Activity center

Former factory buildings turned into youth activity center in China

Ramps, slides and colorful mesh platforms feature at this youth center near Beijing, which Rede Architects and Moguang Studio built in an abandoned garment factory.


The industrial site of Beizhuang City, Miyun District, included a dozen disused buildings arranged around two courtyards and surrounded by factories and mountains.

Above: The Youth Activity Center occupies a former clothing factory. Above: It features a combination of brick and steel buildings

Rede Architects and Moguang Studio have preserved and reused the existing structures as the classrooms, restaurant, conference room and hostel of the Youth Activity Center.

A workshop building with a single-span beam roof was transformed into a children’s center and a multipurpose hall.

A red steel walkway in a yard
A raised steel walkway winds through another courtyard

In the north courtyard is a raised steel platform accessed by a pair of curved ramps that form a circular shape when viewed from above.

Ramps lead from a central lawn and playground to the restaurant’s rooftop terrace. The steel trellis platform shades the spaces below and a metal slide allows you to quickly descend to the lawn.

A courtyard of the Youth Activity Center in China
Red steel mesh provides shaded areas

A second courtyard to the south of the site contains a landscaped garden made up of circular paved spaces interspersed with patches of vegetation.

The local perennials used in the garden are left to grow naturally to recall the previously wild and overgrown space. The yard also contains a circular trampoline.

An elevated walkway in a youth center in China
Ramps run across a large lawn

Between the north and south courtyards, the architects introduced a water feature and a connecting passage closed by the same red metal mesh.

The activity center is located in the main building of the brick and reinforced concrete factory.

The glass entrance to the Youth Activity Center
A hall with curved glass marks an entrance area

A single-story structure adjoining the north facade of this building was removed and replaced with a series of metal umbrella-shaped canopies to create an entrance.

The hall has seven semicircular glass volumes that intersect and separate the entrance from the main activity center of a café and a concept store.

A yellow steel staircase
New steel mesh details are painted in bright yellow

The Youth Activity Center contains learning spaces in the original seven-meter-high space. The addition of a mezzanine level makes it possible to separate the active and silent functions on different floors.

The new interventions are painted in a vibrant yellow hue and the mesh lends a visual lightness to these structures. Ramps, slides and climbing nets make the space navigation experience enjoyable for children.

The eastern edge of the factory building is separated into large rooms for public use.

Factory buildings converted to brick
Circular paved areas in a yard

In one area, the roof was removed to create an open-air courtyard spanned by the original trusses. This courtyard alters the scale of the spaces on either side, creating a more compact and better-proportioned room for the restaurant.

The buildings in the southern part of the site are brick with wooden beam roofs. These structures originally contained dormitories and a canteen, but now function as guest rooms.

Admission to the youth activity center
The original faded green walls have been preserved

The structural columns and steel components of an abandoned carport have been preserved and turned into a porch leading to the entrance to The Youth Activity Center.

An abandoned canteen is now a reception hall, which has original features including walls painted in faded green and a precast concrete roof.

An industrial-look canteen by REDe Architects and Moguang Studio
The canteen celebrates the original details of the building

New interventions in the canteen include stainless steel units containing the toilets, as well as exposed concrete counters and stainless steel benches.

Inside the hostel’s rooms, the brick walls echo the scales and textures of the existing buildings on the site.

The walls of the outer courtyard and the paving between the dwellings use recycled bricks from demolished villages in the surrounding area. These bricks form low walls surrounded by plants to mark the transition between public and private spaces.

A hostel interior in the youth activity center
The beds are made of wood

Other architect-designed youth centers include a building by Spanish studio B720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos that uses wood and bright colors to create a warm environment, and EFFEKT’s transformation of an abandoned windmill factory in Viborg.

The photograph is by Xi Zhi, Zhu Yumeng, Li Jiaying.


Project credits:

Architects: Rede Architects and Moguang Studio
Principal architects: Jin Lei of REDe Architects, Li Jiaying and Feng Xin of Moguang Studio
Project architects: Li Jiaying, Feng Xin
Landscaping: Li Jiaying, Xu Wenkai
Interior decoration of the hostel: Song Wentao, Huang Xinwei


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