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.
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.
There are also interesting pipes that run all over the place.
My favorite place was a pool with little red lights.
On the Western part of the factory, three big green silos were used to stock the coal bricks.
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.
If one looks even more to the south, one can find a very interesting view on… another factory!
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.
The most interesting sculpture is an « industrial version » of the « wall of nine dragons » (九龙壁), a famous historical site in Datong.
In this case, it was made of different machines, all coming from different periods.
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: