National Art Museum of China

Beijing, China, 2012 / Unbuilt

Located along a prominent cultural axis in Beijing, the competition scheme for the National Art Museum of China is an extroverted expression of the 21st-century museum: transparent, inviting, and visible to the city. The proposed museum houses a multi-story stack of galleries that visitors discover as a sequence of chambers, recalling the history of Dunhuang and the Mogao Caves filled with well-preserved painting and sculpture along the historic Silk Road.

The National Museum is very large and requires a clear organizational structure to facilitate good orientation to visitors, and simple efficient operations. The museum is designed as linear public circulation terraces, which face west toward Beijing’s Olympic axis and provide views of the river and surrounding institutions. As in Mogao, the museum’s galleries are experienced as a string of chambers in which the visitor always returns to the western cliff, overlooking the valley, for orientation.

From the galleries, visitors circulate into a grand public space of landscaped terraces. These are designed in the tradition of Chinese landscapes and gardens-full of surprising juxtapositions of plants, water, and sculpture.

A spanning glass roof unifies the museum, which is part of the larger ensemble of public cultural landmarks on the skyline.

The terracing organizing of the building fits three levels of galleries above grade, shaped along a great crescent. The crescent is anchored on one end by an entry hall and on the other by a Great Hall event space. The 'cliff side' is modulated by terraced walkways and connecting stairways ascending toward a rooftop garden plateau. The upper levels of the building, above the galleries, are filled with office spaces for Museum staff.

The museum is connected to the surrounding public transit lines below grade, and to a retail mall that is planned for the future.

Along the central axis of the building is a crossing pedestrian way connecting across the site which allows the public to cross the building without entering the gallery halls.

The gardens of the museum offer additional space for sculpture exhibition and display of large scale works.

View to multi-story gallery rooms.

View to public park.