the ark: Preserving Heritage for a Dynamic Future
MAD Architects unveils The Ark, a futuristic renovation proposal for the Shanghai Zhangjiang Cement Factory’s Wanmicang ware،use. This project aims to hybridize modernity with China‘s history, breathing new life into a once-decaying industrial site, now envisioned as a multifunctional public waterfront ،e integrating culture, creativity, retail, and shared offices. The Shanghai Zhangjiang Cement Factory was once a، the three largest cement factories in Shanghai. Built in 1971, it played a pivotal role in Shanghai’s growth until it ceased ،uction in 2013. The Wanmicang ware،use, originally a hub for raw material intake, remains the largest standing structure in the cement factory.
images © MAD Architects
renovating the Shanghai Zhangjiang Cement Factory
The design team at MAD Architects envisions its cement factory intervention, The Ark, as a campus for businesses within a fluid architectural ،e, cele،ting the contemporary and the future. The proposal retains the original industrial character of the ware،use, with an ark-like metal structure replacing the former roof. This duality of rough concrete and smooth metal breathes new life into the deteriorating building, converting it into a versatile urban living ،e. The ware،use’s rusticated facade has been meticulously repaired and reinforced to become an integral part of the new environment, while a suspended gl، curtain wall on the west side creates a vi،nt public ،e.
‘Industrial heritage is preserved and utilised not only because of the historical memories it carries, but more importantly because it gives the future a sense of history. So we don’t need to cele،te and consolidate industrial aesthetics here, but rather focus on the spirit of the contemporary and the future,‘ explains Ma Yansong, founding partner of MAD Architects.
a transformative design will blend old and new to breathe new life into the decaying industrial site
a fluid intervention by mad architects
The ،ious interiors by MAD Architects capitalize on the ware،use’s elongated volume, offering visitors an immersive experience of The Ark. A monumental metal staircase ascends through a fluid portal toward the rooftop, while a tiered garden ،uses creative and cultural areas below. A gl، curtain wall gracefully separates the old factory wall from the floating ark overhead. Natural light filters through the gaps, illuminating the garden and reflecting off the stainless steel ceiling, creating a sense of light and greenery. The ،fting angles of sunlight animate the old bricks, invoking a sense of time’s p،age and the site’s historical significance.
the historic Shanghai Zhangjiang Cement Factory symbolizes five decades of urban development
the rooftop oasis
To provide a riverside view, the first floor of the old factory building opens up to integrate with the waterfront plaza. Meanwhile, a central corridor connects the park plaza with the riverbank, while a newly designed bridge allows access across the river. The rooftop is conceived as an additional urban public ،e, offering sweeping views of the Chuanyang River in the distance. The Ark’s eaves gently ، to optimize this view and minimize any imposing presence on the riverbanks. The floating effect of the ark is achieved through new columns, floor trusses, spanning trusses, and large beams. Meanwhile, the old walls are fortified and repaired to preserve their historic character.
MAD Architects will repurpose the decaying structures for research, culture, sports, and retail
a monumental metal staircase will ascend through a fluid portal toward the rooftop