in close proximity to beijing’s forbidden city, büro ole scheeren has completed the ‘guardian art center’, a building designed for the display and exchange of art. conceived as a ‘machine for exhibitions and events’, the hybrid institution is at once an auction house, a museum, an event space, and a cultural lifestyle center. ‘the guardian art center represents a new hybrid concept for a cultural institution that transcends the traditional definitions of a contemporary art space,’ say the architects. ‘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.’

ole scheeren guardian art center
the ‘pixelated’ volumes of the lower part of the building subtly refer to the adjacent urban fabric
image by büro ole scheeren (main image by iwan baan)

 

 

at the center of ole scheeren’s design, a 1,700 square meter column-free exhibition space allows for maximum flexibility and versatility, while expansive exhibition areas on the second floor provide further gallery space. meanwhile, two halls in the basement — to be used for auctions or exhibitions — provide a more specific and formal setting. the venue’s large spaces are surrounded by smaller, interconnected rooms that accommodate support functions.

ole scheeren guardian art center
the building is perforated by thousands of circular openings
image by iwan baan

 

 

the building’s upper levels contain a 120-room hotel as well as several restaurants with views towards the forbidden city. ‘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,’ continues büro ole scheeren.

ole scheeren guardian art center
the pattern on the façade is an abstract representation of one of china’s historic landscape paintings
image by iwan baan

 

 

externally, the building’s façades seek to establish ‘abstract and subtle correspondence’ with chinese symbols and meaning. as a deliberate contrast to the ‘imperial motives’ of the forbidden city, over-sized glass bricks have been used to represent civil society and values and to resonate with the textures of the adjacent hutongs and courtyard houses. below, the lower portion of the building is perforated by thousands of circular openings. the pattern is an abstract representation of one of china’s most important historic landscape paintings, ‘dwelling in the fuchun mountains’.

ole scheeren guardian art center
the project has been conceived as a ‘machine for exhibitions and events’
image by iwan baan

 

 

forming a direct relationship with its context, the ‘pixelated’ volumes of the lower part of the building subtly refer to the adjacent urban fabric, echoing the intricate scale of the city’s hutongs, while the upper portion responds to the larger scale of the surrounding contemporary city. ‘by combining both the intimate and the monumental, and creating a diverse collection of spaces within this structure, the massing integrates itself into the sensitive historical and cultural environment and resonates with beijing’s strength and imposing presence through an explicitly understated monumentality,’ the architects explain. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

ole scheeren guardian art center
the hybrid institution is at once an auction house, a museum, and an an event space
image by iwan baan

ole scheeren guardian art center
escalators lead to the venue’s upper levels
image by shuhe

ole scheeren guardian art center
the circular perforation motif is continued internally
image by iwan baan

ole scheeren guardian art center
a 1,700 square meter column-free exhibition space allows for maximum flexibility and versatility
image by alex fradkin

ole scheeren guardian art center
two halls in the basement can be used for auctions or exhibitions
image by büro ole scheeren

ole scheeren guardian art center
office and administrative space is also included
image by shuhe

ole scheeren guardian art center
the porthole-like windows offer glimpses of beijing’s historic city
image by büro ole scheeren

 

 


project info:

 

name: guardian art center
type: auction house headquarters and cultural complex
commission: january 2011
construction start: 2013
completion: 2018
client: china guardian auction (beijing huangdu property development company ltd.)

 

location: no.1 wangfujng street, beijing, china
site area: approx. 6,320 m2
construction area: approx. 55,988 m2 (above ground: 29,255 m2, below ground: 26,733 m2)
height: 33.6m; 8 levels above ground, 5 levels below ground
program: exhibition/auction 4,000m2, offices 3,400m2, restaurants 2050m2, café/bookstore 150m2, hotel (120 rooms) 12,680m2, club tower 2,000m2, art storage and restoration spaces 2,700m2, parking 6,750m2

 

design architect: buro ole scheeren

principal / design: ole scheeren

partners: eric chang, dan cheong

associate in charge: virginia chiappa nuñez

team: marcel holmberg, sun ke, emily liang, cecilia lei, yingda liu, anna pierotello, nina sattler, olaf turck, lin wang; with: benjamin ahrens, mark biemans, kim bjarke, catarina canas, alicia casals, michael cavander, jeffrey cheng, patrick conway, dyno du, nicolaz frez, brian fung, daniel hawkins, xinran ji, philipp kramer, emeline laurencon, yuyang lin, mavis liu, wymen lo, max ma, rafael merino, john murphey, marcin olszowski, kevin ou, kevin park, yanyadech phornphong, aaron powers, klementina savickaite, jim shi ,chiara storino, joseph tang, yang tao, elena yang, quentin yiu, francis young, lei yu, danny zhang, bruno zhao, weiwei zhang, yi zhu
concept team: catarina canas, brian fung, paloma hernaiz, marcel holmberg, tait kaplan, jaime oliver, joseph tang

 

consultants:
local design institute: beijing institute of architectural design (BIAD), beijing
structural engineer: thornton tomasetti, new york; arup, beijing (concept)
building services engineer: WSP, hong kong/shanghai
façade consultants: front inc., new york/hong kong; PFT construction consulting, shanghai
interior design: buro ole scheeren, mq-studio, shanghai (hotel)
lighting consultant: ZDP, beijing

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