“SHIZIKOU” Relics Environmental Conservation and Extension

Lacime Architects

The project emerges from the ruins of “SHIZIKOU (Lion Mouth)” Prison — once one of the three major prisons in the republic of China — preserving the original ambiance of Suzhou Ancient City. What remains today from the structure, is an office building and a section of the prison wall, that over the years, gradually peels its paint, leaving the grey-brick wall exposed.

The architects added new functions — reception, working area, garden and gallery(transformed from the relic building)— to keep the site alive, without ruining the historic value of the original building. Their aim was to transform and extend the former office building into a history and culture exhibition hall, serving as an attractive destination. The architects kept a century-old cypress near the old building as the axis of the new construction. Together they form a continuous spaces that establishes an effective dialogue with the surrounding environment, making up a centripetal inner yard that opens a ‘window’ to the city. The exhibition hall extension serves to link the office building, cypress, and the external space. The new-old visual impact is weakened so that a new entirety emerges. The roof of the extension building begins to grow from the direction of the office building’s ridgeline. Architects tried to make the typical image of the city abstract and convey hereditary form and space through different materials and forms. The new structure’s façade borrows the office building’s original façade form, and it is applied to the extension by a typological method.