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Shou County CULTURE and Art Center


Studio Pei Zhu

Shou County CULTURE and Art Center
By Li Xiangning -

Architects in modern China have always sought to answer questions about the time and space coordinates of their design work; in other words, how to define their own practice strung between West and East, or between tradition and modernity. With his new work, Shou County Culture and Art Center, Zhu Pei has provided his own particular answer to these questions.

As an ancient cultural city, Shou County still has its original four square city walls made of rammed earth faced with brick. Within these walls, the streets form an intersecting longitudinal and latitudinal grid redolent with the history of daily life down the centuries. The connecting courtyards make the city resemble a huge sponge with countless holes, all bustling with people going about their daily business. Indeed, Zhu Pei’s Culture and Art Center could be seen as a metaphor of the whole city, or the reconstruction of the urban typology on a micro scale. Several features bear this out.

Firstly, the Culture and Art Center is a complex comprising an art gallery, cultural center, library and archives that will provide a brand new cultural gathering place for the city and help sustain the cultural spirit of the city. Although a medley of different cultural activities, Zhu Pei has not chosen to vary - in respect of the built enviroment - the size and height of the volume. Quite the opposite. The building, which is located inside the new city district, is tightly wrapped round by a square wall like that of the old city itself, and contains the different functions in a holistic mass that rivals the plain and stark new city landscape outside the old city. The façade of the building is more like a city wall than a building frontage. Large and small windows and recesses in the walls suggest the scale of a tall battlement. The water surrounding the main entrance and the slightly sloping bridge strongly resemble a castle moat and draw bridge.

Secondly, if the building is...

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