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ART, ARCHITECTURE + NATURE, Hiroshi Senju Museum (千住博美術館), Karuizawa (軽井沢) , Japan

In a November evening in 2012, we attended an architectural lecture at University of Toronto by Ryue Nishizawa (西沢立衛), one of the two principals of the world acclaimed architectural firm SANAA.  In that lecture, he talked about several of his projects, including his recent projects (back then), the minimal Louvre Gallery in Lens of France and the sculptural teardrop of Teshima Art Museum (豊島美術館).  At about the same time, he also finished an art gallery in Karuizawa, famous for the undulating gallery floor that resembles the natural terrain and the curvilinear glass enclosure of landscaped lightwells.  Hiroshi Senju Museum of Karuizawa (軽井沢千住博美術館) was the main reason for our Karuizawa day trip out of Tokyo.  Hiroshi Senju (千住博) is a Japanese painting known for his large scale waterfall paintings.  He was the first Asian artist to receive a Honorable Mention at the Venice Biennale in 1995.  Admiring Hiroshi Senju’s landscape paintings in Ryue Nishizawa’s landscape inspired architecture is like seeing art in a minimalist manmade forest in Karuizawa.

1The museum is located out of the tourist area of Karuizawa.  After getting off at the nearest bus stop, we walked a bit along a country road to reach the museum.  A unique white sign greeted us at the museum forecourt.

2Before seeing the white and minimalist main museum building, we passe by another interesting piece of architecture, the panel cladded visitor centre.

3From the parking lot, a winding pathway led us to the entrance of the main museum building.

6We entered the main exhibition space through the transparent entrance vestibule.  From outside, it was impossible to imagine what surprises lie ahead in front of us.

7Once inside, we were immediately captivated by the harmonious relationship between art, architecture and nature.

8Walking on the gently sloping floor of the museum as if strolling on the pre-existing natural terrain of the site.  Even the seating matches the curvilinear forested lightwells inside the exhibition space.

10 Curvilinear glass enclosure of various sizes create a number of naturalistic lightwells or miniature forests.

11Walking between two lightwells felt like wandering through two art installations in a forest.

12Other than the paintings by Hiroshi Senju, the lightwells of the building were definitely unique art pieces for me.

13Back at the main parking lot, the sleek and dark visitor centre expresses a totally different tone.

14While the main museum is all about its nature-inspired interior, the visitor centre contrastingly tells a form-driven design story.

 

 


LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China

Before our trip, a number of people recommended the Long Museum to us.  Designed by a focal firm Atelier Deshaus, the Long Museum is a fine piece of contemporary architecture that has been featured in many design magazines.  Despite our tight schedule in Shanghai, we managed to squeeze in two hours to visit this contemporary art museum at the West Bund of Xuhui.  The riverside promenade of Xuhui district hosts a number of cultural establishments like the Long Museum, and also occasional art events such as the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art.  Along with upcoming developments such as the movie production and entertainment complex – Dream Centre, the once industrial area West Bund of Xuhui is gradually transforming into a lively cultural corridor by the Huangpu River.  The privately-owned art museum near the former Expo ground stands as a proud revelation of Shanghai’s ambitions to boost the local contemporary art scenes.

We arrived at Long Museum in the mid afternoon.  Dozens or so visitors were busy photographing the cherry blossoms in front of the museum.  Others were having fun taking seflies against the backdrop of a well preserved industrial structures, which has now become a significant feature outside the museum.  At the museum’s rear side facing the riverside promenade, locals were enjoying themselves playing badminton and skateboards.  We entered the museum through its main entrance at the side.  Once inside, we were immediately captivated by the high vaulted space of the main exhibition hall.  There is not a single white wall in the museum.  With high volume spaces and half-vaulted ceiling, the museum is like a minimalist concrete cathedral, offering visitors diverse spatial experience, and a sleek atmosphere and backdrop for showcasing contemporary art.

Exhibited in galleries and a number of international biennale around the globe, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is a prominent figure in the art world.  Eliasson creates interesting art installations that often engage spectators through the use of basic elements like water, light or shadows.  We were delighted to see Eliasson’s solo show at the Long Museum.  Playful reflections, shadows, and lighting effects of his pieces did a fine job engaging spectators in multiple ways.  We spent about two hours seeing Eliasson’s exhibition until the museum was about to close its doors.  After the visit, we strolled along the riverside promenade to take in the relax atmosphere.

