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BUILDING
 
 
National Museum of China
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DESIGNER
 
 
gmp - von Gerkan, Marg und Partner
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DESCRIPTION
 
GMP von Gerkan Marg Chinese National Museum BeijingThe conversion and extension of the Chinese National Museum combines the former Chinese History Museum with the Chinese Revolutionary Museum. Completed in 1959 as one of ten important public buildings in Tian’anmen Square, in direct proximity to the Forbidden City, the museum still constitutes a milestone in history of modern Chinese architecture.

Outline schemes for the conversion and extension project were invited from ten international architectural firms, the proposal by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) together with CABR of Beijing being adjudged preferred bidder, ahead of Foster and Partners, Kohn Pedersen Fox, OMA and Herzog & de Meuron etc.

GMP von Gerkan Marg Chinese National Museum BeijingThe original submission by gmp envisaged gutting the existing museum. The central block would be removed, and the large space thereby created spanned by a bronze flying roof linking the old building and the extension. The flying roof was planned to house the main exhibition on Chinese history, with a direct view towards the sights of the city. Following a discussion with the client and Chinese architectural experts, this scheme was revised, with the aim of integrating more of the external impact of the old building in the new building, though without abolishing the immediately obvious distinction between old and new. This would allow the building itself to illustrate the continuity of history.

The task was to combine the northern and southern wings into an integral complex of buildings by removing the central structure to make the Chinese National Museum.
The 260m (850ft)-long hall acts as its central access area. It widens in the centre to embrace the existing central front entrance facing Tian’anmen Square. The ‘forum’ thus created acts as a vestibule and multifunctional events area, with all auxiliary service functions for the public attached – cafes and teahouses, bookshops and souvenir shops, and ticket offices and toilets.

GMP von Gerkan Marg Chinese National Museum BeijingThe classic tripartite division of China’s historical buildings governs the design of the ‘forum’ as well. A stone base serves as a platform for a wooden structure, with a coffered roof structure resting on a DCB layer on top of it. Despite the vastness of the ‘forum’, a homely atmosphere was sought, particularly in the harmonious use of materials – local granite on the ground floor and walls of the base layer and wooden cladding in the gallery area.

The main entrance of the museum continues to be oriented towards the west, but, for the first time, the north and south entrances are linked via the ‘forum’. This space helps visitors to orientate, and all public areas of the almost 200,000 m2 (2,066 m sq. ft) building are accessed from here.
The dimensions of the ‘forum’ also relate to the sheer size of Tian’anmen Square and the size of the building itself. Around 8–10m people a year are expected to visit the National Museum. The architectural shape of the space is a contemporary interpretation of traditional elements of Chinese buildings. This is already evident in the west courtyard, accessed via broad steps reminiscent of the steps in front of the temple precincts in the Forbidden City just round the corner.

GMP von Gerkan Marg Chinese National Museum BeijingThe western entrance of the existing building, the Mengguobao facing Tian’anmen Square, is notable for its series of slender pillars, linked with each other by an entablature on the pattern of temple and palace architecture, with the roof structure resting on it. The west facade of the new building is planned analogously, the ‘dougong’ resting on its supports and carrying a prominent projecting roof. In historical Chinese architecture, the ‘dougong’ is a slightly projecting feature of bearings and joist ends.

The materiality of the roof, which in the Forbidden City and the existing building consisted of glazed roofing shingle in imperial yellow, is re-interpreted with slightly curved, bronze-coloured metal plates. This meant the flighted roof typologies of the buildings in Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City were continued in the new building, yet interpreted in a contemporary fashion in the detail and materials.

GMP von Gerkan Marg Chinese National Museum BeijingThe entrance doors to the new buildings consist of perforated bronze plates that filter incidental daylight and thus produce a muted atmosphere in the interior, such as is peculiar to traditional Chinese buildings with their ornamented window shutters. The motif of perforation was inspired by an ancient bronze panelone of the prize items among the one million works of art that make up the National Museum collection. This ornamentation also recurs in the forming of the balustrades in the interiors of the museum.

GMP von Gerkan Marg Chinese National Museum BeijingThe north wing facing Chang’an Avenue contains the exhibition relating to the modern history of China, while the south wing houses the administration and library. In the new building, the main exhibition areas are distributed over four superimposed stories north and south of the central hall, where state receptions, banquets and similar events are held. Below the central hall is a cinema and a theater, an events room with fixed tiered seating installed, in which not only lectures but – with the planned acoustics – also classical concerts and other stage-based events can be performed. The base level and basements contain the museum’s workshops and laboratories, depositories and underground garage.

The harmonious use of materials in the interiors – wood, stone and glass – is found throughout the building, creating a natural feeling of identity and familiarity. Rooms of special significance are emphasized by the use of differentiated materials. Thus the central hall opposite the main west entrance and the theater are given red wall coverings that improve the acoustics. The Jade Hall above the ‘forum’ is notable for its backlit cast glass plates made of recycled material.

