Text description provided by the architects. Just three short years ago, German firm KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten placed first in an international competiton for the design of the Tianjin Art Museum. This week, the museum has opened its doors to the public to enjoy galleries filled with Chinese calligraphy, western art, sculpture, and modern art. Located along the lakeside promenade, the Art Museum enhances Tianjin’s cultural district and completes the 90-hectare development area, along with a library, an opera house and another new museum designed by various architects.
The museum is set back from the street edge, allowing the promenade to expand to form a plaza, from where visitors are guided via the pedestal storey to the museum’s interior. The museum’s completely transparent 14m tall entry strives to create a close link between the museum’s interior and exterior, while representing a transition from the lakeside promenade to inside the galleries.
The museum is organized in harmony with the building’s spatial aesthetic - a solid stone cube with precise indentations, cut-outs and hollow spaces. Spaces such as the exhibition rooms, artists’ studio, and library, are contained in the solid part of the monolithic structure. While the sequence of stairs and landings leading to the exhibition rooms on the upper storeys seem to have been hewn from this solid slab of stone and are flooded with natural daylight. Such a move creates interesting spatial references, but also enables a wide range of different views and makes it easier for visitors to find their way around the exhibition building.
With its horizontal layering the natural stone facade made of travertine conceals the different heights of the storeys in the new museum building. The appearance of the almost 30-meter high, sculptural edifice is structured by indentations and areas of glass alone. In addition, the facade features stone lamellas, which filter the natural daylight and protect the rooms behind from direct sunlight. The natural stone facade cloaks a cutting-edge steel construction with a regular grid of columns and two vertical access cores. The loads of the two upper exhibition levels, which appear to project, weightless, over the entrance hall, are likewise transferred to the foundations by means of reinforced concrete columns.