The competition called for the hangar to be a “single structure with a clearance of 100 meters wide by 300 meters long and 100 meters in height to house the production and storage of a zeppelin.” The requirements also demanded that there be a single door with an opening of 100 meters by 100 meters and the ceiling had to support a crane with which to do work and maintenance. After meeting specific requirements regarding the size of the hangar, OPEN Architecture let their ideas flow freely about what else the structure could be beyond a simple and functional storage space.
Inspiration for the structure came from the geological process of uplift, whereby the earth is thrust upwards. In this case, the earth is lifted up like a blanket to create a pocket large enough to store a zeppelin in and the exterior is covered in a living roof. Working with structural engineer CABR (China Academy of Building Research), OPEN Architecture designed a prefabricated concrete frame and panel system that could carry the load requirements inside as well as a green-roofed exterior. Perforated with skylights, the roof lets in natural light into the hangar, facilitates natural ventilation and aids in the collection of rainwater, which is stored underground in a cistern.
Renewable energy generation systems like photovoltaic panels and micro wind turbines are also located on the top of the structure to generate power for the hangar. But to top if off, the green roof is more than just a pretty facade, it’s also totally usable. Hiking trails will be cut around the facility and up onto the facade so visitors can climb around on the roof. Nature walks, rest platforms, picnic areas and even camping sites will be incorporated. Those into extreme sports, like rock climbing and bungie jumping will also find something to do on the hangar’s roof, where a climbing wall and other equipment will be built in. The goal then of OPEN Architecture’s design is not just to create a practical and functional hangar, but a destination that many people will want to visit and enjoy.