The 191,900 m2 National Museum is the largest museum in the world, its purpose being to act as a showcase for the history and art of one of the oldest cultures of mankind.
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MATERIALS
 
stone, steel, glass, wood

Exterior
Light Chinese granite stone, sparkling steel and glass facade

Interior
Light Chinese granite stone, black cherry panelling, sparkling and bronze-coloured aluminium cladding, patinated bronze, red fabric

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LOCATION
 
Continent
Asia
Nation
China [Zhōngguó/Zhōnghuá]
Municipality
Beijing
Town
Beijing
Address
Tian‘anmen Square, Chang'an Avenue
 
 
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MAP
 
 
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TYPOLOGY
 
Main
ARCHITECTURE
Museums and buildings for exhibitions
Art museums
History museums
Ethnographic museums
Additional
ARCHITECTURE
Buildings for recreational activities
Auditoriums and music centres
Cinemas
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CHRONOLOGY
 
Project
2004 - 2006     project winner of limited competiton
Realisation
2007 - 2011
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BIBILIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES
 
 
Aric Chen, "National Museum of China, Beijing. gmp architects", Architectural Record 2/2012, february 2012 [Renovation, adaptation, addition], pp. 66-69
"China tales .2", Casabella 807, novembre/november 2011, pp. 30-83
Federico Bucci, Matteo Vercelloni, "Old City, New Towns", Casabella 807, novembre/november 2011, pp. 30-33 (30-83)

"Old City", Casabella 807, novembre/november 2011, pp. 30-43 (30-83)
"gmp. Museo nazionale cinese. Pechino, Cina", Casabella 807, novembre/november 2011, pp. 34-43 (30-43)
Marco Biagi, "Il “museo più grande del mondo” tra memoria e propaganda", Casabella 807, novembre/november 2011, pp. 34-43 (30-43)
"Von Gerkan & Marg. Museo Nacional de China, Pekín/National Museum of China, Beijing", AV Monographías/Monographs 109-110, IX-XII 2004 [China Boom], "Legión extranjera/Foreign Legion" pp. 112-113
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CLIENT
 
 
National Museum of China
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AMOUNT
 
 
¥ 2,500,000,000 - $ 380,000,000
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DIMENSIONAL
DATA
 
Surface
total sq.m. 191,900
existing building sq.m. 35,000
new space sq.m. 156,900

forum sq.m. 8,840

auditorium/cinema sq.m. 300
Dimensions
m. 330 x 204

forum m. 260 x 34
Floors
7 (5 above ground, 2 below)
Number
exhibition space: 49 rooms
Consistence
Size of exhibition rooms 500–2,000 m2
Height of exhibition rooms 5.25–12 m
Height
m. 27
Capacity
  • the National Museum can accommodate up to 19,000 visitors at once
  • up to 30,000 people a day can visit the National Museum
  • the Forum can hold up to 14,000 visitors at once
  • the National Museum owns over a million exhibits
  • over ten thematic exhibitions on different aspects of art and international exchange exhibitions can be put on in parallel
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STRUCTURES
 
 
Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, Stuttgart
CABR, Beijing
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LANDSCAPE DESIGN
 
 
RLA Rehwaldt Landscape Architects, Dresden / Beijing
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STAFF
 
Design
Meinhard von Gerkan and Stephan Schütz with Stephan Rewolle and Doris Schäffler
Design team
Gregor Hoheisel, Katrin Kanus, Ralf Sieber, Du Peng, Chunsong Dong
Peer review
Meinhard von Gerkan and Stephan Schütz with Stephan Rewolle
Project leader
Matthias Wiegelmann with Patrick Pfleiderer
Collaborators
Bao Wei, Johanna Enzinger, Anna Bulanda-J., Kong Jing, Andreas Goetze, Guo Fuhui, Mulyanto, Chen Yue, Zheng Xin, Gao Hua, Xing Jiuzhou, Helga Reimund, Tobias Keyl, Christian Dorndorf, Annette Loeber, Verena Fischbach, Jiang LinLin, Liu Yan, Mehrafarin Ruzbehi, Yoko Uraji, Lu Han, Xia Lin, Tian Jinghai, Uli Bachmann, Ajda Guelbahar, Iris Belle, Sabine Stage
Electrical engineer
CABR
Artistic and multimedia installations
ADA Acoustic Design Ahnert, Berlin
Lighting design
conceptlicht GmbH, Traunreut
TsingHua Design Institute, Beijing
Facades
SuP Ingenieure GmbH, Darmstadt / Beijing
Acoustical consultant
Müller-BBM Group and ADA Acoustic Design Ahnert
Architect of record
CABR (Chinese Academy of Building Research), Beijing
Project management
Beijing Guojin Consultants Co., Ltd., Beijing
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CREDITS
 
 
Photos © Christian Gahl, Ben McMillan, GMP von Gerkan, Marg und Partner
Drawings © GMP von Gerkan, Marg und Partner
Sketch © Stephan Schütz
Text edited by GMP von Gerkan, Marg und Partner
Courtesy by GMP von Gerkan, Marg und Partner

GMP von Gerkan Marg Chinese National Museum Beijing



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