pei zhu: designboom conversation in beijing
pei zhu: designboom conversation in beijing pei zhu: designboom conversation in beijing
mar 23, 2012

pei zhu: designboom conversation in beijing

‘OCT design museum’ by studio pei-zhu, shenzhen, china image © designboom




on september 28th, 2011, we hosted a designboom conversation ‘contemporary chinese architecture from the outside in’, at the ullens center for contemporary art (UCCA) in beijing. the round-table brought together for the first time ever, prominent chinese architects pei zhu (studio pei-zhu), liu xiaodu (urbanus), ma yansong (MAD), wang yun (atelier fronti) and liu jiakun (jiakun architects) in a single public event. the five lectures were introduced by architecture critic fang zhenning and moderated by birgit lohmann, editor-in-chief of designboom.


studio pei-zhu is beijing-based firm that uses research as a platform for understanding the relationship between chinese philosophy and contemporary architecture. founder, pei zhu, gave an in-depth presentation on his design process, the struggles he has with design and how nature drives his architectural forms.


‘nature is a rich source of inspiration, you do not need to create anything but observe, because nature is always creating things better than you can ever image.’ – pei zhu

video © designboom

‘shenzhen OCT design museum’ by studio pei-zhu, shenzhen, china stepped platforms image © designboom




the ‘shenzhen OCT design museum’ is located within the new cultural recreation entertainment area of shenzhen, china. it takes its form from the fluid movement of a water droplet, which is reminiscent of the buildings close proximity to a harbor and neighboring coast. the reflective metal coating allows for the surrounding area to be mirrored creating an engaging experience around the site. the interior space mimics the organic shape of the exterior with a circular motion reminding visitors of the exterior architectural configuration.


see designboom’s original coverage of the ‘shenzhen OCT design museum‘.

plaza in front of museum image © designboom

second level image © fang zenning image courtesy studio pei zhu

double height atrium image © fang zenning

tour passing through upper mezzanine image © designboom

‘yi garden’ by pei zhu at the 12th international architecture biennale in venice, italy image © designboom




‘the essence of traditional chinese gardens is the point of access. when you enter this space, you can feel a sense that there is a spirit. the installation has no fixed geometrical shape…it is contrastive and futuristic.’ – pei zhu


exhibited at the 2010 venice biennale chinese pavillon, a field of one thousand acrylic bars form a boundary between the visual and physical perception of the grounds. the physical and conceptual space around the clear objects is a reinterpretation of the traditional design of a chinese garden. the tension between its indistinct character and blurred edges create a formless form positioned on the horizon.


see designboom’s original coverage of ‘yi garden at venice architecture biennale 2010‘.

image © designboom

installation at dusk image © studio pei-zhu

acrylic bars lit up at night image © studio pei-zhu

‘cai guoqiang courtyard house’ by studio pei-zhu, beijing, china image © studio pei-zhu




the program for this residence called for the restoration of a historically significant classical siheyuan courtyard house, and a new addition within its compound. designed as an object that floats in the south patio facing the traditional structure, the new invisible building has a dialogue with its immediate predecessor. the renovation adapts its vocabulary to co-exist symbiotically with the old regeneration.


see designboom’s orginal coverage of the ‘cai guoqiang courtyard house‘.

interior of new structure image © studio pei-zhu

interior detail image © studio pei-zhu

interior hallway image © studio pei-zhu

‘minsheng art museum’ by studio pei-zhu, beijing, china image © studio pei-zhu




currently studio pei-zhu is working on the ‘minsheng art museum’ located in the northern part of the 798 art zone in bejing, china. the concept for the building is a folding of the interior space. a benched area will give patrons the ability to travel to the upper levels through these angular spaces. when completed the 60,000 m2 building will be one of the longest exhibition spaces in the world.

exhibition space image © studio pei-zhu

gallery space image © studio pei-zhu

image © studio pei-zhu

before image of the space image © studio pei-zhu

is there a new, more flexible urban ideal? one in which the greatness of cities is seen to arise from a clash of architectural visions, built up from spontaneous and unregulated taste and problems of densification? many of the new generation, overseas-educated chinese architects have decided to stay in china and are internationally known for their experimental building processes and indigenous use of materials. from recycling-based construction methods to the mass creation of new high-rise buildings, contemporary chinese architecture is a progressive force in society, and has begun to make its own, unique mark on 21st century global architecture.


see designboom’s original announcement and initial coverage of the group discussion here

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