architect: Junya.ishigami + associates

location: Rizhao, Shandong, China

year: 2023

Text description provided by the architects.
When contemplating architecture in China, that country's vast, boundless landscapes can pose a daunting challenge.

To build with the diminutive beast that is architecture any kind of equal relationship with the immense environment that is China, is very difficult indeed. From the tiniest abode to the most monumental edifice, everything feels in some way defensive. There's an air of resignation, of a forced severing from the environment, a compulsion to close off. There is something lonely about Chinese buildings that stand in isolation as if dropped into their limitless surroundings. One gets this impression both in towns, and environments away from built-up areas. All of which makes the obvious need to forge a favorable connection between architecture and surrounding environment, when it comes to China, very tricky indeed.

So the question is, how to treat environment and architecture as equals in the Chinese context? How to bring environment and architecture as close as possible to each other, how to make the boundary between them as ambiguous as possible, how to make nature the gentlest presence possible for us humans? Such are the themes for this project.

The project is a complex for a new development in the city of Rizhao in Shandong Province, serving also as an exhibition space, visitor center, and shopping center. The exhibition space currently displays chocolate and related artworks, but the plan is to be able to change the display content easily in future. The site is on an artificial lake near the entrance of the area under development, and people visiting will pass through this building on their way to the new development. The floor area is approximately 20,000m2.

Architecture and environment have been quietly extended, the building brushing the surface of the lake forming the site for a length of around 1km from end to end, about the same as the lake. The clear horizontal surface of the lake is drawn inside the building, with the floor, imagined as new land, extending to give a sense of skating on that lake surface, an environment on which humans cannot hope to walk. Rows of columns stand in the water; floating on top of them, a sash-like roof. A new boundary between water drawn inside here, and the ground. All these elements are contemplated simultaneously. Columns repeated at regular intervals define the new surface of the water, while the water's edge created by that surface defines the new ground. A new exterior is born, in the structure's interior.

Thus a new nature, one able to sit gently alongside us, appears inside the architecture.

Glass is fitted between the columns. In some sections it can be opened up when the weather is pleasant, giving the structure an airy quality as a gentle breeze is invited into the building to caress the skin. The lower sections of the glass panels, underwater, have gaps that naturally channel water from the lake indoors.

In this new natural environment created inside a piece of architecture, one senses a landscape in which the scene inside segues into that outside. Stroll at leisure inside, and one finds some places with exhibits on large areas of ground, and in others, the ground narrowing, surrounded by a large expanse of water. In some places the ceiling is high, allowing in plentiful light and the surrounding scenery; some places are low, ceiling is reflecting on the water, low light slipping, almost crawling across the water's surface, reflecting on the ceiling. From the apertures opened up when the weather is mild, ripples from the lake outside are relayed into the building as rhythmically quivering water's surface. In winter the lake outside freezes over. The liquid beneath the ice flows inside through the gaps at the bottom of the glass, pooling there in anticipation of spring.

A long piece of architecture identical in scale to the vast landscape appears like a streak of wind passing over the lake. In some places the soft curve of the roof hangs low, contiguous with the lake surface and mountain slopes behind, and in others, it turns toward the sky, opening up generously and merging the interior of the building into the landscape outside.

Key to addressing the problem of the landscape in China is to view the architecture as a "gentle giant" of an environment, and search for a totally new relationship between natural and manmade. An entity emerges in which architecture standing in isolation sits comfortably in the natural environment, the two interacting. One discovers a natural environment inside the building, and through its characteristics as a new outside that has sprung up within the building, forges an amiable connection with the surrounding nature. Thus a new relationship between nature and humans is born. Making this happen is the object of this project.

Zaishui Art Museum information

Project name:Zaishui Art museum
Project type:Art Museum
Design:Junya.ishigami+ associates
Design year:Dec 2016 - July 2019
Completion Year:2023
Project location:Rizhao, Shandong, China
Clients:Shandong Bailuwan Co.,Ltd

Leader designer & Team:
Architect:Junya.ishigami + associates
Design Leads:Junya Ishigami, Zenan Li
Design team:Zhirui Lin, Sellua Di Ceglie, Rui Xu, Tong Zhang, Cing Lu, Yuxuan Zhou, Zhixuan Wei,Yunyi Zhang, Hanyang Zhou, Qinxuan Li, Jason Tan, Anping Song, Yichen Ji, Project team
Structure:XinY structural consultants, Xin Yuan
MEP:Environment-friendly solution to Building services Engineering, Xueqin Yin
Lighting adviser:Environment-friendly solution to Building services Engineering, Xueqin Yin
Furniture design:Junya.ishigami+ associates
Junya Ishigami, Zenan Li, Rui Xu, Yuxuan Zhou, Jason Tan, Anping Song, Yichen J
Stone material factory:Sichuan Yutong Stone Co., Ltd
Supervision:Junya.ishigami+ associates
Junya Ishigami, Zenan Li, Zhixuan Wei, Rui Xu, Cing Lu, hanyang Zhou, Qinxuan Li, Yunyi Zhang
Construction (Reinforced concrete part):Beijing Yihuida Architectural Concrete Engineering Co.,Ltd

English translation: Pamela Miki Associates

Site area:18417 m2
Building area:15810 m2
Total floor area:20220 m2
Floor-area ratio:85.8%
Each floor area:B1/3469 m2, GF/15810 m2,
Number of floors:GF, B1
Floor height/ceiling height:0-4.5 m
Maximum eave height/maximum height:4.95m
Number of parking spaces:500
Structure:Steel Reinforced Concrete Structure
Design period:December 2016 ~ July 2019
Construction period:August 2019 ~ December 2023