Location: Beijing, China
The contemporary insertions into the complex are designed to impact minimally on the fabric and character of Huang ShiCheng, whilst being completely distinct from the existing structures in form and appearance. Although the new exhibition buildings aim to maximize available space in their strategic locations, they are self-contained structures that make no contact with the historic buildings around them. Conceptually they appear as simple boxes that seem to hover a small distance above the ground, as though they were dropped into the compound and could be picked up again at anytime.
These boxes are covered with brushed metal panels that pick up diffuse reflections of the surroundings, making them appear lighter, and starting a visual dialogue between the buildings and their context. From a practical viewpoint this material is also better suited to the dusty Beijing atmosphere than, for example, white rendered surfaces, which rapidly become visibly dirty and are more problematic to clean.
In order to create spaces suitable for the exhibition of contemporary art, the height of the new exhibition buildings is maximized according to local building regulations which specify a limit of nine metres, whilst ancillary buildings are limited to the height of the bounding wall of the compound (around 6.2 metres) to reduce external visibility.
Internally the exhibition spaces are designed as simple white, orthogonal, column-free spaces to allow maximum flexibility. Lighting is provided by simple linear skylights assisted by artificial lighting in accordance with the particular needs of the gallery space.
Architect: Studio Pei-Zhu
Design Principal: Zhu Pei
Lead Designer: Mark Broom, Zeng Xiaoming
Project Team: He Fan, Xue Dong, Xi Weidong, Hua Lei