Located in Beijing’s Baiziwan precinct near the city’s Business District, Shui Zui Zhong Guo by CUN DESIGN sits perfectly at home in its surroundings. This is a project with a dual personality, and each serves a purpose and supports the other. Designed for Shui Zui Zhong Guo, a media and content developer which researches Chinese culture and how it is expressed today, the project pays homage to the past yet embraces the future.

The original 1000-square-metre space is divided in two: 600 square metres are used as office space for the Shui Zui Zhong Guo team and the 400-square-metre area, referred to as Shui Yuan, is a cultural destination. They are distinctly different in style and functionality with independent pathways, but they are connected through a corridor that resembles the front and backyard of an authentic Chinese courtyard.

A new cultural gem plays with light and dark in Beijing

Shui Yuan is an aesthetic space for Shui Zui Zhong Guo where culture is explored and community can gather. Unlike a typical all-white art gallery, this space has been stripped back to the bare red brick and, within the six-metre-high void, only a few round grey columns have been left standing.

This space has evolved into a venue where culture, art and design is celebrated. Exhibitions showcase furniture, kitchenware, jewellery and flower arrangements, as well as tea art. The sophisticated artistic displays are complemented by the rustic surrounds and the character of the building is ever-changing with the seasons where there is sunlight in summer, mild rain in spring, breezes in autumn and falling snow in winter.

A new cultural gem plays with light and dark in Beijing

Just as Shui Yuan reinterprets the spiritual essence of an Eastern courtyard, the office section employs contemporary design methodologies to convey Eastern aims with an intertextual interpretation.

The floorplan of the workspace has been designed to resemble a traditional Chinese garden with meandering paths and changing perspectives. Beneath the functional zones are 12 abandoned steel columns and above, in the office area, semi-low walls provide a sense of privacy. The walls vary in height and, combined with extensive mirror and glass partitions some real others virtual, there is a visually undulating topography that creates a sense of spaciousness.

Related: Qpokee by CUN Design

A new cultural gem plays with light and dark in Beijing

While the office interior is clean and spare, with a reception and low wall that screens the visitor from staff, there is a hint of the dramatic achieved through lighting. An orange glow, which refers to the colour of the Forbidden City, bathes the inner sanctum of the workspace and becomes a theatrical inclusion in the space.

Founder of CUN DESIGN, Cui Shu and principal designer Li Hui have created an interior that sustains work and supports culture providing a stage for both. The design of Shui Zui Zhong Guo is masterful in its resolution and ability to combine the best of culture and functionality. There is no decoration or interior elaboration, just simplicity at its best.



Also in China: Junya Ishigami’s one-kilometre-long art gallery bridge.

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