Center is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.