Aurelien Chen retains references to China’s “Red Era” in renovated cultural centre

Architect Aurelien Chen has transformed a former miners’ canteen in Handan, China, into a multipurpose cultural centre featuring interventions that respond to the building’s communist heritage.

The canteen was built in the 1970s to serve workers at the Jinxing coal mine in China’s Hebei Province.

It is surrounded by office buildings dating back to 1912 that were built by German architects and feature a distinctly Western aesthetic.

Exterior of former coal mine building
The canteen was built to serve coal mine workers

The local government engaged China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to oversee the sustainable renovation of the site, with Beijing-based Chen asked