DSC_1718 Visitors gathered in front of Long Museum to photograph the fine cherry blossoms.

DSC_1725Concrete structure from an old factory is preserved as an exterior feature of Long Museum.

DSC_1764The old structure becomes a local favorite for portrait photography.

DSC_1799The old industrial structure create a beautiful scene of shadows and textures.

DSC_1809Visitors walking beyond the old industrial structure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA visitor and dramatic sunlight casting onto the vaulted concrete wall.

DSC_2097Main exhibition space of Long Museum.

DSC_2092Olafur Eliasson’s installation art took over every wall and corner of Long Museum.

DSC_2079Spectators having fun with their own reflection at one of Eliasson’s piece.

DSC_2062Mirrors are used in many of Eliasson’s pieces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA sphere that allows visitors to enter is a popular piece.

DSC_1858Moving shadows and interesting reflections was a result from lighting effect and a suspended ring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAElegant shadows of an abstract installation.

DSC_1917Visitor and the semi-vaulted ceiling.

DSC_1942Visitors queuing for a glimpse of their own reflection at one of Eliasson’s piece.

DSC_1955A mother photographing her daughter from the other end of the piece.

DSC_1952A room with alternating lighting that changed the hues of wall decorations from black and white to rainbow colours.

DSC_2125The passageway between the old industrial structure and the museum facade made of pour concrete and expanded metal.

DSC_2131Locals having a good time with badminton and skateboards at the back of Long Museum.

DSC_2175The riverside promenade behind Long Museum links the museum with other cultural establishments at the West Bund of Xuhui.

 

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Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
2.0 HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
4.0 SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
9.0 FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
14.0 CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China


POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China

After a morning of the former French Concession, a short taxi ride took us to the former Expo ground by the Huangpu River for an entirely different side of Shanghai.  Opened in 2012, Power Station of Art is China’s first state run contemporary art museum.  Like London’s Tate Modern, the 440,000 sq.ft art museum is housed in a former power station.  We spent about two hours at the art museum.

Upon arrival at the grand hall on the ground floor, we were immediately astounded by the gigantic piece of installation art that involved a life-size train carriage and a number of mounted animals.  The piece belongs to French-Chinese artist Huang Yongping (黄永砯) as the centerpiece of his exhibition, Baton Serpent III: Spur Track to the Left.  On the upper floors, through a retrospective exhibition marking his 60th birthday, we got to know about the magnificent works and tragic life of Datong Dazhang, a Chinese artist from Shanxi Province active in the 1980s and 90s, and eventually committed suicide in the year 2000.  With vivid posters, drawings and videos illustrating renowned architect Bernard Tschumi’s design philosophies, we spent a brief time full of architectural thoughts at Tschumi’s exhibition, Architecture: Concept & Notation.  The last thing we saw before leaving the museum was In the Name of Architecture, a design exhibition by Atelier FCJZ encompassing the studio’s ideas on architecture, fashion, lifestyle, and graphic design.

DSC_1561Built in 1985, the Nanshi Power Station was turned into the Pavilion of Future in 2010’s Shanghai Expo, and subsequently converted into an art museum by Original Design Studio.

DSC_1564Today, the Power Station of Art has become a prominent cultural venue in Shanghai.

DSC_1566The life-size train carriage of Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left.

DSC_1570Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left.

DSC_1582Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left.

DSC_1575Other installation by Huang Yongping’s on the ground floor.

DSC_1577Other installation by Huang Yongping’s on the ground floor.

DSC_1585Other installation by Huang Yongping’s on the ground floor.

DSC_1651Huang Yongping’s Baton Serpent on the second floor.

DSC_1599View of Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left from the third floor.

DSC_1604Huangpu River and the former Expo ground as viewed from the museum’s outdoor terrace.

DSC_1605Outdoor terrace of the Power Station of Art.

