Songzhuang Artist Residence / DnA

nEO_IMG_DnA Songzhuang artist residence

Architects: DnA
Location: Songzhuang town,Tongzhou distant,Beijing,
Architect in Charge: Tiantian Xu
Program: Residence/art studios
Client: Private
Design year: 2007-2008
Construction year: 2008-2009
Site area: 1,400 sqm
Building area: 5,300 sqm
Photographs: Savoye/Ruogu Zhou, Iwan Baan

nEO_IMG_1 nEO_IMG_30001 nEO_IMG_00030850 nEO_IMG_DnA Songzhuan Res 6089

Located in Tong Zhou District, eastern outskirts of Beijing, Songzhuang is the most famous and biggest artist community in China. The first artists moved here including Yue Minjun and Fang Lijun,in the early 1990’s, having been driven out of another community near the Old Summer Palace in Beijing’s north-west. For more than 10 years these artists were virtual outcasts with much of their work politically inspired, lived and worked under the watchful eye of communist authorities. With the booming of Chinese art market, Songzhuang is undergoing a dramatic expansion of artist population which has reached to 4000 in year 2008.

nEO_IMG_DnA Songzhuan Res 8872

In past years, with the dramatic increase of artist population and demand of artist’s working and living space, many constructions were undergoing in Songzhuang village. A 20-units artist residence facing a fishpond at a former outdoor storage lot is one of the local development targeting such demand.

Such a complex reflects an alternative living and working pattern: artists live in their studios, not necessarily working but also hanging out with fellows. Studio or working space is their living room as well as salon and showing space. On the other hand, they also invent outdoor space for different activities and art performance.

ground floor plan
ground floor plan

The programmatic requirement of working and living defines the height and geometry of both volumes: 6 metres height for working and 3 metres height for living; a simple rectangular box for studio and a complex geometry for living indicating bedroom, kitchen and toilet. Living volume is plugged into the working volume either on the same level or led by a stair to an upper level. The exterior is clad in dark grey and coated in orange for horizontal surfaces which is used to reflect both the industrial and village character.


The twenty units on this site are organized to be seen as stacking containers, as a homage to the sites previous use as a former industrial outdoor storage lot. This creates an expressive configuration and unique spatial quality with a series of accidental spaces as blank canvas for artists to fill up with activities. The interplay of volume and void, light and shadow, is a catalyst to allow artists and visitors to constantly explore and experiment in the outdoor community space.

In other words, this complex becomes an alternative museum for living art creation and exhibitions.

Cite: "Songzhuang Artist Residence / DnA" 25 Sep 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Gorgos

    Interesting and uncompromising.
    I respect also that it is actually built.

    I think I would hesitate to live there personally though.

  • oscar falcón lara

    Wow, an interesting project, both in scope and manufacture. I like the big monochrome boxes stacked apparently without order, creates different views and perspectives, something that is akin to artistic creativity. Very cool.

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  • a sphere

    very interesting project
    i like the togetherness of its different volume

  • Fudge

    I like the internal public spaces created, only i am not so impressed with the dark blue orange matt colour scheme. Does an artist need a work of art to live in to do their art? This feels stereotyped and I just feel that different artists have different approaches to there work. Should one be forced to reside with a picasso painting they detest? I feel a ‘blank canvas’ approach to the project would have been more appropriate in this situation.

    • Mark V

      I feel that a “blank canvas” approach is a very noble first impression, and give artists the opportunity to create without influence of another’s creation. I think though, giving a “blank canvas” forces itself upon artists in the same means given that not all artists choose to produce upon blank canvas, many artists work within existing spaces/residual objects/etc. thus contextualizing their art to some existing specificity. So when the text speaks about it referencing a prior dwelling place of the artist-residences, I think we can be somewhat confident that the artists are receiving something related to their prior decisions of a place to create in.

  • BigSmokE

    I will take some pictures for this project in a few days.

  • Squidly

    This seems to me the perfect artists housing. Its very expressive of its use and seems to embody an artists will. Though i wonder about the quantity of natural light in the studios.

  • frank

    This project will haunt me in my dreams – in a good way..

    • Mickey Mao

      lol, awesome.

      Interesting project. I appreciate the varied views to and through the different spaces.

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  • lee


  • fl!p

    sou fujimoto..?

    • Mickey Mao

      you think this is copy-architecture??

      I know that copy-architecture is an issue with some firms in China, but not with this firm. DNA’s projects are genuine and creative works of architecture. check out their website, some good stuff in there.

      • ray

        HAHAHA!! MICKEY MAO – S*up*D name!

      • irishclover

        oh… i’m not so sure.
        all their projects are a little too fluffy and untutored and too similar to the usual suspects.
        look at the windows in this project for instance.
        and their drawings in their site. what is their real soul (if any?)

    • hbchbc

      I have the same feeling at first glance.

  • ray

    it’s Habitat 67. but this project creates another quality of -ve space.

  • Jim

    I’m not quite sure how anyone can comment on the appropriateness of the spaces created by this project without a single interior image…the outside sure is nice, and the circulation areas created by the spaces between building volumes is fantastic…

    But you can’t necessarily compare the buildings exterior to the work/live spaces within…

    Interiors please, then we’ll comment on how well the form of the building compliments an artists lifestyle

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  • chenhui


  • MS

    i find it truly uninteresting and chaotic. It´s a tentative of doing something great but the result is an immature architectural project. There´s no real concept behind this….

  • ghayssa

    it s a better i like this concept

  • RT

    jeez…not another architecture with stacking blocks and the spatial divisions are just a mess.

  • E

    really wanting some interior shots to understand the project better.

  • Y

    Moshe Safdie

  • Mark Pol


    What are the possibilities to exhibit in your district?


    Kind regards,

    Mark Pol
    The Netherlands