The gallery was endowed by a company. Nanjing University of the Arts found an open space among the crowded dormitory buildings, preparing to use the public housing space on the ground floor of the original 46th dormitory to renovate and expand a two-story art exhibition hall. The lower level is ‘Ancient Tile Research Exhibition Hall’, and the upper level is ‘Ancient Oil Painting Restoration Exhibition Hall’. The theme of the two exhibition halls is Chinese and Western. So, the separate management is required and the exhibition halls need to be unconnected to each other. Considering the plain co-ventilation of art and tradition, we designed a small house of fair-faced concrete called ‘The Concrete Exhibition Hall’, and used the reverse arc of the inner arch to pull up the upper and lower floors to provide the two themes with the opportunity for dialogue.
Client: Nanjing University of the Arts
Designer: Atelier Diameter / ZhongSen Architectural & Engineering Designing Consultants LTD.
Photographer: Aurelien Chen
The complex of the new dormitory buildings is a living area called ‘Creative Street District’. The ‘Concrete Exhibition Hall’ is in front of the 46th high-rise dormitory, faces a small square between the buildings, and the outside of the hollowed-out wall in the east side is the city road - Hu Ju North Road. In the west side, there is a stone-paved pedestrian street of the university which is lower from north to south, filled with cafes, book bars and various creative shops. It is quite popular.
The school is a small society. When constructing a building in an art school and building it in a lively dormitory area at the same time, maintaining and strengthening the good sense of community in the area became the original intention of the design. Each floor of the building is connected to the street and the original bridge, which is better accessible. We went one step further by squeezing out an outdoor space from a limited building area and creating a penetrating vaulted veranda on the second floor, attracting people from several directions to move towards the cohesive square.
Modification and extension
Nanjing University of the Arts is a model for the transformation and upgrading of the old campus in Jiangsu Province. It has been adhering to the original site for more than 60 years. Although the campus area is narrow, the new and old buildings are interspersed with the hillside plants. The spatial levels are vivid and rich, which is deeply loved by teachers and students. The addition of this ‘Concrete Exhibition Hall’ is still a continuation of the original method of school's construction. The interior decoration is the main modification method, the expansion part is very small. And reinforcing original joint by embedded steel bars was used at the junction of the two to meet the new technical specifications.
Here, the key point of the renovation and extension is not technical breakthroughs and the increase in the number of areas, but the continuation of the campus's rich artistic life atmosphere, and attracting students' spontaneous gatherings and activities through the characteristics of the place.
Space and appearance
The double arches inside and outside give this sculptural little house a touch of the color of the western art space, but one of the inspirations of the space prototype is actually the Wuliang Hall of Linggu Temple in Nanjing. The special texture of the outer arched fair-faced concrete is a metaphor for the brushstrokes of oil paintings and the fragments of ancient ceramics, but more of it brings a gentle sense of security to the person in the room. This feeling will be further enhanced by the warm light at night.
In order to give space to the incense in the yard, the corner of the building along the street made a setback, which also provided a geometrical modelling opportunity for the descending stairs. Behind this arc wall, the light spreads over the stairs, making the solemn arcade space add a lively atmosphere.