DSC_1635Greatly under valued and seen as a social dissident during his lifetime, Shanxi avant-garde artist Datong Dazhang (大同大) lived a harsh life in the 1980s and 90s as an artist who was way ahead of his time.  Entirely self-taught and self initiated, Zhang works ranged from installations, photography, performance art, and drawings.

DSC_1621Datong Dazhang’s Questioning the Weight of Scales.

DSC_1632Datong Dazhang’s The Fear of Math, where pig heads were arranged in an abacus arrangement.

DSC_1634Prohibited from showcasing his art because of political issues, Zhang continued to make art during the 1990s and documented a number of performance arts with zero audience.

DSC_1643Bernard Tschumi’s Architecture: Concept & Notation.

DSC_1653Architectural model at Atelier FCJZ’s In the Name of Architecture.

DSC_1661Cool copper partitions at the entrance of FCJZ’s exhibition on the ground floor.

 

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Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
2.0 HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
4.0 SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
9.0 FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
14.0 CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China


1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China

Located in Hongkou District, Shanghai 1933 was our next destination of the day.  After seeing photographs of this magnificent building on the Internet, I longed to visit Shanghai 1933 since months before our trip.  Built in the year 1933, Shanghai 1933 was purposely designed as a livestock slaughterhouse for the city.  It was designed by British architects, and some of the cement material was also imported from England. Throughout the years, the prewar slaughterhouse had been converted to host other functions.  A few years ago this unique building went through a major restoration and has once again gone through another identity transformation.  This time, it has become a hub of shops, restaurants, event spaces and studios for creative industries, a cool new representative of Shanghai’s creative and commercial scene.

The five-storey concrete building is remarkable both aesthetically and functionally.  The complex is comprised of a circular tower at the centre, and a rectangular ring of chambers around it, with open atrium spaces between the two components.  Narrow footbridges and concrete braces connect the two main components, while ramps and stairs link the levels.  Visually, the complex seems like a concrete labyrinth as if a modern realization of Piranesi’s imaginary prison.  Functionally, the former slaughterhouse is an excellent example of the former meat processing system when cattle was brought into the feeding halls at the outer ring and gradually proceeded upwards via the concrete ramps until reaching the high levels.  Then the animals would cross the narrow footbridges into the central circular tower and advanced through the slaughtering process.

After getting off the taxi, we were immediately attracted by the rich architectural articulations on the building facade and columns.  Reminding us of this highly globalized era, we could see the signage of Starbucks before we even entered the building.  Once inside, we wandered around the atrium spaces to take photographs and gradually worked upwards via its ramp network.  We didn’t pay much attention to the shops.  After strolling for a while,  we sat down at a Sichuan noodle shop and had a late lunch.  After the delicious meal, we wandered for another bit, enjoying ourselves with photographing the unique architectural spaces and also other visitors who came to Shanghai 1933 posing for all sorts of photo shoots.

DSC_1037Signage of 1933 Shanghai at the main entrance.

DSC_1045Interesting architectural articulations are visible everywhere, including the columns at the entrance arcade.

DSC_1059Footbridges at different levels of the complex greatly contribute to the labyrinth feel of the experience.

DSC_1062Visitors walked in the ring of atrium space between the circular tower and the rectangular outer chambers (shops).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWalking up the ramp overlooking a series of narrow stairs (probably for working staff back in the old days).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven the concrete balustrade was created with a sense of organic fluidity.

DSC_1119The round edges of the architecture reminded us of the former streamline slaughtering process.

DSC_1108A narrow bridge linking the circular tower and the outer wing.

DSC_1127A group of children in vivid colours stood out from the monotonous concrete environment.

DSC_1144Watching people enjoying different corners at Shanghai 1933 was delightful.

DSC_1153Watching people enjoying different corners at Shanghai 1933 was delightful.

DSC_1160Some came for their wedding photos.

DSC_1206A few visitors seemed to be models for fashion photography.

DSC_1220Others were simply groups of young people looking for an interesting selfie spot.

DSC_1199We could see either someone was being photographed or someone taking photos of another person almost anywhere at Shanghai 1933.

DSC_1227Looking down from the highest level.

123It was empty inside the circular core tower except some artwork display when we were there.

