123 Architects transform factory into photography studio ‘Masquerade’ in China

Renovated from an old factory in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, the photography studio’s organic facade and colourful interiors give its structure a futuristic persona.

by STIRworld Published on : Oct 01, 2020

An old industrial building near Beijing’s thriving 798 Art Zone has been revamped into a double-storeyed photography atelier, retaining the former factory’s aesthetic. The studio ‘Masquerade’ was designed by 123 Architects in Qikeshu, a district that possesses several movie and photography studios accommodated within old brick factories.

The spatial layout of the studio compliments and contrasts the original building | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
The spatial layout of the studio compliments and contrasts the original building Image: Courtesy of 123 Architects

Contrasting yet complimenting the vintage industrial atmosphere of the locality, the design takes a futuristic leap with its materials, architectural details and design elements. Outfitted with an organic facade, the history of the building is thinly veiled by newer additions, evoking a surreal character to the building.

The 480 sqm building has been schemed to mimic an art gallery, inviting visitors to interact with the space as well as one another. Sensory stimulations in the design offer visitors an explorative experience in the studio. The top-storey hosts as a social meeting space for VIPs, expanding the ground floor studio’s function and activities.

Sensory stimulations offer visitors an explorative experience | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
Sensory stimulations offer visitors an explorative experience Image: Courtesy of 123 Architects

The remodelled facade creates visual interest that lures visitors in from the street, hinting at the spatial treatment of the interiors. Bringing the existing structural framework into play, the facade incorporates the materiality of brick. The texture of the brick shines through a polished coat of silver paint, reminiscent of the building’s past life. The curved surface harmonises with the existing domed windows and forms space for a balcony that extends from the second floor.

  • The remodelled facade lures visitors in from the street | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The remodelled facade lures visitors in from the street Image: Jin Weiqi
  • The new facade forms space for a second-floor balcony | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The new facade forms space for a second-floor balcony Image: Jin Weiqi

Echoing the approach to the building, the entrance lobby is a vaulted space that distinguishes itself from the exposed industrial ceiling above. The fluted surface of the walls recalls the architectural details of classical columns. Soft light is emitted from a star-shaped pendant light that hangs at the centre of the lobby, anchoring the warm interior design. The orange lobby leads into a bare white reception room that functions as a lounge, featuring a more restrained design composed of sharp right angles.

  • The vaulted lobby distinguishes itself from the exposed industrial ceiling | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The vaulted lobby distinguishes itself from the exposed industrial ceiling Image: Jin Weiqi
  • The white reception space is composed of sharp right angles | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The white reception space is composed of sharp right angles Image: Jin Weiqi

The photo studio is more predictably designed with a white double-height space that visually and spatially connects to the second-floor balcony of the workspace. The functionality of the space is flexibly designed, allowing it to extend into the entrance lobby on drawing a set of dividing curtains. A dining area perceived as an exhibition space is adorned with lights and mirrors in picture frames to mimic an art gallery.

  • The white double-height photo studio connects to the balcony| Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The white double-height photo studio connects to the balcony Image: Jin Weiqi
  • The dining area mimics an art gallery with its lights and framed mirrors | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The dining area mimics an art gallery with its lights and framed mirrors Image: Jin Weiqi

Upstairs, a circular-shaped lounge dominates the space intended for VIPs, with luxurious fabrics cut into graphic shapes casing the walls. Custom sofas that span the length of the room offer plentiful amounts of seating. An installation on the ceiling of convex traffic mirrors commands visitors’ attention in the room.

An installation of convex traffic mirrors commands visitors’ attention | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
An installation of convex traffic mirrors commands visitors’ attention Image: Jin Weiqi

From the lounge, one can access the VIP makeup room, designed in an aesthetic that 123 Architects calls ‘intergalactic minimalism’. Lights are scattered across the walls like constellations and a built-in dressing table presents a scalloped edge that models a cloud formation. The adjacent narrow, over-sized bathroom is punctuated by an installation of mirror balls, the silver colour and reflective qualities adding an ethereal dimension to the space.

  • The VIP makeup room is designed in ‘intergalactic minimalism’ | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The VIP makeup room is designed in ‘intergalactic minimalism’ Image: Jin Weiqi
  • The VIP bathroom is punctuated by an installation of mirror balls | Masquerade by 123 Architects | STIRworld
    The VIP bathroom is punctuated by an installation of mirror balls Image: Jin Weiqi

The avant-garde design of the new studio holds on to its past, creating a new dialogue for the original factory building to express itself through, and embodying a bold statement within the unique architectural style of the 798 Art Zone.

Project Details

Name: Masquerade
Architect: 123 Architects
Location: Beijing, China
Year: 2019
Built Area: 480sqm / 2 floors
Founder and Principal: Kazushi Miyamoto
Project team: Cao Xiyangzi (project architect), Aisha Wang
Contractor: Beijing Zhenbangyuanjing Decoration Engineering Co., Ltd

(Text by Ankitha Gattupalli, intern at stirworld.com)

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