OPEN Architecture was invited to participate in a competition to design a zeppelin hangar situated in the serene landscape of Ma’an Mountain of Anhui Province, China. The challenge is to design a single structure with a clearance of 100 meter wide by 300 meter long and 100 meter in height to house the production and storage of the zeppelin. The structure also demands a single door with a clear opening of 100 meter by 100 meter to let the zeppelin go in and out. Heavy duty cranes are to be hung off the ceiling of the structure, adding substantial loads to this super structure.
OPEN Architecture collaborated with structure engineer CABR to develop a prefabricated concrete frame and panel system, an innovative and fully integrated structural skin that carries vertical loads of structure, roof installations and ceiling crane while opposing lateral forces with highly optimized shape that minimizes material while expressing the combined efficiency of structure, economy and form. Flexible and highly efficient structural framework minimizes maintenance and construction costs while permitting a highly differentiated and modular system of cuts and openings that modulate natural light, facilitate ventilation and rain water management, as well as generate sufficient energy to realize a zero maintenance green roof.
The structure arises from layers of earth that are thrust upward by a geological process of uplift exposing a spatial pocket in the earth for airship operations. The manifested “natural” landform seamlessly integrates with site both visually and systemically as a member of a self-sustaining networked ecology of tree-covered mountains and landscapes. The uplift landform acts not only as a structure to house the zeppelin; it is also an inhabitable landscape. Hiking trails, extreme vertical sports surface and viewing outposts clad the surface of the landform in providing leisure attraction to the surrounding area.