Nestled at the base of Red Mountain, the Red Box stands as a striking exhibition center in Nanjing. Its red-concrete facade is cleverly interrupted by angular cut-outs and charming courtyards, adding a touch of architectural intrigue. Inspired by the vibrant hues of the surrounding brick buildings and the iron oxide-rich soil, this monolithic structure, crafted by Mix Architecture, pays homage to its local context while making a bold statement.
The main entrance of Red Box is a unique angled cut-out, illuminated by a circular skylight on the roof. The entrance is adorned with a beautifully patterned wooden door, creating a striking first impression. The exterior of the building, made of red board-marked concrete, seamlessly transitions into the interior, giving the impression that the entire structure has been carved from a single stone.
The red woodgrain concrete facade of the building pays homage to the historical industrial buildings in the area, matching their scale and color of red bricks. According to Ziye Wu, the co-founder of the studio, the transition from the exterior to the interior creates a sense of entering another world, as if stepping into a red stone sanctuary.
Inside Red Box, the ground floor is dimly lit and features an exhibition hall and a lobby. Surrounding these spaces are a reception center, service room, bathrooms, and storage areas. Openings around the exhibition hall lead to a water feature and courtyard, which can be accessed via a path of red pavers.
The studio has also designed the back of the building to embrace nature. A courtyard and large glass panels facing the mountain allow natural light and scenic views to enter the building. Additionally, a second courtyard on the ground floor is enclosed by a curved concrete wall and opens up to the sky, bringing even more light into the adjacent reception area.
Moving to the upper level of Red Box, two rooms provide additional exhibition space. These rooms are connected by an external terrace with timber decking, offering a pleasant outdoor area for visitors to enjoy. The facade of this level features brick-sized perforations, allowing sunlight to filter into the interior during the day and creating a beautiful illuminated effect on the exterior at night.
Throughout the center, black steel is used for columns, window frames, and gallery-style light fixtures, as well as the main staircase. This adds a touch of modernity and elegance to the overall design.