“It’s about creating a dialogue between us as humanity and as nature,” Lee said in a video interview.
Chapel of Sound, a concert hall built in a valley northeast of Beijing. Credit: Courtesy Ni Nan / Open
The couple’s latest project is one example. Nestled in a valley northeast of Beijing, a stone’s throw from the Great Wall, the boulder-like Chapel of Sound looks as if it has been carved out of the landscape itself. The architects added local rocks to the concrete and mimicked sedimentary layers to help the structure assimilate with its surroundings.
Although envisioned as a place for quiet contemplation – or “a chapel without religion,” as Lee put it – the building is primarily a concert hall. Instead of traditional soundproofing, Lee and Huang opted for strategically placed holes that, they claim, play a similar role as absorbent surfaces.
The openings also serve two very different functions: creating plays of light and shadow that travel into the interior of the caves as the sun moves through the sky; And giving in to the sounds of the wind, birds and insects. While it may seem counterintuitive to have a quiet concert, the architects were never interested in creating “a complete silence”.
Another view of the Chapel of Sound. Credit: Courtesy Jonathan Legionhoo / Open
“We’re really trying to make a deeper connection to the ancient natural history of the site,” Lee said. “Space has a mystical quality, and mysteriousness is something we’re very interested in: bringing people in search of a different kind of experience.”
more than sights
UCCA Dune, a new outpost for one of Beijing’s most respected contemporary art institutions, takes on the appearance of pebbles strewn across a sandy beach. Primordial, cave-like gallery spaces are not only integrated with their surroundings – they are partially submerged by them.
Photogenic design has helped make Qinhuangdao an unlikely destination for design-lovers and day-trippers from the Chinese capital. And while Li and Huang seem indecisive by nature, they are acutely aware of the power of iconic architecture.
UCCA Dune, an art museum in the coastal city of Qinhuangdao. Credit: Courtesy Zay Studio / Open
In China, this is a power that has been abused in recent years – by property giants branding real estate developments with outlandish skyscrapers, and local authorities using big-budget cultural buildings to map their cities. to keep on. But, citing the Sydney Opera House as an example, Lee believes that well-designed arts venues can give cities a distinct identity while contributing to their cultural fabric.
what open architecture Is As opposed to, he said, landmarks are for landmarks. This stance could put the pair at odds with their clients, such as when officials from Yantai in Shandong province approached them with an invitation to “build an iconic landmark.”
Rather than walk away, Lee said he persuaded the city government to develop a more meaningful cultural program. Ultimately satisfied that their creation would serve a purpose, the architectural duo designed a Sundial-inspired structure – called The Sun Tower and set for completion in 2023 – that would house a library, digital museum and outdoor theater.
“I think it’s a huge waste of resources to build something without knowing what it is,” Lee said.
A digital rendering of the Sun Tower in Yantai, Shandong Province. Credit: Courtesy Open
“There’s a big push for cultural buildings,” she said. “(In China, we) feel like we’ve developed really fast, but have left ourselves behind and need to catch up to show the world that we have culture. But developing culture Tricky… why do you see a lot of cultural buildings pop up without material and no one to operate them.”
Such accusations could not be leveled against Open Architecture’s Tank Shanghai, a gallery that breathed new life into the site of a decommissioned airport by the Huangpu River. Built across five repurposed fuel tanks, the venue offers not only gallery spaces but also a pub, a restaurant, and performance facilities. Landscape parks meanwhile dissolve the distinction between public and private space, high culture and entertainment.
Tank Shanghai was built into a series of disused aviation fuel tanks. Credit: Courtesy Tian Fengfang / Open
Offering community parkland was not just a gesture to the city – it expressed the idea that art should not be separated from everyday life.
“The purpose of cultural buildings is to try to convince people, but nowadays they are becoming more like isolated objects,” Lee said. “Art is placed (on a pedestal). We want to bring it closer to the ground – for the people – and blur the boundaries.”
This trend appears in the early 2000s and at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA), a giant, shiny oval known locally as “The Giant Egg”. Just a few blocks from the historic Forbidden City, French architect Paul Andreu’s controversial futuristic building sparked a wave of Western-designed landmarks and, in Li’s words, began a “whole exercise” of building “iconic buildings” in China. .
It is also a place that directly shaped the approach to open architecture. Once in for a concert, Lee finds himself in a long search for water during the intermission, eventually finding only one place “in the whole vast space” to get a drink. A small catch, of course, but one that they felt was lacking in a user-centered design.
As a comparison, Lee recalled a recent visit to Germany’s “fantastic” Berliner Philharmonie concert hall: “The break was half an hour, and it was like a party. It was a great social event. That’s the real one.” The aim is cultural building: bringing people together, not just listening to music, while you can’t even find water.”
One of the cave-like galleries at UCCA Doon. Credit: Courtesy Wu Qingshan / Open
“Of course, being Chinese, we have our own ways of looking at our relationship to nature and the universe,” Huang said. “But instinctively we’re looking for something more timeless.”
“We often get this question from customers and students who say, ‘Your building doesn’t look very Chinese, where are the connections?’” Li said. “That’s because we believe in a very deep sense of, and are deeply related to, culture.
“There are two qualities of architecture that are deeply important,” he summarized. “A radicalization is happening. We need something that will fundamentally change the way we live, and this is more urgent than ever.
“The other thing is poetry. The poetic quality of architecture is so important. It’s something you must personally experience by walking through space, touching surfaces, and feeling textures.”
Credit : www.cnn.com