Home to one of the largest underground salt mines in China, Huian City has been known as a fast track industrial zone. The Laboratory for Shihlien Biotech Salt Plant was designed by WZWX Architecture Group, instilling a strong sense of clinical austerity for the inner area, all the while delivering a sculptural quality to the outer shell.
The laboratory serves the demand for necessary quality control and testing procedures—sporting ample and generous rooms. White walls and concrete play off each other for a crisp and archetypal lab feel. Interestingly, the architects chose to promote wood in select rooms to add some warmth, a welcome variety in what could have been a routine project for a test centre.
Water is the main element to play off against the dynamic nature of the building, as curves and absolute rectangular shapes alternate to create the rhythmic program of the laboratory. The water mirror surrounds all sides, imbuing lightness during the day and amplitude at night with a spirited reflection. Fluid curvatures bring an interesting element to the table, as the entrance gives a gentle leeway into the second half of the building composed mainly of square-like rooms.
Purity is an essential focus of the salt production process and a consistent driving concept for the architectural and interior design. The plan organisation is conceived as a regular array of NaCl salt crystals. A series of offset cubic protrusions—white-washed walls with full-height glazing—accommodates each of the key functions.
Laboratories and minimalism is an expected combination, nevertheless the project in hand goes beyond offering a mix of dynamic visual cues and timeless archetypes for a technoscientific locale.