German architects bring modern touch to historic site in China
China’s laudable spending spree on cultural institutions continues apace. One of the latest entries is the recently completed National Art Museum in Jiangsu Province, China by German firm KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten.
Located in the on a 10,605 sq m site in Nanjing's cultural center and in the immediate proximity of the historic Presidential Palace of the provincial capital, the new 27,449sq m Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum is new addition to the cultural network of southeast China. It has space for temporary exhibitions and houses a permanent collection featuring traditional Chinese art, which illustrates the cultural wealth of Nanjing – one of the oldest cities in southern China. The sizeable collection resides in the museum’s archive rooms, which meet current technical and strict conservation requirements. This is KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten's second significant cultural building in China, having previously completed the National Library of China in Beijing.
The eye-catching new museum, which won first prize in a 2006 competition, makes several urban references from its deeply historical location. The main entrance faces the prominent city plaza, Daxing Gong Shi Min Square. In addition, the two structures of the museum that stand at slight angles to one another follow the two flanking thoroughfares: Zhongshan (Revolution) Road, and Changjiang (Culture) Road.
A light glass roof covers the two interlocking U-shaped buildings. This 17-metre high access area, which narrows at its two main entrances, links the two stone halves of the building and guides visitors into the Museum. In the northern building, clear exhibition rooms of varying sizes offer ideal conditions for presenting artworks. Two bridges spanning the glass-covered intermediate space connect the exhibition area with the southern element. In addition to training, conference and office space, this building also contains a VIP area and the auditorium with seating for 400 people.
The travertine natural stone facing with its narrow window indentations obscures the sheer number of storeys and reinforces the overall monolithic impression of the museum. Simultaneously, the alternation between vertical stone panels and window slits with sheet metal jutting out at the sides creates rhythm to the façade. The structural frame and the delicate construction of the glass roof were developed in collaboration with Stuttgart-based German engineers Breuninger.