Architects: Vector Architects     Photography: Chen Hao     Construction Period:  2017-2019     Location:  Taiyuan, China

Changjiang Art Museum is located in Changjiang village at the northeast corner of Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. Similar to any other Chinese villages, this village was razed in 2016 to give way to the full speed urban development. The spatial context that once inscribed the memory of people’s everyday lives were deprived and fractured. Changjiang Art Museum, as a cultural and shared space that will serve the public in the future, attempts to establish a contemporary response commemorating the traces and atmosphere of the human construction that ever existed on this piece of earth.

The Museum is situated at the southern edge of a newly constructed residential community, adjacent to the urban gird. Therefore, how to make the museum function as a linkage between the community and the city turns to be one of the major issues we concern. At the lower level of the building, we carve out the space at the southwest corner for an outdoor staircase, landing to the street level and leading up through the museum to an open terrace. The terrace at the second level becomes a raised-up plaza with a tree courtyard in the center, allowing for public activities and further connecting to the northern community across the street via a footbridge. This exterior crossing circulation is public and independent from the route in the museum. Both of them accommodates the use for the general visitors and local residents.

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The galleries of the museum are arranged around a light well with 5.7 meters in diameter and 16.4 meters in height, which serves as the organizing “anchor” for all the spaces. The light well is both the starting point and the end point. People will start from passing through the bottom part of the light well, walk along the spiral staircase coiling up to the galleries while inadvertently looking back into the light well through the apertures at different levels, and eventually conclude the journey stepping down from the top gallery along the light well again back to the starting point. While inside the galleries, natural light is filtered and softened by the skylights, penetrating through a grid of 1.9 x 1.9 square meter waffle beam and filling the interior with a homogeneous and immersive light quality. Furthermore, the exterior staircase that connects the second through fourth floors, the protruding corner window on the fourth floor, and a southwest-facing vertical window on the same floor all provide museum visitors with glimpses of the contemporary cityscape of Taiyuan.

As we see it, Changjiang Art Museum is like a solid block of brick – occupying a specific space-time coordinate, bearing witness silently and attentively to the clamorous and ever-changing city around it.

Text provided by the architect.