chinese firm CUN design has transformed an old warehouse in beijing, into the ‘utter space’ studio for famous chinese photographer liu zongyuan. the 1960s building was adjusted in order to house various spaces allowing the artist to work on his projects, and also organize exhibitions and other events within the same premises.

utter space beijing 1

brief view of the interior space

all images by liu zongyuan, wang ting



upon firstly arriving at the site, CUN design observed that the entire space was partitioned and structured in a chaotic manner. the interior walls were decorated with panels and the ceiling had been painted black. but through the added decoration, the architectural body and its history were still evident. thus, the architects initiated a series of operations, aiming to discover the original appearance of the building. during this process,the initial concrete structure system of the building was discovered, showcasing signs of time, while echoing of an inexplicable future. as a result, the original cement texture was revealed. 

utter space beijing 2
external view of the project



after the whole building was restored, the second stage of the project was in effect: design and construction. during this process, the designers had in mind the chinese wisdom called ‘shede’, which in western design language may be equivalent to ‘less is more’. as a first step in the design, an empty space was set up, along with two lines for movement, in order for visitors to wander around the various areas in all three levels. these lines are closed and looped and also, they are linked without crossing each other. next, functional division was allocated around these two moving lines to make the whole result more reasonable and rhythmic. 





after the structural, functional, and spatial rhythm were arranged properly, decoration was next. no added shapes were constructed, and only stone and metal were chosen as new materials. on the first floor, a stone desk was placed in the front lobby space, giving an interesting texture to the reception area. above the front desk, there is a canyon-shaped ceiling formation, with openings for natural, and linear lamps for artificial lighting. at the big studio, all traces of the old building and its age were preserved. in this room, the east-west axis engages in a discussion with the sunlight of the day, while the north-south axis features all the textured elements of stone, which along with the geometric windows, create a simple but powerful visual effect. on the second and third floor, the designers intervened so that each floor can look into the hall, providing an inclusive and connected feeling. 

utter space beijing 3
closer view to the facade with the original cement texture


utter space beijing 4
reception area


utter space beijing 5
the large studio, connecting all three levels progressively


utter space beijing 6
light passed through the stones, highlighting the beauty of its original weight


utter space beijing 7
angled wall leading to the studio


utter space beijing 8
the original structure and texture were preserved in the large studio


utter space beijing 9
staircase leading to the third floor


utter space beijing 10
lounge area on the third floor


utter space beijing 11
the truss structure created a powerful space


utter space beijing 12
stone and metal create a conversation within the space




project info:


name: utter space 

design studio: CUN design

area: 1000 m2

chief designer: cui shu

coordination designer: ma chuan, zhao yang, jiao yunqi, wang xu




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: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom