River Heights Pavilion

The River Heights Pavilion is situated on the outskirts of Taiyuan along the edge of its famous Fen River. As the capital of Shanxi province, Taiyuan is an example of a second tier Chinese city developing at break neck speed. The River Heights Pavilion is built on a typical blank slate site, yet counters the trend of low density housing developments. It is an urban project located in the middle of suburbia.

Within this empty context, the urban environment is most effectively rendered within the building’s interior, as spaces are organized to afford unique relationships between various activities. For example, imagine standing in the lobby watching a performance, beyond which is a lounging couple in the courtyard, while above, office workers leave their desks to join a party in the adjoining roof deck.

The design of the River Heights Pavilion consists of linear blocks of varying lengths that are replicated and arranged to fit the boundaries of the site. Each block houses a unique programmatic element, such as exhibition, lounge, and office. In form, the blocks alternate between single and double story heights, while interiors alternate between cool and warm materials and finishes.

This organization provides two completely different spatial experiences. Looking down the length of an individual block, one views the depth of a unified space extending uninterrupted to the exterior landscape. In contrast, turning 90 degrees, one’s view penetrates diagonally through discrete layers of shallow spaces that reveal various activities juxtaposed horizontally and vertically. Furthermore, there is a stacking of views through the interior, exterior, and interior and exterior again.

The landscape design is an undulating extension of these linear blocks, each grassy strip separated by corten steel.