What began as a venue of the 5th Shenzhen Biennale, has already become a true Value Factory for the city that never sleeps. On its official closing day, a little less than three months in operation, more than 150.000 visitors came to explore this remarkable place, and/or attended hundreds of events by dozens of enthusiastic program partners that joined this project in the art of making Chinese cities in a new way. Today was announced that the Value Factory will remain open in the future and will continue to serve as a source of future urban development in Shenzhen.

Here are the creative strategies that made the difference…


1 busy day

2 overview entire complex

From economic to culture zone

30 years ago, Yuan Geng got a chance to set up a social-economic experiment, establishing in Shekou the first industry park in China and pursuing social and political reforms. The Guangdong glass factory in particular belongs to this earliest moment in Chinese modernity. Therefore, this is an important place of history.

Now, once again, Shekou can become a laboratory for future change in Pearl River Delta and China. And this time it is not an industry as China knows it, but creativity, as the main driver for change and delight. Welcome to Shenzhen’s Special Culture Zone.

hill top text

4-1 Finnish pavilion 1

4-2 Finnish pavilion 2

From background to foreground

If it comes to biennales and other festivals, very often venues are there to provide a background for the program people come for. It is the facility. This time the container has become content it self. To cherish existing qualities, to provide a wonderful architecture tour, to re-set and re-charge an almost timeless construction, can be seen as a key component of the show.

5 spiral stair silo

6 manifesto hall

Doing almost nothing

To put a building at the forefront does not mean that the entire repertoire of architecture needs to be deployed. On the contrary, when you find so many existing qualities, one shouldn’t do much to capitalize on it. What you will explore is a piece of industrial heritage at its best. Its timeless qualities are kept in their glorious presence. A low budget could nicely coincide with an ambition to celebrate what is already good.


doing almost nothing

Value Factory match making

Doing almost nothing as an individual designer can very easily be seen as a sign of laziness or aesthetical minimalism. Therefore, we did ‘almost nothing’ together, with a group of about fifteen young international architects (Zetao Chen, Anssi Lassila, Pedro Rivera, Lua Nitsche, Jianxiang He, Ying Jiang, Doreen Liu, Milena Zaklanovic, Marc Maurer, Teemu Hirvilammi, Shantanu Poredi, Maarten van Tuijl, Thomas Odorico, John van de Water, Aleksandar Joksimovic, Michael Patte), who were able to dissolve their desire to leave their personal mark and merged their skills in a collective creativity of all sorts. The design has been rewarded with the UABB Organising Committee award.

9 team work

Value Factory program partners

Once the glass factory had been preserved and its qualities celebrated, time had come to find the proper ‘residents’. We found them by selecting a few international institutions, all with clear ambitions to transcend their brands by doing new things in China: museums, architecture centers, design labels and design offices – all keen on substantiating the factory itself, by making value on the spot. Among the program partners are V&A, OMA, Maxxi, Droog, MIT, MoMA New York, the Berlage, International Biennale of São Paulo, MFA, Archis, The New Institute, Studio-X, Shenzhen Center for Design, University of Hong Kong, INTI, THNK, Mies van der Rohe, L+CC, Riptide and Fatbird theatre. As a group they demonstrate how this Value Factory in the future can be repositioned.

12 oma room

13 droog

Value Factory Academy

From preserving unknown beauty and turn it into a new experience to producing exciting new forms; from pondering Shenzhen’s future to focusing on technical details and meeting people face to face, this project provides a unique learning experience in creative leadership. It is an experience we want to share with many. Therefore we founded the Value Factory Academy.

14 Logo en students in action

Value Factory public program

You can change a building, set up new institutional roles and start a school and an office, but first and foremost you need a public program to make sure people will get the proof of the pudding. Countless events including performances, seminars, dance events, fashion shows, speeches, theatre plays and harvest parties give witness of the factory’s vitality.

15 program spread sheet

8 main hall with light

16 Value Farm

Connecting Road

Seven steps towards a Value Factory, clearly recognizable while exploring the Value Factory campus. But to get there, one has to go along the Connecting Road from city to urban border, along the Shekou Industry Park potentials. As the Value Factory has revived the power of architecture by re-animating its machine hall, its warehouse, its silo and its outdoor green, its visitors will find on the road towards it, how much more is waiting for ideas and courage to follow suit.

18 red stickers on other silo building

19 street signs


close ceremony



Ole Bouman, Creative Director


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