Built on the doorstep of Beijing’s historic Forbidden City, the Guardian Art Center is a new hybrid typology for a cultural institution that transcends the traditional definitions of a contemporary art space. The world’s first custom-built auction house, it offers museum quality galleries, auction halls and state of the art conservation facilities, but also represents a community resource and integrated lifestyle concept with restaurants, cafes, a 120-room boutique hotel, flexible event and exhibition spaces, a bookshop and public transport infrastructure.
The design for the Guardian Art Center fuses the city’s traditional urban fabric and thriving metropolitan energy. Constructed at the intersection of Wangfujing, Beijing’s most famous shopping street, and Wusi Dajie, the site where China’s New Cultural Movement originated after the Qing Dynasty, the Guardian Art Center inhabits the space between culture and commerce in a synthesis of Beijing’s heritage and future.
The design carefully inscribes the building into its surrounding context, in a sensitive architectural interpretation that fuses history and tradition with a contemporary vision for the future of a cultural art space. The ‘pixelated’ volumes of the lower portion of the building subtly refer to the adjacent historic urban fabric, echoing the grain, color and intricate scale of Beijing’s hutongs. The upper portion of the building responds to the larger scale of the surrounding contemporary city in the form of a floating ‘ring’ that creates an inner courtyard to the building and further resonates with the prevalent typology of the courtyard houses in Beijing.
The grey stone-like pixels of the lower portion of the building are perforated by several thousand circular openings – generated by projecting one of China’s most important historic landscape paintings, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, onto its facades and thereby creating a subtle light filter through an abstracted landscape silhouette.