The Rebirth of Industrial Memory: Landscape Reconstruction of Zhengzhou Grinding Wheel Plant

The core of the old city of Zhengzhou is the home to the No. 2 Grinding Wheel Plant, one of Asia’s largest grinding wheel factories. It manufactured abrasive tools and grinding wheels for the Chinese market. With time and changes in urban development patterns and manufacturing needs, much of the factory became vacant. In recognition of the important historical significance of the building, The factory was designated a “National Historic Preservation Building”. 

Studying the factory’s historical context helped guide the preservation of historically critical industrial equipment while rationally applying modern design principles and methods. The framed landscape system used in the No.2 Grinding Wheel Plant will permit the reintegration of traditional urban culture with a new attitude that welcomes all of the public. The Old City of Zhengzhou now has a dual landmark to effective urban renewal and architectural history. A decrepit, industrial zone has been reborn as a quality public space. The new design has also had a positive influence on the relationship of the Old City with other communities in Zhengzhou.

The core of the old city of Zhengzhou is the home to the No. 2 Grinding Wheel Plant, one of Asia’s largest grinding wheel factories. It manufactured abrasive tools and grinding wheels for the Chinese market. With time and changes in urban development patterns and manufacturing needs, much of the factory became vacant. In recognition of the important historical significance of the building, The factory was designated a “National Historic Preservation Building”. 

Studying the factory’s historical context helped guide the preservation of historically critical industrial equipment while rationally applying modern design principles and methods. The framed landscape system used in the No.2 Grinding Wheel Plant will permit the reintegration of traditional urban culture with a new attitude that welcomes all of the public. The Old City of Zhengzhou now has a dual landmark to effective urban renewal and architectural history. A decrepit, industrial zone has been reborn as a quality public space. The new design has also had a positive influence on the relationship of the Old City with other communities in Zhengzhou.

Reconfiguring the factory began by looking back at the origins of the No. 2 Grinding Wheel Plant’s design and the influence of Bauhaus on that design. By dividing the site into three parts, the design recalls the basic geometric principles of Bauhaus. The site is divided into a front square, a back garden, and the Experience Garden. These three spaces are connected through streets, boulevards, and concrete pipe racks. The concept of “round sky and square earth” sorts out the texture of the site. The straight axis of the Main Square and the circular grinding wheels are interspersed at critical locations. The interconnections and the scattered grinding wheels create locations of different scales and functions. In turn, different types of public activities are supported and enhanced by the thoughtful placement of relics from the factory’s history.

The Grinding Wheel Park is a sports park and simultaneously a memorial to modernization efforts in China. The use of factory relics in a sports park unites the past with the spirit of modern China. Although these industrial relics have lost their production value, they now have been reborn with new uses that serve the public. The abandoned machines have been transformed into fun climbing structures, slides, and seats for adults.

The Experience Garden design is thoughtfully integrated into the existing site. In designing the garden, “Micro-renewal” was used to preserve the memory of the No.2 Grinding Wheel Plant by reusing elements of the old factory. Original trees, including cedars and sycamores, have been kept, but some of the original concrete blocks were smashed and recycled into the pavement. The former newsstand was turned into a nice rest space. Nearby abandoned green space was transformed into an amusement park. Neglected areas and abandoned factory equipment were transformed into landscape sculptures and green walls of plants.

The sun has set on the former industrial glory of the No. 2 Grinding Wheel Plant. Today, the No. 2 Grinding Wheel Plant has bid farewell to industrial glory and has become a public resource that unites the past and present. The redesign re-imagined the public realm and still respected the original industrial planning. The designers enhanced the factory’s spatial characteristics, historical culture, and ecological environment, and the old factory has been given a new mission for a modern era.

The No.2 Grinding Wheel Plant Factory Park has created a vibrant public space for urban residents in a new era. It is a community of urban activities that enhance the vitality of the entire city. The No. 2 Grinding Wheel Plant has become a standard-bearer of past urban memory, while it is helping to reshape the essence of China’s urban future. Two years after development, the project has become an anchor for the memories of Zhengzhou residents. The No.2 Grinding Wheel Plant has been reborn as a modern public space, new uses have been created, and the spirit of the No. 2 Grinding Wheel Plant is celebrated in the new design.

Project location: Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, China

Design year: 2020

Year Built: 2021

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