Located in close proximity to the Forbidden City, construction is underway on the new headquarters of China’s oldest art auction house. Embedded in the historic fabric of central Beijing, the building will form a new hybrid institution between museum, event space, and cultural lifestyle center. Ole Scheeren’s design for the Guardian Art Center carefully inscribes the building into the surrounding context, in a sensitive architectural interpretation that fuses history and tradition with a contemporary vision for the future of a cultural art space.
The ‘pixelated’ volumes of the lower portion of the building subtly refer to the adjacent historic urban fabric, echoing the grain, color and intricate scale of Beijing’s hutongs, while the upper portion of the building responds to the larger scale of the surrounding contemporary city. This floating ‘ring’ forms an inner courtyard to the building and further resonates with the prevalent typology of the courtyard houses in Beijing. “The Art Center will be a tangible link between past, present, and future.
It celebrates history and tradition while also representing an important social and civic amenity for the capital” says China Guardian’s Chairman and Founder, Chen Dongsheng. The Guardian Art Center represents a new hybrid concept for a cultural institution that transcends the traditional functions of an auction house. Merging the display and presentation of art in its museum spaces with the multifunctional capacities of its exhibition and auction rooms allows virtually any type of usage and event to take place.
The seamless integration of several restaurants and a 120-room hotel in the floating ring of the building with views to the Forbidden City creates an encompassing lifestyle concept centered on the experience of art and culture. Through the addition of educational facilities in its central ‘club tower’ and art conservation departments in its basements, the Guardian Art Center further manifests its position as the world’s first custom-designed auction house headquarters and a new hybrid art space.
At the center of the building, a 1,700 square meter column-free exhibition and event space allows for maximum flexibility and versatility, while the surrounding matrix of smaller, interconnected rooms of the architectural pixels serve support functions. Two large auction halls in the basement provide a more specific and formal setting, with expansive exhibition areas on the second floor completing the typological variety of spaces of the Art Center.
The building’s facades take on a specific role in its cultural expression and Chinese integration: The upper ring of the hotel is made of floating, over-sized glass bricks, resonating with the textures of the adjacent hutongs and courtyard houses. In contrast to the imperial motives of the nearby Forbidden City, the brick represents civil society and values – a humble and non-elitist symbol in Chinese culture.
The grey stone-like pixels of the lower portion of the building are perforated by several thousand circular openings – generated by projecting one of China’s most important historic landscape paintings, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, onto its facades and thereby creating a subtle light filter through an abstracted landscape silhouette. Commissioned in early 2011 and due to open in 2016. Source by Büro Ole Scheeren.
Location: No.1 Wangfujng Street, Beijing, China
Architect: Büro Ole Scheeren
Lead Design Architect: Buro Ole Scheeren, Hong Kong/Beijing
Partner (design): Ole Scheeren
Partner (management): Eric Chang
Project Leader: Dan Cheong, Virginia Chiappa Nunez, Lin Wang
Project Team: Michael Cavander, Marcel Holmberg, Emily Liang, Yingda Liu, Nina Schippel, Olaf Turck, with: Benjamin Ahrens, Kim Bjarke, Catarina Canas, Alicia Casals, Michael Cavander, Jeffrey Cheng, Patrick Conway, Dyno Du, Nicolaz Frez, Brian Fung, Daniel Hawkins, Xinran Ji, Emeline Laurencon, Mavis Liu, Wymen Lo, Max Ma, John Murphey, Marcin Olszowski, Kevin Ou, Kevin Park, Aaron Powers, Klementina Savickaite, Chiara Storino, Joseph Tang, Yang Tao, Elena Yang, Francis Young, Lei Yu, Danny Zhang, Bruno Zhao
Concept Design Team: Jaime Oliver, Paloma Hernaiz, Joseph Tang, Marcel Holmberg, Catarina Canas, Brian Fung
Executive Architect: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD), Beijing
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti, New York; Arup, Beijing (Concept)
Building Services Engineer: WSP, Hong Kong/Shanghai
Executive Engineer: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD), Beijing
Façade Consultants: Front Inc, New York/Hong Kong; PFT Construction Consulting, Shanghai
Project Imagery: Buro Ole Scheeren, Hong Kong/Beijing
SAN, Beijing; Crystal CG, Beijing (computer renderings)
Images: Büro Ole Scheeren