by Anmol AhujaDec 30, 2020
In the Miyun Reservoir region outside of Beijing, where mountains, rivers and lush greenery takes centerstage, architectural firm Neri&Hu has designed a clubhouse and sales center for a Chinese developer. Called the Junshan Cultural Center, the project reflects an ingenious transformation of a former two-story 'donut shaped' building into a contemporary office and arts space that merge harmoniously with nature.
Architects Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu have kept intact the traditional Chinese courtyard typology of the older building. In addition, features like gardens and reflecting ponds around the built mass have been created to reveal a network of interconnected paths, designed distinctly for clubhouse members and sales center guests.
“The building quietly rises out of the water as a brick mass with carved out spaces," says the Shanghai-based studio. On the façade, wooden patterned aluminium louvers offset the reclaimed brick structure, forming a veil that beautifully softens the heaviness of the brick.
Upon entering the building, one arrives at a double height atrium, which hosts the reception and the lounge space. A sculpted ceiling with a large but inconspicuous opening and various other geometric cuts filter light inside. The litany of these cuts creates a visible drama as each space takes on a different look when light reflects off the venetian plaster.
The programming of the building by Neri&Hu has been done in a manner that each space is near to nature. Some of the facilities include a hall with a capacity of 100 people, a library, children’s reading room, a family media room, a lounge bar and a roof-top deck. One intriguing space within the cultural center is the art gallery that features a series of suspended walls revealing a flexible system for display.
Glazed openings within these spaces unite the interiors back to the outside, framing stunning views of the courtyard. The materiality is kept in sync with the rustic nature of the site and the pared back office-space requirements. However, the architects have made sure the building connects as much with the contemporary audience as it remains nourished in its traditional Chinese values. "The layering of customised furniture, refined brass metal details, natural veins of stone accents, softness of the fabric and delicate lighting elements work together to compose a sense of understated luxury," adds Neri&Hu.
Outside, the tranquil enclosure of the courtyard brings art within its reclaimed confines. Trees and various artifacts dot the landscape, creating small pockets within the large complex.
As one walks through the Junshan Cultural Center, uninterrupted views of the distant mountains merge with the meditative architecture, unifying the goal of the client and the architects.