Woods Bagot convert abandoned sugar factory into chocolate-themed hotel, leisure and cultural district

At the heart of our strategy is a desire to inspire and engage the diverse people that will enjoy the site – from locals and former factory workers to tourists, families and children alike
– Charlie Chen, Woods Bagot’s urban design leader

Architects Woods Bagot are transforming an abandoned sugar factory in Zhuhai, China, into a cultural, tourism and leisure park that celebrates the city’s industrial heritage and welcomes visitors with a sweet tooth.

The Hongqi Zhen Sugar Factory was opened in the 1960s and became a key pillar of Southern China’s sugar plantation and processing industry. However, the industry eventually fell into a decline and the complex closed its doors in 2003.

Plans are now afoot to bring the site, situated in Jinwan District, back to life, with construction taking place in three phases over the next decade. Woods Bagot have completed a 78,800sq m (848,000sq ft) master plan that features a boutique chocolate-themed hotel, a chocolate factory, a wedding venue, a sugar industry museum, shops, bars and restaurants.

According to the practice, “different thematic zones will provide contrasting sensory experiences for visitors, from the energetic retail street and creative workshop spaces to the tranquil wedding lake and wetland boardwalk.”

As many as possible of the factory’s 40 tall structures will be retained and repurposed, with new, smaller buildings added to complement their industrial aesthetic. The existing red brick chimney towers will remain the main visual landmark at the highest point of the site.

Solar roofs, rainwater harvesting, geothermal heating and cooling and the promotion of low carbon transport options, including bikes and scenic water taxis, will be adopted to enhance the sustainability of the project.

A central park forms the core of the scheme and is set to feature a sculpture garden, a farming experience and wetlands adapted from existing ponds and former industrial water bodies.

“At the heart of our strategy is a desire to inspire and engage the diverse people that will enjoy the site – from locals and former factory workers to tourists, families and children alike,” said Woods Bagot’s urban design leader Charlie Chen.

“The result will be a showcase of old and new and provide Zhuhai with a rich cultural landmark for generations to come. It’s a privilege to create a place where a whole community can capture and celebrate their proud industrial history.”

Developers in China are finding innovative ways to repurpose the factories that powered the country’s industrial boom, but have since fallen into disrepair. Last year, hospitality group Alila opened a 117-bedroom “modern retro” resort within another converted sugar mill, in the city of Guilin.

Woods Bagot  Zhuhai  China  Hongqi Zhen Sugar Factory 
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Architects Woods Bagot are transforming an abandoned sugar factory in Zhuhai, China, into a cultural, tourism and leisure park that celebrates the city’s industrial heritage and welcomes visitors with a sweet tooth. The Hongqi Zhen Sugar Factory was opened in the 1960s and became a key pillar of Southern China’s sugar plantation and processing industry. However, the industry eventually fell into a decline and the complex closed its doors in
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Woods Bagot have completed a 78,800sq m (848,000sq ft) master plan that features a boutique chocolate-themed hotel, a chocolate factory, a wedding venue and a sugar industry museum / Woods Bagot
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