Xu Beihong foundation
Art museum and memorial hall in Beijing
The museum is a simple yet expressive form- the dynamism of the artist’s works reflected through the polygonal faces of the facade. The spaces are sculpted around a central atrium that links together the various functions.
Building area: 10885 sqm
The Xu Beihong Memorial Hall is a new public building dedicated to the Chinese painter in Beijing. In addition to galleries and exhibition halls it will include a research center, education institute, and administrative facilities.
Both these conditions of the plot and meaning behind the building determined the strategy of the project. In such and environment, it is possible to consider the least intrusive approach, a discrete object within its context. Contrarily we define the project by the content- the paintings of the artist, foregoing the container- the form of the building.
The scheme is conceived as a simple block inserted into the forest landscape. It is through the inspirations of the artist’s work within that its compact figure twists in contrast: its façade becomes a vibrant skin formed by polygonal pieces of metal mesh. The distortions of the facade reflect an angular energy that carries through from both the arrangement and geometry of the spaces within.
This simple piece of sculptural character is presented to the visitor as at once strong and solid in form, yet light in materiality: an effortless understanding at a distance, it reveals a thoughtful complexity as one approaches closer to the project. Not unlike how one may digest a great work of art, the visitor gets drawn deep into the building through their curiosity of its dynamic forms, until it finds itself in world shaped by the artist, a neutral interior space where one is free to discover the meanings and beauty of the painter’s work.
The inside of the building is organized around a bright atrium that works as a central lobby connecting and distributing all other program. The main stairway brings the visitors up to the top floor from where they can spiral down through the exhibition halls. The research center and administrative facilities are located on ground and upper floors with a connection to each other on the north side of the site. The museum is complete with a roof terrace and small cafeteria from which it offers views toward a nearby lake and surrounding landscape.
Structurally, the building continues the conceptual idea of contrasts operating at different scales. Starting from a simple grid structure made of reinforced concrete, the floor slabs are subtracted at different levels to introduce the central atrium. On the outside, the mesh skin distorts the standard geometry by means of a polygonal steel substructure on which the faces of the mesh is attached. Adding to the contrasts is the overlapping of different patterns of copper to create a vibrant and warm effect. Inside the building the finishes are solved with simple joints and generous use of light with bright surfaces.