Large and small, day and night, inside and out. Tranquility and dynamism, past, future and the unquantifiable that is the present- Our lives are dominated by opposites, dualities and the places the two meet. UNStudio looks to these counterpoints in its vision for the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC). The grand volume of the museum rises from the ground and divides into two semi- cylindrical shells that pay homage to ancient Chinese stone drums. Upon the facades are projected digital media, alluding to the art within. This, like the museum’s shape can be traced back to the stone drums, whose surfaces are inscribed with characters, giving insight into the growth and form of ancient written Chinese. The architects state that

 Whilst the architecture of the museum is represented by the ancient artifact of the stone drum, the art within represents its spirit, or its “essence”. In the same way that the agile strokes of ink in a Chinese painting give spirit to a blank piece of paper, the art collection gives spirit to the museum

© Courtesy of UNStudio

Within, the NAMOC is a world differing and unique. With the objective of displaying many different forms of art, the spaces vary in both layout and character. Ample wall space and a range of lighting configurations allow the art to be exhibited in a way that most fits the individual piece. Circulation is broken up into routes, which guide visitors along planned circuits. By way of this planned circulation, curators can lay out artwork with procession in mind, in four dimensions rather than three.

© Courtesy of UNStudio

Situated at the focal points of surrounding ways of approach, the building situates itself firmly within its urban and cultural context. The grounds immediately around the drums are a sort of urban plinth, projecting the twins above street level, drawing potential visitors in towards their mass.

Client: National Art Museum of China
Location; Beijing, China
Programme: National Art Museum, offering fixed and temporary exhibition spaces, educational facilities, offices, restaurants and shops.
Scale: Building 99.700 m²
Status: Competition entry


UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Gerard Loozekoot with Joerg Petri, Sander Versluis and Tatjana Gorbatschewskaja, Aurelie Hsiao, Amanda Chan, Imola Berczi, Philip Meise, Tina Kortmann, Hans Kooij, Mo Ching Ying Lai
Artist: Song DongFaçade, Structure, MEP,
Acoustic: Bollinger & Grohmann, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Engineering: Bollinger & Grohmann, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Visualisations and Animation:  Mir, Bergen, Norway

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