International architectural practice Büro Ole Scheeren has completed work on the Guardian Art Center in Beijing, China, a new hybrid cultural institution billed as the world’s first custom-built auction house.
Located at the edge of the capital’s Forbidden City, the blocky building’s design was inspired by its site, combining both elements of the old and new. Its lower portion is formed by a series of nested stone cubes whose scale match the surrounding traditional hutong courtyard houses, while a cantilevering glass box made from windows arranged in a brick pattern comprises the upper volume—a nod to the capital’s growing global presence.
A dynamic smattering of circular lenses perforates the center’s bottom half, clad in gray basalt stone, whose pixellation calls to mind the firm’s other high-profile project, the MahaNakhon tower in Bangkok, Thailand. These tiny windows lend the hefty structure a penetrative touch while paying homage to the work of 14th-century painter Huang Gongwang.
Contained within the space are multiple programs, including museum-quality galleries, state-of-the-art conservation facilities, as well as public, community-facing resources like a restaurant, hotel, flexible event spaces, and integrated public transport infrastructure.
In a press release, principal Ole Scheeren (formerly a partner at OMA) described Guardian Art Center as more than a museum:
It’s not a hermetic institution, but rather an acknowledgement of the hybrid state of contemporary culture. It is a Chinese puzzle of interlocking cultural spaces and public functions that fuse art and culture with events and lifestyle.
The galleries are currently open to the public. Take a closer look here.