The project Xiang Jing + Qu Guangci Sculpture Studio lies at the cross-section of art and nature. Designed by Aterlier100s + 1, is an architecture firm based in Beijing, China. Architect Peng Lele, founder of the firm believes in the principle of creating designs that make architecture ‘alive’; architecture that is in harmony with its surroundings.

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The mountain-shaped red brick studio designed for the acclaimed Chinese sculptors and partners Xiang Jing and Qu Guangxi is one such example of Aterlier100s + 1 that focuses on solving problems related to the development of contemporary architectural art and urban environment.

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Xiang Jing’s work explores the imperfection and realness of the female form and the psychological tension of human existence. Her husband, Qu Guangxi, is known internationally for his post-political expression techniques, creating colorful and cherubic sculptures. The building subtly reflects the couple’s work and Peng Lee transforms the 3000 sq. m space into a work of art.

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The maze-like structure reveals the complexity of the project in its division of spaces. The studio incorporates the living and working spaces for the couple under one building. Spatially, on the ground floor are the couple’s workspaces. The main exhibition area is also on the ground floor overlooking the courtyard and the terrace that is used to host events or communication with other artists. Since sculpture designing requires dedicated spaces for different activities, it includes spaces for molding and polishing sculptures. There is a dedicated yoga room to encourage healthy living. The upper floors include living space for the couple. Along with that, there are dedicated living spaces provided to the 10 assistants working for the couple. All these various spaces are interspersed amongst internal courtyards and pavilions.

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The exterior of the building has a network of interlocking stairs, platforms, walkways, and open spaces connecting different mezzanines and floors. The building’s façade reflects its elegant use of exposed red brickwork through brise- soleil, and arches. The exposed concrete work as structural and architectural elements complement the exposed red brickwork.

Xiang Jing + Qu Guangci Sculpture Studio incorporates nature into its building in different ways; like the green courtyard, landscaped pavilions, and the play of light and shadow through brise-soleil. This combined with the couple’s artworks creates a unique experience for the people.

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The 1250 square meter labyrinth setback towards northwest is characterized by its use of 3-Dimensional routes – pathways, bridges, and staircases that connect different pavilions. They offer great views of the courtyard and the surroundings; as well as help in reducing the volume of the huge building. The smart use of brise-soleil across the building and reduced building mass helps in filtering light and provide better natural light and ventilation to the otherwise large building. The internal spaces that are connected by corridors are also well-lit with the use of skylights.

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The main courtyard which is located in the south-eastern corner is the heart of the building. It reflects the essence and concept of Chinese courtyards. The pavilions and courtyards have beautiful landscapes that give a quiet serene feel to the spaces. The entire building has the couple’s sculptures on display at various intersections, pavilions, and courtyards that tell a story about that space. Peng flawlessly combines traditional Chinese art elements with her architectural designs.

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Xiang Jing + Qu Guangci Sculpture Studio is a connection between emptiness and mass, sparse and dense, turn and return. Architect Peng Lee attaches great importance to what people feel when they are in a building she has designed. She believes the “vigor” of a building is derived from both the architect, who designs the building and the people who use the building. The architecture of this project reflects a series and a variety of dramatic scenes that give the feeling of reading literature that contains the stories of a building and the people who are in it.

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Author

Aayushi Sanghvi, a young architect who extensively believes in the potential of research to make informed design decisions. She considers intellectual design dialogues as the stepping stones towards cognisant architecture. She is flexible, quick learner and an avid traveller; learning about new culture, people, spaces and expanding her horizon every-day.

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