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Penda's HongKun Art Gallery, Beijing: A Wave for Art

Posted by
on May 19, 2015 at 12:12 PM

A simple yet graceful art gallery in Beijing, designed by young firm Penda, draws our attention this time. Young and full of fresh ideas, ‘Penda’ is the cross-continental firm of Chinese architect Dayong Sun and Austrian architect Chris Precht. Having offices at Beijing and Vienna, this international design firm borrows from their different cultural perspectives to use and interpret their varying fundamentals to build an integrated cross cultural design language. They work with the belief that ‘architecture serves as a bridge to connect nature, culture and people’. Their architecture, they believe, must serve as a constant in today’s fast changing world, a slow and steady force to counter the ‘faster, higher’ pulse of today’s consumerist society. Basically, theirs is a differently worded statement reflecting the same argument in favour of sustainability in all facets being echoed the world over today. The results of this eclectic mix are wonderfully innovative, yet harmonious, simple and graceful edifices, definitely built to last a few generations. If architecture, as the quote goes, is frozen music then Penda’s got its poetry right. Their portfolio includes works in architecture, interiors, graphic design, product design, installations and urban design, 

© Courtesy of Internet Resources

The Gallery

An imposing yet starkly simple white monolith on the facade heralds one into the gallery, which is located in south Beiing, through an arched doorway. This arch at the entrance is the prelude to a virtual procession of arches, of varied orientations, that lead you through the various spaces in the gallery. A window with an under-arch next to a wall with a doorway with an over arch, leading inside to a staircase tucked behind a translucent glazed, under-arched window, which is followed by another over-arched doorway...and so on. This succession of arches forms a wave flowing through the entire gallery and spontaneously leading the patrons through various display spaces. The walls are finished in smooth and pure white paint, allowing the eye to concentrate on the displayed artworks. Also, the monochrome lends continuity to the arches to blend into each other into a continuous ribbon.

The entrance houses an information desk, a cloakroom and a staircase, other than ways leading to display halls at the same level. The stairs lead visitors to a basement housing a special exhibition hall and the employees to a mezzanine office. The clean, white walls in the rest of the gallery offer a clutter-free display space while the procession of arches draws the spectators into the display spaces leading them to explore the artworks.

The series of arches of alternating orientations interpret the Chinese landscape of hills and vales, depicted in the paintings on display. Penda has, as always, successfully borrowed from cross cultural ethos, histories and environments to blend them into a homogenous and harmonious architectural interpretation.

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