Located in the Southeastern part of Guizhou Province, the Shui Cultural Center is a gateway to Sandu County, the land of the Shui. The Shui are one of the ethnic minority groups in China, most of whom live in Guizhou – where West-Line Studio works exclusively – which is why the office pays special attention to researching minority cultures and traditions in order to bring some of their particular elements into the design. Despite being few in number, the Shui people have still retained their own language, together with their unique system of pictographs. They have around 400 characters used mostly during ceremonies and sacrifices. The iconic shape of the cultural center pays homage to the Shui language, following the shape of the character for ‘mountain’. The facade pattern is also inspired by Shui’s traditional characters, starting again from the basic triangular shape of the mountain, which is repeated to evoke the character for ‘rain’.
▼建筑造型遵循了水族的“山”字形状，the iconic form of the cultural center follows the shape of the character for ‘mountain’ in the Shui language
场地用地面积为13800平方米，紧邻河流的一个弯道造，三面环水。在西侧，水景广场把参观者引到入口。“水族”中的“水”就是字面意思，这就是为什么水这个元素与场地和项目都密切相关。北面的水景是鱼龙塔，塔顶有铜鼓。铜鼓是水族文化中一种典型的仪式元素。青铜也用于水族祭坛上，受此启发，建筑师使用穿孔青铜钢板来造顶。这种模式使得板材更轻 – 与重型混凝土结构形成鲜明对比 – 透过阳光，一旦进入室内就会创造出一种戏剧效果。混凝土在松木模板内浇注，十分结实。松木是三都地区最常见的材料之一，并且在这里，当代的混凝土结构与当地的传统木结构相呼应。
The site, which covers an area of 13,800 square meters, was created by a bend in the river, so it is surrounded by water on three sides. On the other, the West side, a water square welcomes the visitors guiding them to the entrance. Shui means water, which is why this element is so relevant for both the site and project. North of the water landscape is the Yulong tower, with a bronze drum on the top. The drum, cast in bronze, is a typical ritualistic element in Shui culture. Bronze can also be found in their altars, which inspired the architects to use perforated bronze steel plates to cover the building. The pattern makes the plates lighter – a thin skin which creates a contrast with the heavy concrete structure – breaking the sunlight to create a dramatic effect once inside. The concrete is marked strongly by a wooden pattern, given by the pine quarterdecks. Pinewood is one of the most common materials in the Sandu area and the contemporary concrete structure echoes the local traditional wooden architecture.
▼北面的鱼龙塔顶装有铜鼓，the Yulong tower with a bronze drum on the top
▼屋顶使用穿孔青铜钢作为材料，the perforated bronze steel plates were used to cover the building
▼混凝土在松木模板内浇注，the concrete is marked strongly by a wooden pattern
The building itself consists of three main stripes, which combine all the functions of the tourist-cultural center. The first is the ritual hall, which with its sharp edges, strong colors and narrow space aims to create a strong first impression on visitors, who are clearly stepping into a different dimension. The second stripe still keeps the sharp roof but welcomes visitors with less dramatic tones and serves as reception hall. In the third stripe, which has two floors, at the ground level we lose the pitch roof to find a more conventional space that includes all the main functions: visitor and service center, cafeteria, toilets, business center and an upstairs office area.
▼色彩浓郁的文化礼仪殿带来强烈的第一印象，the ritual hall with strong colors aims to create a strong first impression on visitors
▼厅内坡道，the ramp in the hall
▼第三个区域包含两层，the third stripe consists of two levels
▼首层空间容纳了所有主要的功能，the ground level includes all the main functions
With its iconic and distinct shape, the Shui Cultural Center stands as a new contemporary landmark which pays homage to the local culture and traditional architecture. The Shui culture is evoked using particular materials and shapes but also in recreating a holy space, able to submerge the visitor who is guided into a magic journey through the Shui’s ancestral world.
▼窗格细部，detail of the windows
▼材料细部，detail of the material
▼立面图和剖面图，elevation and section