buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboomlocated in close proximity to beijing’s forbidden city, construction is now underway on the new headquarters of china’s oldest art auction house – ‘the guardian art center’. designed by international architecture firm büro ole scheeren, the complex has been configured to form a new hybrid institution that serves as a museum, event space, and cultural lifestyle center.

 

embedded within the historic fabric of central beijing, the ‘pixelated’ volumes of the lower part of the building subtly refer to the adjacent urban fabric, echoing the grain, color and intricate scale of the city’s hutongs, while the upper portion 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.

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
the upper portion of the building responds to the scale of the surrounding city
image © büro ole scheeren (also main image)

 

 

internally, the museum’s display and presentation areas are merged, with a variety of exhibition and auction rooms allowing for a wide range of events. the program also includes several restaurants and a 120-room hotel. at the center of the building, a 1,700 square meter column-free exhibition and event space allows for maximum flexibility, while the surrounding matrix of smaller, interconnected rooms serve support functions. two large auction halls in the basement provide a more specific and formal setting, with expansive gallery areas positioned on the second floor.

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
the scheme is embedded within the historic landscape of central beijing
image © büro ole scheeren

 

 

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 façade.

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
the inner courtyard at the building’s upper portion
image © büro ole scheeren

 

 

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to design this art center, which allows me to pay tribute to a country and city where I have now worked for over a decade, commented ole scheeren. ‘the building is located at a historic site that holds special significance to china, at an intersection of two streets, and two worlds: beijing’s most famous commercial street wangfujing and wusi dajie, the site where the new cultural movement originated after the qing dynasty. it explicitly pays respect to its context and location but also comes to embody the nature of an auction house at the intersection of culture and commerce.

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
the pixelated lower part of the building refers to the surrounding urban fabric
image © büro ole scheeren

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
the scheme is located in close proximity to beijing’s forbidden city
image © büro ole scheeren

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
versatile gallery space
image © büro ole scheeren

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
display and presentation areas are merged throughout
image © büro ole scheeren

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
auction hall
image © büro ole scheeren

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
the program also includes several restaurants and a 120-room hotel
image © büro ole scheeren

buro ole scheeren guardian art center beijing china designboom
the project’s perforated façade
image © büro ole scheeren