The facade of this gallery space in the Xuhui town of China was created by being used a robotic masonry fabrication technique, designed and implemented by Archi-Union Architects, a Shanghai-based architectural design firm founded in 2003 by Dr. Philip F. Yuan (Professor, CAUP, Tongji University).

Called Chi She, an artistic group founded by Zhang Peili, Geng Jiangyi, whose exhibition space in West Bund Art Exhibition Area characterizes an altitude towards realism, the studio retained the initial exterior walls, followed by the elementary performance enhancement and structure reinforcement, in order to provide a maximum exhibition space. 

Under the condition of maintaining the space perception of the whole artistic park, part of the roof has been elevated in order to create an interlayer space, where people could enjoy the intact sky view. 

Furthermore, the roof structure has been replaced by a lightweight and more efficient tensioning string wood structure, and part of them is lifted to obtain the skylight indicating the climate change, which presents a sense of harmony. On the other hand, the grey green bricks coordinated with this ancient building have been applied on the exterior part located on the main interface towards the park. 

When the wall in the entrance is curled up a lit bit, this generated wrinkle wall texture becomes the impressive part of the form manipulation, which represents the architectural expressions as well, that is, a status that embodies current cultural trends based on tradition.

In order to complete such a masonry process that cannot be precisely achieved by traditional technology, Archi-Union Architects applied the robotic masonry fabrication technique by Fab-Union, which accomplishes the first endeavor to utilize the advanced digital fabrication technology to construct on site. 

The external walls of Chi She were built by the recycled grey green bricks from the old building and constructed with the help of the advanced technology of mechanical arm, which generates a cambered surface morphology, showing the vitality of Chi She.

The precise positioning of the integrated equipment of robotic masonry fabrication technique and the construction elaborately to the mortar and bricks by the craftsmen makes this ancient material, brick, be able to meet the requirements in the new era, and realizes the presentation of the design model consummately. 

The dilapidation of these old bricks coordinated with the stretch display of the curving walls are narrating a connection between people and bricks, machines and construction, design and culture, which will be spread permanently in the shadow of external walls under the setting sun.

Site plan

Ground floor plan

2nd floor plan




Roof plan

All images © Su Shengliang

All drawings © Archi-Union Architects

> via Archi-Union Architects