The Coal Gas Factory / 煤气厂

Coal is an essential element of Datong’s urban identity as part of its economic history. I explored the many coal mines (still working despite the crisis!) during the spring time, when the weather got warmer, and I even found an abandoned coal mine and my favorite place, the ruined coal-mining village… For the time being, I am happy to make you discover another spot linked to coal: the old coal gas factory.

When I first spotted this place, I was on a long-distance bus arriving to the bus station. Even without knowing what kind of factory it was, one could tell from the general aspect that it had been abandoned for a while. One day, I went there and found out it was in fact Datong coal gas factory, producing coal gas items used by families for domestic use. Built in the 1980s, the coal gas factory opened in 1990 and closed down in 2008. In 2012, an artistic cooperation agreement was signed in order to make this industrial wasteland an art district. But like every other project in Datong, it evolved slowly now that Mayor Geng was gone. Before the park is finished, five years from now, here is a preview of this factory’s architecture and design.

General architecture

I find this factory absolutely fabulous, and the many trips I made there will be presented in several posts. About the general architecture, it is quite small but very diverse and colourful. The buildings are still in a pretty good shape, especially the central one.

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Main building, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Metal structure, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

There are also interesting pipes that run all over the place.

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Pipes, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

My favorite place was a pool with little red lights.

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The pool area, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Pool, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

On the Western part of the factory, three big green silos were used to stock the coal bricks.

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Inside one silo, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Metal spider web, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

At the back of the factory, there were even more interesting architectural features. Because one warehouse got demolished, only the pillars remained like tree stumps. It does look like a graveyard there.

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Industrial graveyard, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Belt conveyor in graveyard, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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« Happy to go to work, coming back home at peace », Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

If one looks even more to the south, one can find a very interesting view on… another factory!

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Factory echo, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

The working factory in the back of the picture is Datong’s second power plant, the first one has been abandoned (but difficult to get into). It works with coal.

Art in the factory

While exploring the factory, one can also appreciate the first artistic compositions that will be displayed in this park, all made out of recycled factory elements.

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Faces, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Spikes, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Cupboards, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Sculpture, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

The most interesting sculpture is an « industrial version » of the « wall of nine dragons » (九龙壁), a famous historical site in Datong.

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Nince dragons screen wall, Datong (internet sources)

In this case, it was made of different machines, all coming from different periods.

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The wall of nine machines, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015
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Machine detail: « Serve the people », Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

There are many cultural events organized in the factory, such as a music festival which will take place at the end of July 2016.

Until I show you more pictures of this beautiful place on other posts, here is a last impression:

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Good night, Coal Gas Factory, Nov 2015

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