De-palacing the Capital – Academy and Museum Experiment

How does one (or who?) build down or around Beijing’s exhausted design intuition of rebuilt castle-palace?

Finding a counterpoint template for entry and entryway space (so darkly prohibitive in late-dynastic architecture) is I think at the heart of the problem.

Finding a way to convey majestic (and engineeringly ingenious) loft without yet more requotation of the ancien regime’s hipped-gable, flying-eaved superstructure – also an appurtenance of the fortress template – is the other issue that must eventually be creatively and aesthetically addressed.

The structures documented in these collages are still in-progress ideas about an answer. But they are not random examples of alternatives plucked from the internet’s overpopulated collection of travel come-ons, or of adverts for progress and of course RMB. What is of particular interest is that they are studios writ large, and that they were thought into existence by a father-son team self-consciously launching a pedigree: Zhang Kaiji and Zhang Yonghe.

1. Zhang Kaiji National History Museum 1958 (top) from outside looking in
2. Ibid, from inside looking out
3. Zhang Yonghe, glass wall for CASS Morningside Lecture Tower (1998)
4. Zhang Yonghe, architect’s drawing full view of Morningside Hall (1998)

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