National Museum of China

Beijing, China

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

Picture credit

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.



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