by Jincy IypeApr 01, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
Architect: 123 Architects
Location: Beijing, China
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)