glass box illuminates artist's residence in beijing by atelier about architecture

glass box illuminates artist's residence in beijing by atelier about architecture

atelier about architecture recently renovated apartment 55, creating a light box and ritual-esque circulation for an artist’s residence. located at the top of a five-story building in beijing, china, the original apartment structure had to be able to carry the new loads of the renovation – making it a challenge for the architects. the artist also wanted to keep the existing courtyard and include additional areas for a reception, an exhibition space, his own studio and living quarters. 


all images © haiting sun

night view at the terrace



the artist requested that his studio be completely private, where he could become immersed in his art. in turn, the architects designed the spaces specifically to suit the position of his paintings, the angle of the light and the vision of the artist himself. the result is a minimalist apartment with a balance between colors, materials and lighting conditions.

dining room on first floor



the architects reorganized the spatial arrangement of the existing apartment and redesigned the horizontal and vertical circulation. as for the apartment’s layout, the main entrance opens to the public areas that include the reception and the exhibition room, and then transitions towards the semi-public areas and private areas such as the living room and studio space. 

dining room & kitchen on first floor



to provide visibility and accessibility for the visitors, there are a series of wooden sliding doors that separate spaces when closed, or expand spaces when they are open. the varying degrees of window transparencies and the position of corridors and stairs create transitional spaces that slowly reveal the residence’s entirety. the sliding doors and glazed partitions create a rythmic circulation through the apartment. 

viewing the dining room from the exhibition space



the architects designed three studios for the artist in the working area, providing different creative experiences that vary in ambiance. each studio is unique: the heights are different and controlled by the added steel structure, the positioning of openings in the room varies, and the size of the spaces themselves change form one to the next. every studio has a special lighting effect due to the way natural light enters the room and is reflected on its walls.

exhibition space on first floor



to increase the sense of privacy of the residence, the architects added a curtain wall starting at 5.6 m (18 ft) high from the inner courtyard. this means there are no windows at eye level in the reception area on the first floor – making the courtyard a homogeneous open-air exhibition space. hidden behind the facade is a staircase that leads up to the large studio on the second floor. this glass facade creates a box that gleams with natural light, filtering the direct sunlight coming into the studio, and providing a softly lit environment.

main painting room on second floor



the various skylights in the building reflect the emotional transitions experienced through the house as one walks through the spaces. the light also evokes a processional sense of moving from the public and semi public space on the first floor to the studio and private area on the second floor.

main painting room on second floor



the mixture of color, materials and light, transform the spaces in different ways. nano-concrete, creating a granular sensation of a textured polished surface, and the deep brown, glossy wood, provide the reception area with a sophisticated darkened hue. this dark area contrasts with the courtyard’s lit atmosphere, that projects natural light from the outside. the hue in the spaces starts to lighten once turning from the corridor on the first floor to a stairway leading up to the second. the wall and wooden floor are both light gray going up, and on the whole second floor the color is even lighter because of the light grey nano-concrete floor and the white walls.

studio space on second floor



daylight coming through the courtyard curtain wall brings a warm light to the working area. the third-floor terrace overlooks the large studio and courtyard, with light diffused from the glass facade at night illuminating the architecture. the architects intend for the integrated experiences of perception and form, light atmospheres and color transitions to slowly come together with the owner’s art.

studio space on second floor


stairwell lighting




project info:


location: beijing, china

program: residence/studio

architects: atelier about architecture

area: 300 sq m (3230 sq ft)

completion: 2019

interior design: atelier about architecture (

chief designers: ni wang, dawei zhang

interior design team: shujun yang, daguang shou, yiren fan

structural design: su liu

construction firm: da you he cheng construction & decoration co., ltd.

main materials: nano-concrete (soluzioni microverlay), furniture (cassina)

photography: haiting sun



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: cristina gomez | designboom

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