Yuntai Ice Chrysanthemum Display shelves by luo studio

as industries in china take the lead in rural revitalization, quality agricultural products and better ways of displaying them become crucial. this is especially true for the yuntai ice chrysanthemum industrial park in the houyanem village, which now features spellbinding and wood-woven display shelves to exhibit its star product: ice chrysanthemum. designed by LUO studio, the installation features an array of bent and curved thin wooden panels that connect in a complex weaving pattern, inwards and outwards. holding those panels together is a structure of portal steel frames that were quickly set up in the assigned warehouse. 

 

the industrial park’s current selling channels mainly include tour groups, franchisees, and live streaming marketing. however, with the outbreak of covid-19, local ice chrysanthemum sales have plummeted. even more, plantation zones dedicated to this plant species suffered a severe decline in production due to floods that incapacitated the village. taking every aspect into account, LUO studio tried to create a practical display setting at a minimum cost. to this end, affordable and conveniently available materials and simple techniques easily accessible to local villagers were applied.

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all images © jin weiqi

steel frames and curved timber panels as furnishings

working side by side with engineers and construction experts, the team at luo studio made each wooden panel bend and arch at a specific angle to create tension points. by doing so, the display gains structural stability. ‘the ‘arched’ units anchor each other, with the bottom ends reaching the display stands. therefore, the physical structure of these elements is also a form of force transmission,’ explain the designers. through careful evaluation on the sectional scale, three sets of exhibition shelves were ultimately built underneath the steel frames, with four passages arranged to make sure that in no event will the place be overcrowded.

 

before completing the design drawings, the project team performed continuous bending tests on single thin timber panels to obtain relevant technical parameters regarding curvature. however, during construction, there were notable deviations between the design and actual execution due to many superimpositions, varied curvature, and uneven scab distribution. to proceed more effectively and ensure maximum use of everyday materials, LUO studio decided to use the drawings as mere references for the overall shape. meanwhile, workers had to carry out repeated on-site tests to obtain a final and ideal curvature for each section; this curvature was then incorporated into the design drawings. 

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between industrialization and the art of handmade  

the existing industrial warehouse where the yuntai ice chrysanthemum display sits exudes robust mechanical features — contrasting the natural, green, and soft qualities that agricultural products intend to convey. as such, the thin wooden panels were designed in a way to simulate rural hand-weaving craft. ‘the ‘wood-woven’ display shelves reveal a handmade feeling and a diversity differentiated from industrial manufacturing, and convey the warmth of each piece of ice chrysanthemum, which is picked, sorted, dried and baked by villagers manually,’ shares the team. 

 

in the end, through conceiving the exhibition space, the architects intended to work out a type of rural-industrial display that features low budget, common green building materials and construction techniques mastered by villagers — therefore evoking nature, ecology, and the vernacular. ‘this project is a new beginning of aesthetic creation for industry-supporting buildings in the houyanmen village,’ concludes LUO studio. 

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