The scale and speed of urbanization have created a few large-scale city centres in China, with rapid development at the forefront in cities like Zhengzhou. The Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives is a project that collaborates between an otherwise conflicted urban and historical setting by bringing a culture of art amongst the urban scale to recall local cultural memory.
This project has aimed to become a catalyst or connecting bridge between this dual background.
All About The Design
Three buildings in the west of Zhengzhou form a prominent cultural cluster with the Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives as a part of it. The design traces back to the regional culture in an abstract way. Bearing this in mind, the architects and civil engineers at Tongji Architectural Design (TJAD) and Zeng Qun Architecture Design Studio proposed a large-scale form that matched an equivalent volume and dialogue with the two major buildings in its surrounding space.
The design philosophy rendered into the prototype explores similarities between the local art of the Shang and Zhou dynasty and the historical buildings in the Central Plains, all tracing back to the intricacies of the Chinese primitive aesthetic form. Guided by the archetypes of architecture, the form and balance of the structure gradually unravel as clear and crisp, composed of sharp lines without excessive ornamentation.
The overall ideology of design sought out for the Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives creates a vague image of resemblance with a glimpse of the charm of the cultural memory, thus standing strong without falling into the symbolic representation of a simple correspondence with the concrete form.
Completed in 2020, the project covers an area of 96,700 square meters. The design is divided into two volumes according to the independent functions of the two pavilions.
They are connected at the base of the first floor and the roof slab at the top, thus forming a public space. On the exterior, the right slopes and cuts around the building correlate to the environmental elements of the structures in its vicinity.
Through the atrium, the art museum organizes spaces with a correspondence between the external inverted wall and the staircase of the plank road image. As a visitor ascends the stairs, space tends to diverge in a way that makes it more spacious and open. The presence of a skylight lets the project break free from the traditional setup of a museum where the artificially lit ‘dark box’ concept creates an enclosed atmosphere.
Throughout the day, the light penetrating from the skylight livens the surroundings with a play of light and shadow.
The interior space of the Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives works well with an overall strategy of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ reflecting and continuing the architectural appearance truthfully from the perspective of construction.
The project hopes to encourage a cultural significance of different times in China, with the sole concept being that of public perception towards the belongings it inhabits. In this architectural experience, the design with its axes and form, material selection, space categorization, and natural lighting elements hopes to provide its users with perception and experience changes in space and time.
The Materials Speak For Themselves
Materials constitute the structural capacity, the aesthetic appeal as well as the environmental responsibility of a building. The Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives portray a magnificent form with crisp edges that form volumes and its predominant utilization of precast concrete decorative panels. The facade of the building is a warm grey, with the overall colour being extracted from regional cultural elements presenting a new look through its contemporary treatment.
With the stripe texture of its exterior, the building maintains a coarse texture on a large scale, whereas the finer details are incorporated effortlessly that makes the structure approachable as a whole.
The main entrance faces the southeast direction with a large twisted surface designed to guide visitors from the museum towards their counterparts in an uninterrupted flow. The facade window adopts a skin texture that adds delicate layers to the architectural form and resembles historical traces of the Gongyi Grottoes of Henan Province.
Another notable feature of the structure is the cable-net glass curtain wall, constructed on the east facade to form a huge view frame in the atrium, giving a view of the city outside to be a backdrop and parallel projection to the art inside and find presence and meaning with the outside.
The design introduces a side court to create public spaces at intervals for the complete experience of individually perceiving the artwork along with sharing common ground with other fellow enthusiasts. The floor slabs retreat in layers with a flexible opening of the wall and the light and shadow of the linear skylight that sets a rhythm bringing out the essence of the space even with mild restrictions on the area utilized to create said space.
The Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives welcome its spectators to an open, traditional yet contemporary space that speaks as a platform for art and culture regardless of the exhibits placed inside.
The Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives break away from traditional presentation techniques through the core of its design conceptuality. Though the building, its setting, inspiration, and featured artwork speak of a time that symbolizes cultural memory bringing about the traditional forms to life, the architecture also comprises a balance of contemporary design towards modernism and urbanization. The structure in its construction and materiality is sustainable, with features that advocate environment-friendly practices.
The primary use of precast concrete blocks makes the building sustainable. The exceptional green feature of the building is the limited use of energy resources as ventilation and light are naturally sourced in most angles and layouts of different spaces. The use of huge glass panels and curtain wall facades with repetitive skylights allows the consumption of artificial lighting to a bare minimum. Contrary to the design standards of most museums, the building conserves energy by naturally creating a play of light and shadow throughout.
With a complex patchwork of cultural memory, environment, space shaping, and a take towards urbanization, the Zhengzhou Art Museum and Zhengzhou Archives strive to construct an overall strategy to maximize the integration of form and space language to create a vitality catalyst belonging to Zhengzhou simply and holistically between the retrospection of history and the foothold on the site.