Fanshan Mining Town

Cangnan, Wenzhou, China

Fanshan Mining Town

Fanshan, located in Cangnan County, Wenzhou, near the border of Zhejiang and Fujian Province, has a rich history intertwined with alum mining. Named “World Alum Mining Town,” Fanshan has been a hub of alum mining and smelting for the past six hundred years. However, with technological advancements and shifts in the industrial market, the traditional alum mining industry has gradually declined, necessitating a transformative vision for Fanshan. Led by TLS in collaboration with PURE Architects and Cushman & Wakefield, a team has been formed to provide core area tourism planning, key area concept planning, and key project concept design for Fanshan.

Fanshan’s uniqueness lies in its profound history and culture. During its heyday, Fanshan Mining boasted 76 mining sites, over 200 mining teams, 5 alum smelting workshops, and 4 mining zones. The challenge now is to unveil Fanshan like an ore in a mining cave and revive the world alum mining town with thousands of years of history. The answer lies in preserving the historical heritage of the traditional alum mining and smelting process. Hence, we propose the concept of “True Color Fanshan,” which comprises two fundamental aspects:

  • Discarding the false and retaining the truth: Our aim is to maintain authenticity without over-packaging it. We emphasize the preservation and restoration of tangible and intangible historical elements.
  • Juxtaposition of crude and crystalline: The unique aesthetics of the design emerge from the contrast between crystal alums and crude ores.

One of the most significant mining areas in Fanshan is Jilong Mountain caves. In our design approach, we have themed the Jilong Mountain caves around adventure and cultural tourism. Our innovative idea is to transform the Jilong Cave itself into an underground museum, referred to as the Capsule Museum. This dynamic and diverse system comprises numerous “exploration capsules,” which are renovated and curated small mining chambers scattered throughout the site. The larger chambers are renovated into various cultural, adventurous, or entertaining destinations according to its shape, size, and structure safety. Our work focuses on the 270-412 fragments, which is only a small portion of the whole Jilong Mountain Caves, but the Capsule Museum is growing and expandable in the future. A detailed phasing and investment analysis is also performed.

The planning of the Fudewan Scenic Area, Fanshan Old Street, and Workshop #3 revolves around the museum, forming a cohesive “museum cluster.” We have introduced cultural exhibition projects, heritage experiences, research initiatives, and festival activities into the design of Fudewan Old Street to enhance its cultural significance.

The other crucial components of the tourism planning is Shuiwei Village and the Dagang Mountain, which are centered around a glamping-style luxury vacation experience. We seek to emphasize the contrast between the “authenticity” of the mining environment and the vibrancy of engaging activities, creating a truly unique and memorable experience.


Cangnan, Wenzhou, China


Tourism Planning: 5 Square km Concept Design: 51 HA


Wenzhou Cangnan Government


Cushman & Wakefield

PURE Architecture