Inspiring China’s
new innovators

  • CLIENT Yufu Group
  • PROJECT GFA 110,500 sqm
  • LOCATION Chongqing, China

Skills at play

  • Qualitative research
  • Onsite scoping
  • Brand positioning
  • Ideation
  • Brand naming
  • Brand design
  • Communication design
  • Signage design
  • Project management

Working alongside well-known architect firm, Kenji Mantani Studio and property innovation firm, Lifestyle Creating, JWDK successfully created and deployed a new brand for the former Chongqing Iron and Steel Factory in Dadukou, Chongqing.

Surrounded by mountains and located along the Yangtze River, the site was once a thriving community of factory workers and their families during the many decades of steel production in China. After its closure in 2011 the factory lay abandoned until state-owned Yufu Group were awarded the contract to develop the site into a modern mixed-use development.

The new development is to include a historical steel museum, showroom style workspaces, modern apartments, boutique hotel, theatre and a sculpture park. It is a place for everyone to enjoy – the old, the young, artists, designers, families and couples.

A history of steel

Chongqing is one of the original industrial epicentres of China producing a vast amount of iron, steel and aluminium for the automobile industry, heavy industry and the military.

The original factory, formerly known as Hanyang Iron Plant, was founded by governor Zhang Zhi Dong in the late Qing Dynasty and was located in the city of Wuhan. In 1938, during the Sino-Japanese War, the factory relocated to Chongqing supporting the increasing war effort for China.

Military supply rapidly turned to railway supply after 1949 when China built its first railway since the foundation of the PRC connecting Chengdu to Chongqing. Subsequently, steel supplying railways, bridges and other major infrastructure was produced at the famed factory which locals simply call “Chonggang” (Chong from ‘Chongqing’ and ‘Gang’ for steel).


A new lease of life

The purpose of the project was to integrate the history of the region whilst regenerating the area to support a better quality of life. The aim of the Yufu Group was to create a new cultural landmark and tourist destination for Chongqing; express the industrial DNA of the original factory; and to attract high-level creative talent to support the new wave of innovation in China.

For Dadukou District, it will mean a new lease of life for the entire area and for the first time in its history will move from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

The Chonggang site in the early stages of redevelopment

Our brand challenge

The brand identity and naming brief was to reflect the factory’s famed history and express the future drive for innovation. Equally, we were asked to design the extended visual identity system including sub-brand logos, way-finding signage, leasing promotion and marketing collateral.

The cultural and historical significance of the project meant digging deep with our research and getting to know the local Chongqing culture. In Chongqing, this usually begins around a hotpot table where most locals gather to discuss business, family life and gossip with friends. JWDK immersed themselves in the city and visited key sites already in Chongqing that supported creative industry and we ate our fair share of hotpot too.

Two of Chongqing's changemakers

Inspired by locals

Our team interviewed local businesses including a boutique hotel, fusion restaurant, cultural fashion store, a hairdresser and an entrepreneurial coffee roaster and cafe owner. Each of the business owners inspired us with compelling stories about their work and shared valuable insights into local consumer habits and their levels of readiness for creativity and innovation.

Our interview research formed an important foundation for our creative ideas, helping us to build a brand that belongs to the local people as much as the local government.


Dreaming up a great future

Our bilingual naming strategy for the project was to create an overall meaning consisting of two united parts — the English as one meaning, coupled with the Chinese, which typically has a deeper meaning.

The Chinese name, 梦想钢城 (Meng Xiang Gang Cheng), means ‘Steel City of Dreams’ and evokes an immediate sense of a vision and innovation for the future. Whereas, the English name ‘Boomtown’ was chosen to reflect the fast-growing community of new-found wealth and innovation in the area. ‘Boom’ as an onomatopoeia, echoes the noise and energy pumped from the original steel factory. Equally, the English name is easy to read and say for people with limited English language ability – which is always a big consideration in China.

The 'visionary spark' was designed as a symbol to unite the community and inspire the future

The visionary spark

Before embarking on the creative brainstorm we identified three important pillars of the brand  — culture, innovation and industry. The complete brand story cannot be conveyed in a single name or logo, instead, we developed a wide toolkit to help collectively communicate the three pillars.

Our logo design contains a visionary star at its heart surrounded by a graphical spark. This logo represents the human effort behind the industry of the original steel factory. The monotone palette and heavy block typography suit the industrial nature of the project.

Punchy colours, icons and typography play a more functional role in the brand toolkit, helping us to create zones and build levels of hierarchy throughout the way-finding navigation.

From 2D to 3D, we strived to add human form and animation to our brand mascot

Gango – our steel brother

From the master logo, we developed a sub-brand identity for the Chongqing Museum of Industry. This steel museum is at the centre of the public area and is aimed at tourists and local schools and families. For this consumer sub-brand we created a steel mascot called ‘Gango’. The name comes from the Chinese endearing expression 刚哥 (Gang Ge), translating to ‘Steel Brother’, and evokes a feeling of friendliness and inclusivity. Gango stands as a steel warrior landmark at the front of the site in honour of the many brave factory workers who fought to protect the factory during the war.

Gango features in the steel museum logo as well as on signage and across a number of merchandising items for the museum shop.


A long road ahead

For a project of this scale, the journey of the brand has only just begun but we feel proud to set a strong foundation. We expect the site to open in phases over the course of 2018.

Thank you to the JWDK team. All parties are delighted and you have demonstrated a high professional level of creativity in the Boomtown project. The strategy, VI and naming has set a strong foundation for this long-term development. The leasing brochure is also prepared well above market standard.

Bryan Tang

Executive Director, Lifestyle Creating