The Building On the Water

The Building On the Water of the Shihlien Chemical plant in Huai’An City is the first work unveiled in China by Álvaro Siza: a building that blends seamlessly with the most important element in the manufacturing process of glass, water.

The Building On the Water
Located in the New Salt Industrial Park of Huai’An City, Jiangsu Province, Shihlien Chemical Industrial Jiangsu Co. is one of the world’s largest combined soda ash and ammonium chloride production plants.
The concept was to create a building that would blend seamlessly with the most important element in the manufacturing process of glass, water, at the same time establishing an architectural profile for the plant.
The Building On the Water
Álvaro Siza & Carlos Castanheira, The Building On the Water, Huai’An City, Jiangsu Province, China
Over-water construction was an entirely new venture for Álvaro Siza. The Building On the Water took four years to design and construct. Meticulously built in white exposed concrete, the building’s pristine curvilinear form measures over 300 meters in length, comprising two levels above water and a total built floor area of approximately 11,000 square meters.
As if evoking a life-like dragon, elegantly poised over water, the contours of this building gently undulates. Contorting itself, the form escapes from convention, an autonomous entity contrasting with the orthogonal shapes of the factory complex. Crisscrossing the curving geometries, bridges interconnect spaces, levels and volumes. The design takes full advantage of its poetic setting and natural light.

In constant interplay with the environment – whether it is the changing hues and reflections of the water, or varying tones of light and shadow, the building manifests a multitude of changing complexions.

Whether viewed from land, water or air, the elegant building conveys a quiet beauty achieved when the concrete and substantial comes in contact with the fluid and ethereal.


Building On the Water, Huai’An City, Jiangsu Province, China
Program : offices
Architects : Álvaro Siza & Carlos Castanheira
Creative integration consultant : Xue Xue Institute, Xue Xue Foundation
Project management & construction supervision : Stephen Wang & Richard Wang
Local partner : United Architects & Engineers Co., Ltd
Client : Por-Shih Lin, Chairman, Shihlien Chemical Industrial Jiangsu Co., Ltd
Area : 11,000 sqm
Completion : August 2014

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