Renovation of a Hoffmann oven / Studio HCCH
Text description provided by the architects. Pudong Hoffman brick kiln (called “Pudong red kiln”) is located in Laogang town, Nanhui, Pudong. It’s a typical Hoffman oven. Patented by the German Friedrich Hoffmann in 1858, the oven has a circular passage surrounded by small parts. It has been widely used around the world due to its efficient use of heat and fuel. He began to appear on the landscape of Shanghai At the beginning of the 20th Century. The site’s red oven had long since lost its original function. The roof and walls were collapsed and damaged, buried by soil and overgrown with weeds. The site sits on the edge of an underused golf course bounded by a canal that runs from the center of town to the East China Sea. As the site will be transformed into a suburban leisure park in the future, the red oven will also be transformed from production ruins into a public place.
Hoffmann ovens were so common in the last century, but few have survived. It is also difficult to use the space while maintaining its original atmosphere. The renovation not only tries to retain its classic layout, materials and scale, but also amplifies the feel and spatial charm of the place. The cleaning, reinforcement and design works of the site of this project are carried out simultaneously. Although the old damaged brick vaults have been informally reinforced with steel structures, the typology of the space remains.
Inside the brick kiln, the circular tunnel, passage and openings all repeat the pattern of an arch. To walk there is to find oneself in the industrial universe of the era of the brickworks of the 19th century.
During the design process, we found that the flue closed in the middle can be opened in the outer ring. The connections between the two were originally used for smoke evacuation. They turn into door openings. This operation adds a shortened multipath to the original circular traffic. The duct in the middle is narrow and closed, with no natural light. We replace the concrete floor above with glass and add roof skylights to form a skylight, which illuminates both the flue and the annular passage. Standing under the skylight, visitors can contemplate the imposing chimney, symbol of the whole site.
Daylight floods the dark ring through the arches, as does the porch around the patio or atrium. The arches on the other side of the ring are the climatic borders, creating private pockets looking at the landscape.
The chimney of the brick kiln and its cavity are important elements in the treatment of air during the combustion process. The cavity now houses the MEP, which continues the logic of the brick production system. The original ventilation holes scattered on the ceiling are reserved for lighting and spraying, and the lower exhaust holes are used as air conditioning outlets.
The second floor of the building is a multi-purpose hall. The facade is kept transparent, with verandas on the first and second floors as escape and viewing platforms. The arches of the east facade resonate with the arched motif of the interior space. An old brick staircase to the east is retained and an escape staircase is added. To the west, the original passage near the chimney is used for the evacuation, in order to preserve as much as possible the original spatial relationship of the oven. Shanghai is one of the cities that opened a port the earliest in the 19th century. The introduction of the Hoffman kiln exemplified the industrialization of its suburban economy. The red oven renovation not only uses abandoned industrial forms as relics to display, but transforms the process space into a setting to underpin the possibility of a contemporary lifestyle. In addition to spatial value, the old kiln begins to generate greater social value.