GYT gallery

Year: 2012
Size: 20,000 m2
Type: cultural
Status: construction documents
Location: Beijing, China
Client: Guanyintang Investment Cooperation

Partners in charge: Federico Ruberto, Nicola Saladino
Design team: Pingshan Qu, Dong Liu

This project was commissioned by the cultural development company of Wang Si Ying village, located on the South-East boundary of Beijing. In the last 10 years the area has undergone a radical transformation, from agricultural land to urban outskirt, attracting the interest of several type of financial investors and speculators.

The site stands at the side of an important motorway that brings an impressive amount of cars into Beijing. The immediate context is characterized by a typical sub-urban undifferentiated pattern of mega-blocks, in which the only recognizable presence is the clustered space of a golf-club. Due to the local presence of several art galleries, the neighborhood is trying to brand itself as a center for cultural production and our project is meant to become its new entrance gate. The 20.000sqm block will host a commercial ground floor (mainly focused on art-related products), two floors of offices and art studios, and galleries in the last floor.

Our intervention tries to soberly resolve the client's will to create an iconic (though low-budget) building, avoiding pretentious and unjustifiable moves. Having to deal with the scarcity of money and time availability for its construction, we started the design from the simplest structural system of a box, articulating the facade and the interior spaces through processes of stratification and excavation. From the exterior, the mass of the building gradually loses its monumental integrity and the Euclidean volume gradually evolves into a permeable envelope, with big perforations on the facades and the roof, in which the internal programmatic organization plays a substantial compositional role. The rhythm of the external concrete blades loses its objective integrity becoming part of the street-scape, echoing and playing with the dynamism of the highway.

Whilst establishing subtle links with the adjacent urban fabric and connecting with the existing system of pedestrian networks, the building produces a multiplicity of internal spaces. The programs and floors are arranged and “eroded” with different rates of porosity, creating interesting and unexpected combinations of solid-void masses and allowing moments of spatial looseness in an otherwise rigid and constricted 10 x 10m structural grid.

The use of glazed surfaces and the dynamic sequence of courtyards (with various degrees of permeability to the outside) creates and ambiguous atmosphere where there is no clear separation or obvious distinction between open and close, interior and exterior, leading to multiple ways of moving, looking, inhabiting the space.