Nanjing Dajiaochang Airport Observation Tower Renovation

Competition to Renovate Historical Buildings , Nanjing
Collaboration With: Wenzhi Zhen, Pengju Hou
Summer 2021



Architecture is a living history of cities. Embodying the memory of cities, a historical building can record their vicissitudes, manifest their demeanor, and carry on their culture. Therefore, promoting the protection and utilization of historical buildings, properly handling their relationship with urban development, and preserving the legacy have become an important task in the modernization drive. Themed “Literature Glows, Architecture Reflects”, this competition aims at Designing for the “City of Literature ”– Nanjing.


The renovated historical buildings should serve such functions as: ①a urban reading space; ②a literary work exhibition space; ③a literary exchange and education space; ④a literary composition and creativity space; ⑤a literary experience space, etc. Participants can either choose one of the functions above or combine multiple functions according to the scale and spatial characteristics of the target historical building, and set up auxiliary spaces, where appropriate, while enabling literary activities as a priority.

On the one hand, the activation and utilization of historical buildings must comply with relevant regulations; the major parts and areas as highlighted in the preservation project guidebook should be repaired and reserved in accordance with the principles of “authenticity, minimal intervention, recognizability, reversibility, and utilization outweighing protection”, giving full play to cultural and historical significance embodied in the building. On the other hand, it is necessary to pursue an integral unity between protection and utilization by innovatively and proactively exploring various approaches to the theme of “Designing for the City of Literature”.



The concept of Huanshe bookstore comes from the form of the watch tower
itself. We are not adding new form language but extract from the existing

The building is the history of the city. We proposed the original spatial
division and structure of the Daxiao Airport Observatory Tower to the
underground level. We make the underground bookstore and exhibition
space a strip space around the historic building. On the north side of the
historic building, we designed a circular landscape ramp connecting the
top floor of the tower and the ground floor, which provides an extension
of the original building, not only creating a vertical traffic connection
but also providing a larger enclosed space for the tower.

We put the Huan She Bookstore (literature experience space) and supporting
exhibition space on the ground floor. The coffee shop (literature exchange
space) is on the ground floor and the city park is on the roof floor. The circular landscape ramp (urban reading space) connects to the roof garden. The new building preserves the original elevation of the historic building, while activating the vitality of the new urban space.

The material of the new building is concrete and wood, which contrasts sharply with the white plastered walls of the old building. The historic building seems to be suspended above the new building.