DSC_1262Footbridges and visitors both provided the most interesting components in any scene of the complex.

DSC_1259Concrete patchworks are visible throughout the complex.

DSC_1270Looking out the main entrance as we exited the complex.

DSC_1282The main facade of Shanghai 1933 as viewed from the canal of Shajing Port.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOther interesting former industrial buildings in the area.

DSC_1290Leaving Shanghai 1933 behind, we found our way to the nearest metro station.

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Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
2.0 HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
4.0 SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
9.0 FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
14.0 CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China


M50, Shanghai, China

After Rockbund Art Museum, we continued our inspiring art journey to M50.  50 Moganshan Road (M50) is a thriving artist community in Shanghai.  Over a hundred artists and artisans have studios at M50, and many are opened to the public.  M50 art community occupies a number of former factory buildings of Chunming Slub Mill.  By around year 2000, artists started to move into the vacant factory buildings because of the affordable rent.  The area gradually developed into one of the most interesting cultural scene in the city.

From Rockbund, we took a taxi to M50.  We were greeted by a few-storey high tower, cladded in silver aluminum panels, that said M50: Suzhou Creek/ Soho/ Loft.  Once inside the M50 area, we felt like we had entered a factory campus with industrial buildings and alleyways and footbridges linking up various building blocks.  We picked a building to enter to check out the artist studios inside, many of which had works displayed.  It wasn’t crowded but visitors like us could be seen all over.  Neatly designed coffee shops and souvenir/ design shops also mushroomed at M50, aiming at the increasing number of outside visitors and tourists.  We hopped from buildings to buildings and had fun in absorbing the causal and artistic atmosphere of M50.

DSC_0824The silver signage tower of M50 at the entrance.

DSC_1024Once inside, it felt like we had entered an industrial campus, except cool signage and LED video screens.

DSC_1026Posters of artist studios were pin up at the entrance of one of the buildings in M50.

DSC_0829Studios and small galleries lined up along both sides of a building in M50.

DSC_0832Window display of a sculpture studio.

DSC_0836Some galleries focus on paintings with local Chinese themes.

DSC_1020A slab opening seemed causally made to accommodate a red staircase in one of the buildings of M50.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHallways in the buildings at M50 are spacious, some of them have high windows to allow natural light into the building.

DSC_0863Human face is the main theme of one of the artists’ works at M50.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOshadai, a neatly decorated cafe / eatery with a causal touch of the countryside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStreet art could be seen all over M50.

DSC_0916An outdoor piece made of signage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA cool coffee shop with fantastic timber structure.

DSC_0983Wall advertisement on the boundary wall of M50.

DSC_0988Even the colour and pattern of a rusty gate look interesting under the sun.

DSC_1000.JPGTree stump art with dragon carving.

DSC_1001Another street art with a local touch.

DSC_1004Under the water tank is another artist studio, which can be accessed by the stair and concrete deck that wraps around the sign “Waiting for You”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA partial replica of Michelangelo’s David with nearby residential development at the background.

DSC_1014The cutest cat sat at the door threshold of a cafe with both of its paws fixed on the saddle.

 

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Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
2.0 HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
4.0 SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
9.0 FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
14.0 CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China


FOLK ART MUSEUM, Xiangshan Campus (象山中心校區), China Academy of Art (中國美術學院), Hangzhou, China

Before we left the Xiangshan campus, we dropped by the new Folk Art Museum.  Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the Folk Art Museum is the latest addition to the campus.  Similar to Wang Shu, Kengo Kuma’s work has long been considered as a contemporary representation of the essence of traditional architecture.  Last year when we were In Tokyo, we visited Kengo Kuma’s Suntory Museum of Art and Nezu Museum, and immediately fell in love with Kengo Kuma’s clever interplay of light and shadow, magnificent treatment of transitional spaces between interior and exterior, poetic arrangement of circulation spaces and contemporary interpretation of traditional Japanese architecture.

