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Tower of Bricks

Matt Dougherty • Photography by Zhi Geng •
June 19, 2019

Built on an abandoned Hoffman brick kiln in Hengshui, China, the Tower of Bricks is a new botanical art center found outside the city near the wetland park. Showcasing plants, pottery, and floral art, the structure is centered around the looped and vaulted space that surrounds the courtyards. Shanghai firm Interval Architects explored the dichotomy between landscape and architecture to make the space “more public and open,” says principal architect and cofounder Oscar Ko. That was achieved by opening the roof terrace and turning the chimney of the old building into the observatory tower. According to Ko, cladding the tower with solid bricks instead of brick veneers was a major challenge. An extended slab was used as a base and reinforcement bars were placed in the mortars and tied back to the columns, pulling the bricks together as a singular façade. The simple, minimalist form “has generated a kind of abstraction, rationality, and [poetry], which I believe is the core aesthetic of the project,” Ko explains.