Neri&Hu designs Junshan Cultural Center amid rolling hills outside Beijing

Shanghai-based Neri&Hu uses the existing structure’s Chinese courtyard typology as it transforms a former office space near Beijing into a place for art and culture.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Mar 05, 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.

  • Rolling hills, meandering rivers and a verdant terrain compose the context of Junshan Cultural Center  | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    Rolling hills, meandering rivers and a verdant terrain compose the context of Junshan Cultural Center Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute
  • Aluminium louvers offset the reclaimed brick façade of the building | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    Aluminium louvers offset the reclaimed brick façade of the building Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute

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.

06 mins watch A peek into the space designed by Neri&Hu | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
A peek into the space designed by Neri&Hu Video Credit: Courtesy of Neri&Hu

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.

  • Geometric cuts within the ceiling filter natural light inside the spaces | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    Geometric cuts within the ceiling filter natural light inside the spaces Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute
  • The lounge space enjoys views of the outside space | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    The lounge space enjoys views of the outside space Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute
  • The sculpturesque art gallery | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    The sculpturesque art gallery Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute
  • 100-person capacity multi-purpose hall for cultural events  | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    100-person capacity multi-purpose hall for cultural events Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute

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.

  • A top-down view of the courtyard | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    A top-down view of the courtyard Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute
  • Roof deck overlook views of the surrounding mountains | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    Roof deck overlooking views of the surrounding mountains Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute
  • A view of the courtyard  | Junshan Cultural Center | Neri&Hu | STIRworld
    Trees and various artworks dot the landscape of the courtyard Image Credit: Pedro Pegenaute

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.

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