The Folk Art Museum at Xiangshan sits against a hill like a series of overlapping parallelograms.  Aligned with Kengo Kuma’s principle “to recover the place”, the spirit of the sloped landscape is carefully maintained with the cascade arrangement and ramp circulation of the building.  Old roof tiles are extensively used as roofing and also an outer screen outside the glass walls of the building.  The tiles serve the purpose as shading device by casting a myriad of floating shadows in the interior.  Their existence provokes a poetic atmosphere made of light and shadow.  Before our trip, we were delighted to find out that the Folk Art Museum would be ready to open its doors two days before our visit.  Unfortunately, when we arrived at its door, all we could see was an empty building with several installation workers inside the building.  All we could do was walk around the building and ascend to the accessible roof via a long flight of exterior stair that penetrates the museum in the middle.

After our visit to Xiangshan, we took the public bus back to Downtown Hangzhou.  We returned to the hotel to pick up our bags, took a taxi to the airport bus station, and hopped onto the bus for Hangzhou International Airport.  When we get off, the yellowish afternoon sun and a banner promoting a new direct flight from Hangzhou to Copenhagen greeted our arrival at the airport.  It wasn’t too busy in the airport concourse and we had plenty of time after checking into the waiting zone, reviewing our photographs in the cameras while waiting for our Dragon Air flight back to Hong Kong.  This concludes our 5-day visit to Anhui and Hangzhou.
1The pathway that leads up to the museum entrance and entrance forecourt.

2After we walked up the stair to the upper part, we reached a platform and a secondary entrance of the museum, and a stair that leads further up to the roof.

3Upper platform of the complex.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA peek into the museum interior from the upper platform.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur reflection on the glass wall of the museum beyond the screen of tiles.

4Dark tiles are clipped with tiny hangers onto the diamond shaped wire system.

5Space between the outer screen of tiles and the inner layer of glass windows.

7Second stair that leads to the upper roof.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView from the upper roof down to the Xiangshan campus and beyond.

8Layers of sloped tiled roofs produce the unique minimalist form that resembles undulating terrain of natural landscape.

11Sometimes, the tiles seem like floating in mid air.

12We were forbidden to visit the museum interior, we had no choice but to return back down to the main campus after a walk around the Folk Art Museum.

DSC_3762It was late afternoon when we arrived at Hangzhou Airport for our flight home to Hong Kong.

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Read other posts on 2015 Anhui and Hangzhou
1. History, Scenery, Architecture, 5-day tour of Anhui and Hangzhou, China
2. Laojie (Old Street), Tunxi, China
3. Hongcun, Anhui, China
4. Xidi, Anhui, China
5. West Sea Canyon, Huangshan, Anhui, China
6. From Monkey Watching the Sea to Welcome Pine, Huangshan, Anhui, China
7. Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
8. Folk Art Museum, Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China

* * *

Read other posts on 2015 Anhui and Hangzhou
1. History, Scenery, Architecture, 5-day tour of Anhui and Hangzhou, China
2. Laojie (Old Street), Tunxi, China
3. Hongcun, Anhui, China
4. Xidi, Anhui, China
5. West Sea Canyon, Huangshan, Anhui, China
6. From Monkey Watching the Sea to Welcome Pine, Huangshan, Anhui, China
7. Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
8. Folk Art Museum, Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China


XIANGSHAN CAMPUS (象山中心校區), China Academy of Art (中國美術學院), Hangzhou, China

The bus ride from Huangshan to Hangzhou took about 4 hours.  By the time we checked into our hotel near West Lake in Hangzhou it was already dinner time.  After a good night of rest for our legs, in the morning we decided to visit the Xiangshan Campus (象山中心校區) of China Academy of Art (中國美術學院) in the outskirt of Hangzhou.  We grabbed a Chinese pork bun and walked to the waterfront promenade by West Lake.  We stood by the waterlilies and finished our simple breakfast.  Soon we walked over to the nearby bus stop and took a local bus heading to the direction of Xiangshan.  The entire bus journey took a little over half a hour.  Contemporary architecture was the reason for our visit to Xiangshan, and was our only major activity planned for our brief stay in Hangzhou.

