VIDEO: Steven Holl on the Sifang Art Museum

Steven Holl has, again, teamed up with Spirit of Space to produce two short films on the recently completed Sifang Art Museum. In the first video (above) Holl explains the project’s inspiration - the mysteries of parallel perspective seen in early Chinese paintings - and how the design subtly distorts any concept of a vanishing point at the ground level yet contrasts this notion in the upper galleries by framing the distant view of Nanjing. In the second video (after the break), Spirit of Space allows you to experience this space by revealing it from all perspectives and scales.

See the second video, after the break…

Steven Holl Architects explains: 

Designed by Steven Holl with Li Hu, the Sifang Art Museum explores the shifting viewpoints, layers of space, and expanses of mist and water, which characterize the deep alternating spatial mysteries of the composition of Chinese painting. The museum is formed by a "field" of parallel perspective spaces and garden walls in black bamboo-formed concrete over which a light "figure" hovers. The straight passages on the ground level gradually turn into the winding passage of the gallery above. Suspended high in the air, the upper gallery unwraps in a clockwise turning sequence and culminates at "in-position" viewing of the city of Nanjing in the distance. This visual axis creates a link back to the great Ming Dynasty capital city.

The courtyard is paved in recycled Old Hutong bricks from the destroyed courtyards in the center of Nanjing. Limiting the colors of the museum to black and white connects it to ancient Chinese paintings, but also gives a background to feature the colors and textures of the artwork and architecture exhibited within. Bamboo, previously growing on the site, has been used in bamboo-formed concrete, with a black penetrating stain. The museum is heated and cooled by geothermal wells, and features a storm water recycling system.

The Sifang Art Museum films are the fourth collaboration of Steven Holl Architects with Spirit of Space. For more, see:

Videos by Spirit of Space and courtesy of Steven Holl Architects.

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "VIDEO: Steven Holl on the Sifang Art Museum" 11 Mar 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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