Nanjing Sifang Art Museum
Steven Holl Architects
The new museum is sited at the gateway to the Contemporary International Practical Exhibition of Architecture in the lush green landscape of the Pearl Spring near Nanjing, China.
The museum explores the shifting viewpoints, layers of space,
and expanses of mist and water, which characterize the deep
alternating spatial mysteries of early Chinese painting. The museum
is formed by a "field" of parallel perspective spaces and garden
walls over which a light "figure" hovers. The straight passages on
the ground level gradually turn into the winding passage of the
The upper gallery, suspended high in the air, unwraps in a
clockwise turning sequence and culminates at "in-position" viewing
of the city of Nanjing in the distance. The meaning of this rural
site becomes urban through this visual axis to the great Ming
Dynasty capital city, Nanjing.
The courtyard is paved in recycled Old Hutong bricks from the
destroyed courtyards in the center of Nanjing. Bamboo, previously
growing on the site, has been used in bamboo-formed concrete, with
a black penetrating stain.
Museum has geothermal cooling and heating, and recycled storm water.
Limiting the colors of the museum to black and white connects it
to the ancient paintings, but also gives a background to feature
the colors and textures of the artwork and architecture to be
Perspective is the fundamental historic difference between Western and Chinese painting. After the 13th Century, Western painting developed vanishing points in fixed perspective. Chinese painters, although aware of perspective, rejected the single-vanishing point method, instead producing landscapes with "parallel perspectives" in which the viewer travels within the painting.
Facts about Nanjing Sifang Art Museum
30,000 ft2 (2,787 m2)
Steven Holl, Li Hu
Clark Manning, Daijiro Nakayama
Pei Shyun Lee
Architectural Design Institute, Nanjing University
Guy Nordenson and Associates
Nanjing Foshou Lake Architecture and Art Developments Ltd
Last updated: December 19, 2013