Wang Shu (王澍), dean of the School of Architecture at China Academy of Art, is one of the most well known Chinese architects.  In 1997, he and his wife Lu Wenyu (陸文宇) found their firm Amateur Architecture Studio.  The couple had been teaching at the School of Architecture at China Academy of Art ever since 2000.  Based in Hangzhou, their works represent a unique critical regionalism, deriving their own architectural character with contemporary reinterpretation of local heritage.  Their most famous works include the Ningbo Museum (2008), and Xiangshan Campus of China Academy of Art near Hangzhou (2007).  After receiving a number of international awards for their effort on redefining contemporary Chinese architecture, in 2012 Wang Shu was rewarded with the Pritzker Prize, which considered to be the highest award in the international architectural industry.

In 1928, China Academy of Art was founded in Hangzhou.  It is the oldest and most famous art school in China.  Today the academy has two campuses in Hangzhou, one right by West Lake at city centre, and a newer one in Xiangshan, at the southwest outskirt of the city.  Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu began the design of Xiangshan Campus in 2002. Many buildings, including a library, a gallery, 6 school buildings, 2 studio buildings, 2 bridges, etc., were completed in 2004. The campus continued to expand until today, and has undoubtedly become one of the most influential projects of Amateur Architecture Studio. The campus presents a good example of Wang and Lu’s design ideology of capturing the spirit of the place and reinventing the Chinese architectural traditions into contemporary uses. Many buildings at Xiangshan were actually built in traditional construction methods, despite the use of modern materials such as glass and metal. Old roof tiles were salvaged from all over the province of Zhejiang and reused at Xiangshan as shading device and wall cladding.

We spent about three hours wandering around the campus, visited about half a dozen of buildings before heading back to the city.

1Reclaimed material is always a major component in Wang’s and Lu’s projects.  At Xiangshan, reclaimed roof tiles and wood panels can be seen all over.

2Courtyards, a essential component in traditional Chinese architecture, also have a vital role at Xiangshan as much of student life happen in these enclosed open spaces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA peek into the sculpture hall.

4 Footbridges connect many buildings in Xiangshan.  This is one of the interestingly designed pedestrian bridge that crosses a small canal, and has been temporarily turned into an open air exhibition space for students’ art pieces.

5Old roof tiles from all over the province are reused here as horizontal shading device.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe library complex is consisted of two buildings with contrasting facade treatment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARamp is a major design element in the campus.  In some cases, the upper levels can be accessible for scooters and bikes.

8Despite the overall brutal finishes and craftsmanship, Wang’s and Lu’s design concepts have successfully created interesting architecture out of traditional Chinese architecture and Modernist design approaches.

9In a number of the buildings, exterior circulation has become a main facade feature.  Though in some cases, the circulation route would be in conflict with window openings.

10Depending on the slope, some of the exterior circulation route are actually steps.

11The wood and stone guesthouse and restaurant building is a recent addition to the campus.

12The interplay of walls cladded with different stones is covered by a large roof.  With a natural touch, the underside of the roof is dominated by the heavy use of timber trusses and bamboo mats.

13There is a water pond in front of the School of Architecture area, encompassing three major buildings with distinct architectural treatments.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASimilar to the Ningbo Museum, reclaimed bricks and tiles are used to clad outer walls.

15Like traditional Chinese architecture, tranquil courtyards give another dimension to the buildings in Xiangshan, where the boundary between exterior and interior remains loose.

16Irregular opening on concrete walls represents another design approach, framing unique views for users in the buildings.

17Reclaimed wood panels serve well as a backdrop for sculpture display.

18Distinct brise-soleil of the two School of Architecture buildings: concrete vertical fins and masonry cross openings, create a coherent atmosphere for the exterior forecourt where the flanking contrasting textures complement each other.

19Entrance to one of the School of Architecture building: Bricks are used to form a perforated skin. The word “TOMORROW” is highlighted on the wall surface by filling in the wall openings with glass bottles, like a pin art effect.

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Read other posts on 2015 Anhui and Hangzhou
1. History, Scenery, Architecture, 5-day tour of Anhui and Hangzhou, China
2. Laojie (Old Street), Tunxi, China
3. Hongcun, Anhui, China
4. Xidi, Anhui, China
5. West Sea Canyon, Huangshan, Anhui, China
6. From Monkey Watching the Sea to Welcome Pine, Huangshan, Anhui, China
7. Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
8. Folk Art Museum, Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China