The ancient city of Shou County is located in the Anhui Province in the basin of the rivers Yangtze and Huai, in the southeast of China. The ancient city was roughly square shaped and was oriented internally along strong north-south and east-west axes.

Location: Shou County, Anhui, China
Client: Shouxian Government
Completion Date: 2019
Total Area: 30,010 m2
Architect, Landscape and Interior Design: Studio Zhu Pei
Design Principal: Zhu Pei
Design Team: Shuhei Nakamura, Du Yang, You Changchen, Liu Yian, Liu Ling, Wu Zhigang, Yang Shengchen, Ding Xinyue, Ke Jun, Wu Zhenhe, Duyao, Nie Wenhao


Structural and MEP: BIAD JAMA CO., LTD.
Landscape and Interior: The Design Institute of Landscape &Architecture China Academy of Art
Main Contractor: ShengWo Construction Group Co., LTD.
Photography by schranimage, courtesy of Studio Zhu Pei

Shou County Culture And Art Center By Studio Pei-Zhu - Sheet7
©schranimage, courtesy of Studio Zhu Pei

Today, this historical form and the original housing typology that occupied it are still recognizable. During the past ten years, a street grid for a new urban district has replaced former agricultural fields to the south-east of the city, within which pockets of dense urban fabric have emerged.

One of the first cultural buildings in this new district, the Shou County Culture and Art Center, continues the traditional spirit of the local place in a radically new day.

Shou County Culture And Art Center By Studio Pei-Zhu - Sheet8
©schranimage, courtesy of Studio Zhu Pei


The design was inspired by both typologies of ancient city of Shou County and local courtyard houses of the Anhui province, with their closed facades and narrow alleyways.

Several programs are contained within the solid, rectangular form, including an art museum, cultural center, library and archives that will provide a brand new cultural gathering place for the city.

The earlier sketches clearly shown that more than half dozens of courtyards with different scales appear as though carved into the solid block form, with each assigned to one of the main programs. Those courtyards are connected by a spiral loop public corridor, people can wander from ground level to all levels of the building without interrupting the continuity of the interior programs.

Shou County Culture And Art Center By Studio Pei-Zhu - Sheet11
©schranimage, courtesy of Studio Zhu Pei

The entrance courtyard has a plaza character, like “Tangwu”, a central courtyard of Huizhou housing typology, for people gathering. It is accessed from the south through a gate crossing the water. All programs can be reached starting from here through a few vertical circulation stairways behind walls with an almost two story-high opening. In the back courtyard, like back garden of local housing typology, the vertical circulation staircase is obscured by a three-story wall with a large fan-shaped opening, reminiscent of the staged views in old gardens.

Shou County Culture And Art Center By Studio Pei-Zhu - Sheet13
©schranimage, courtesy of Studio Zhu Pei

The exterior character is expressed by closed facade perforated irregularly with different sized openings. Those openings, like caves, carved into solid block connecting with vertical courtyards and spiral loop public corridor to create a porous architecture.

Natural ventilation, shelter from sun and rain not only create the microclimate that cool in summer and warm in winter, but also reflect the local traditional intelligent ideas.

Studio Pei-Zhu

Studio Zhu Pei, founded by Zhu Pei in 2005 in Beijing, is one of the leading Chinese architecture firms focusing on art and cultural projects. The studio is recognized for its experience of ability to blend forms, space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. The studio specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular natural, cultural and historic importance. The most notable work includes Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum (2020), Yangliping Performing Arts Center (2020), Shou County Culture and Art Center (2019), Zibo Art Center (2020), CUBE Art Museum at 798 (2020), Minsheng Museum of Modern Art (2015), Taimiao Art Museum (2015), Yi Garden I, 12th Venice Biennale (2010), and Cai Guoqiang Courtyard House Renovation (2007).

Zhu Pei Portrait


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