Competition 2004 – 1st Prize
Design Meinhard von Gerkan and Stephan Schuetz with Stephan Rewolle and Doris Schaeffler
Project leaders Matthias Wiegelmann, Patrick Pfleiderer
Chinese partner practice CABR
Client The National Museum of China
Construction period 2005–2010
Gross floor area 192,000 m²
Page 84 gmp
Page 85 Christian Gahl
Page 86/87 Christian Gahl
Page 88/89 Christian Gahl
How is it possible to respect a monumental architectural pattern language with a rich tradition and at the same time to translate it into a more moderate architecture? This question arises as part of the task of linking the existing northern and southern wings of the Chinese National Museum in Beijing at Tiananmen Square into a cohesive building complex – while sacrificing the center building. Because simply extending the already huge museum by perpetuating the existing tradition of the monumental style without any filter would result in a questionable – because exaggerated – overall aesthetic. And that would also be contrary to a tradition that wants to impress, because a questionable aesthetic never achieves such an aim in any tradition.
A 260 meter long hall provides access to the new complex. It widens out in the center and thereby establishes a relationship between the square and the portal of the existing building. The newly created “forum” serves as foyer and multi-functional venue which provides access to all functions relevant to the public.
Today, with its 192,000 sqm, the Museum is one of the largest in the world. However, in spite of its size, the Museum does not feel intimidating. With its brightness, the building emphasizes its public character, which is further supported by the harmonious dialogue between the white granite, the coffered ceiling and the brown timber cladding in the gallery. The rather simpler design of the parapets on the new buildings is another example of how it is possible to tone down the tradition of the monumental in a responsible way.