Architecture Art Culture Public Institution

Circular form of He Art Museum by Tadao Ando pays nod to traditional Chinese architecture

January 23, 2020

Tadao Ando Architect & Associates has revealed the firm’s design for He Art Museum (HEM), the first art museum dedicated to southern China’s regional Lingnan culture. It’s scheduled to open on March 21, 2020 with an inaugural exhibition curated by Feng Boyi, titled From The Mundane World.

Located in Shunde, Guangdong province in southern China, HEM, established by He Jianfeng, will be home to the private collection of the He family’s extensive art collection, comprising over 400 artworks and commissions by renowned international and Chinese artists. The Art Museum will also include a Cantonese opera with theatrical face painting and Cantonese cuisine.

“I want to create a museum that can synthesise southern China’s rich diverse cultures that stretches many millennia and the influences that birthed Lingnan architecture. I imagined HEM as an energetic central anchor point to all the artistic and regional custom, climate, landscape and civilization in Lingnan. I hope HEM can become the heart of Lingnan culture, not just in Shunde but the whole of Greater China. I look forward to seeing the artworks and programmes activating the building, stimulating provoking thoughts with high-quality spaces and art.” – Tadao Ando

Drawing inspiration from the local architectural and cultural context, Tadao Ando imagined a place of harmony. In fact, the self-taught architect, based his conceptual approach on “ancient Chinese cosmology, philosophy, western style’s use of light and Lingnan’s terrain”. This reflects in aspects such as prominent natural light, flowing from the central “sky well” to the exhibition spaces. With its circular form, the atrium that hosts two double-helix staircases “gives a nod to the traditional Chinese architectural principles and creates a modern interpretation that can reinvigorate architectural heritage from both the east and west”.

Replicating the waterside pavilions found in the Lingnan’s heritage, the architect created a pond that wraps the building and marks the entrance path. Moreover, all the exhibition spaces are circular, except for the square gallery on the ground floor that includes an open plan bookstore and a café. The project holds a 300m2 flexible education space. HEM is served by the Guangzhou South High-Speed Rail station and is situated in proximity to four international airports.

Images courtesy of HEM

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