Muhhe Studio inserts a “wooden box” into the factory to create a photographer’s studio

A white-painted steel and wood volume that contains an office, dressing room, reception and studio sits at the center of this photographer’s studio in a former factory building.

Located in a former factory building that overlooks a busy T-junction near a park in Nanjing, China, HNS Studio was designed by architects Muhhe Studio for local photographer Huai Nianshu.

The studio started by removing all the partitions and ceilings in the space to reveal a sloping wooden roof structure.

HNS Studio is a photography studio that has been renovated by Muhhe Studio

“In the early summer before the reconstruction, we went to the site, after the removal of the old partition, the high-rise space of the old factory was warm and transparent in the sunlight of the afternoon,” Muhhe Studio recalled.

“The photographer himself is extremely sensitive to light. His only expectation for the new studio space is a ‘transparent’ space.”

In order to capture the light, the studio used BIM software to simulate the movement of daylight in space throughout the day. In response to this study, the studio created several openings of varying sizes along the gable and west roof of the building to ensure the space would be evenly lit at all times.

Interior image of HNS studio office space and entrance
It is in an old factory

Additionally, the architects inserted three large windows that function as a showcase for the studio and increase its connection to the street outside.

A two-story structure that looks like two stacked boxes and contains all of the studio’s equipment has been built in the center of the space. On the ground floor, an office, a dressing room and a toilet are clad in marine plywood.

A series of stairs at the rear of the plywood volume lead to a floor wrapped in white painted steel. This open top floor overlooks the space below and will be used as a large photo studio with a reception area and an open-plan office.

The architects left the original factory space with its brick and plaster walls largely intact to function as a “continuous and rhythmic open space”.

Interior image of the HNS studio and wooden volume
The interior has been painted white and decorated with wooden furniture

The original entrance from the street on the south side has been moved to the rear so that before entering the office, one must now cross a semi-enclosed courtyard.

“We pay attention not only to the interior space, but also to the exterior space, and even to the relationship of the whole park, as well as the relationship between the history and the present of this space”, the architects told Dezeen.

“We designed the space very delicately to allow users and visitors to enjoy it. [To be] being people-oriented is our ultimate goal.”

Image of HNS Studio from the outside through a window
Windows have been inserted to function as storefront style glazing

This project has been shortlisted in the Small Workspace Interiors category of the Dezeen Awards 2022.

Other projects in the category include a part workspace and part community center in a sleepy fishing village in Taiwan, and a wine bar workspace for a consulting firm in Sweden.

Photography is by Xiaowen Jin, unless otherwise noted.

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