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CLOU Architects’ Sanya Farm Lab is not your average exhibition space

Sanya Farm Lab, designed by CLOU Architects, is an indoor-outdoor exhibition space, connected by a visually striking wooden grid.

CLOU Architects’ Sanya Farm Lab is not your average exhibition space

Heralded as a landmark of its district, Sanya Farm Lab, also known as Sanya Nanshan Co-Life Pavilion, is a sizable greenhouse-like exhibition space, framed by gridded pale wood and honed for its tropical environment.

The exhibition space is located in Sanya, the southernmost city on Hainan Island in Nanfan High Tech District, China.

Designed by CLOU Architects, the brief was to combine the region’s tropical climate features with the scientific and agri-tech elements of the area to create a research and commercial exhibition centre.

Sanya Farm Lab by CLOU Architects
The third level of Sanya Farm Lab, looking towards the white spiral staircase and a few cacti.

Sprawling 4000 square metres over four storeys, the gridded wooden structure creates a facade that incorporates both interior and exposed sections of the building.

Inside the grid, three glass boxes are stacked making up the interior structure. The cantilevered second floor creates a semi-sheltered space below, and an outdoor platform for dining and children’s playground on the third floor.

Sanya Farm Lab by CLOU Architects
An external corner of the gridded exterior, with the white spiral staircase in the background.

A spiral staircase leads up through a large void in the exposed outdoor section of the building, visually connecting each level of the interior spaces.

Tethering the intricate network of indoor and outdoor spaces is a simple transparent roof with a semi-transparent grid ornamentation. The grid is inspired by the homes of the Li, an ethnic minority group from the island the building resides on, therefore becoming a modern rendition of the vernacular history and architecture.

stairs at Sanya Farm Lab by CLOU Architects
A view looking up the spiral staircase in Sanya Farm Lab.

The roof is 800mm deep, reducing sunlight absorption by 70 percent and creating subdued interior light and shadows.

The purpose of the pavilion is manifold. Acting as both an agricultural research hub and retail space, the space showcases agricultural innovations, such as robotisation and progress in indoor vertical farming, “farm-to-table” restaurants and offices for researchers.

exhibition space by CLOU Architects
The gridded wooden exterior roof of Sanya Farm Lab.

Because of their integration into the hub, the space facilitates interactions between researchers and visitors, maximising educational opportunities.

The building has struck a chord with international design enthusiasts, having won the public choice in Dezeen’s business building of the year category. It has also been awarded Innovative Architecture 2020 by ICONIC Awards, and Excellent Architecture Special Mention in 2021 by German Design Awards.

Sanya Farm Lab was designed by CLOU Architects, with principal Jan Clostermann at the helm of the project. CLOU is an international design studio that has a portfolio of projects based around community and social spaces.

Related: Compositions Of Light And Colour: Farm Designs Exhibitions For The National Gallery Singapore

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