Ole Scheeren Channels His Inner OMA with Guardian Art Center in the Heart of Beijing

The Angry Architect The Angry Architect

The “children of Rem” sure are growing up fast. Former OMA Partner Ole Scheeren’s firm BOS has been up and running for five years now, and the brains behind Beijing’s iconic CCTV Headquarters is now returning to the Chinese Capital with an ambitious new project, the enormous mixed-use Guardian Art Center.

The landmark building will hold a vast auction house, numerous exhibition galleries, an 18,000-square-foot event space, a luxury hotel, and educational facilities. It is comprised of two primary elements: a pixelated plinth of museum space with a huge column-free hall at its center, and a luminous glazed “ring” above containing 120 hotel rooms. A central tower will intersect the ring, filled with lecture halls, seminar rooms, and artists’ workshops.

The complex is designed as a new hybrid typology, literally “at the intersection of culture and commerce,” according to Scheeren, in the historic city center of Beijing. This turn of phrase is applicable programmatically — the museum and auction house fuses civic and commercial functions — but also in terms of site location, as the building will sit on the corner of Wusi Avenue, a cultural avenue leading to the Forbidden City, and Wangfujing Street, a key retail quarter.

The pixelated façades of the auction house and museum spaces on the lower two floors are intended to respect the surrounding urban fabric, with extruded sections echoing the scale and materials of the adjacent hutongs. Above, the larger scale of the translucent ring matches that of Beijing’s city blocks, with the central void paying homage to traditional Chinese courtyard layouts.

The programmatic diagrams produced by Büro Ole Scheeren are remarkably reminiscent of those produced another iconic firm; indeed, the influence of OMA is clear, and the mix of functions present within this project makes for a challenge that would no doubt have Koolhaas salivating. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to see if Scheeren can produce a building to make his former colleague proud — the Guardian Art Center is due to be completed in 2016 (fast by Western standards, perhaps, but maybe not by Chinese ones).

Yours multi-functionally,

The Angry Architect

All images courtesy © büro ole scheeren

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