When he opened his practice in 2010, Ole Scheeren had the luxury of already being a rising star in the architecture world. The former partner of OMA made his name as partner-in-charge on landmark projects such as Beijing's CCTV Headquarters and the Interlace in Singapore, and has since made headlines with striking forms such as those in the MahaNakhon skyscraper in Bangkok, Angkasa Raya in Kuala Lumpur and DUO, again in Singapore. The unveiling of his latest design, the Guardian Art Center, is likely to get a lot of attention too - but for very different reasons to his previous projects.
The Guardian Art Center features none of the dramatic cantilevers and futuristic formal experimentation of Büro Ole Scheeren's other works. Instead the "hybrid art space" - located in the heart of Beijing, just a stone's throw from the Forbidden City - references the scale and materiality of the adjacent traditional buildings. The lower floors, containing an auction house and a museum with a 1,700 square meter exhibition-events space, comprise an aggregation of small "pixelated" blocks, clad in stone with a pattern of perforations derived from a 700-year-old Chinese landscape painting. Though the upper portion of the building, containing a 120-room hotel and a restaurant, is larger in scale, it is broken down by a facade of oversized glass "bricks," again a reference to the materials of the hutong next door and a "humble and non-elitist symbol in Chinese culture," according to the press release.
To find out more about this intriguing building, we spoke to Ole Scheeren, who assured us that in spite of its appearance, the Guardian Art Center is just as radical as his previous works. Read on after the break for the full interview.