The reconstruction and extension of the National Museum of China in Beijing merges the former Chinese History Museum and Chinese Revolutionary Museum. Originally completed in 1959 as one of ten major public buildings in Tiananmen Square in the immediate vicinity of the Forbidden City, the structure is still a milestone in modern Chinese architectural history. Elements of Chinese architectural tradition blend with a western, neoclassical architectural idiom.
Eleven international architectural firms were invited to take part in the competition for the reconstruction and extension of this building, which was won by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners in association with CABR, Beijing. In October 2004, gmp and CABR were commissioned to do the job, ahead of a field that included Foster and Partners, Kohn Peddersen Fox, OMA and Herzog & de Meuron.
After prolonged discussions with the client, the design scheme was revised in order to attune the new museum building harmoniously to the external look of the old building, while ensuring old and new were nonetheless distinguishable from each other. The echeloned roof typologies of the buildings in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were thus echoed in the new building, though differentiated in detail and material.
In the same way, the colonnades and window styles typical of the existing building were translated into a contemporary formal idiom. The final scheme was finally confirmed in 2006, and was under construction since 2007. The reconstruction of the northern existing building was completed in summer 2009, and the completion of the whole scheme was in Spring 2011.
The 191,900 m² National Museum is the largest museum in the world, its purpose being to act as a showcase for the history and art of one of the oldest cultures of mankind.
Completed in 1959, the National Museum of China, is one of the ten important public buildings in Tien An Men Square. Situated within a stone’s throw of the Forbidden City, the Museum represents a milestone in the history of modern Chinese architecture.
The building has recently been converted and expanded by the German architectural studio Gerkan, Marg & Partners (GMP) who won the competition that many major international studios took part in.
Having analysed various options, a decision was made to create a vast, single area that joins the northern and southern wing of the museum in a single complex of buildings that eliminates the central structure. This 260m long pavilion acts as a central access area, which then opens out to include the current central entrance on Tien An Men Square.
The ‘forum’ that this creates, therefore acts as both a hall and a multifunctional events area including service facilities for the public such as cafés, tea rooms, bookshops, souvenir shops, a ticket office and toilets.
This entire area which covers the whole forum and the central hall is panelled so iGuzzini have produced a special fixture to create a lighting effect that evokes the warm and inviting atmosphere the designers wanted for the whole building.
A special structure has also been designed to house the lighting devices and blend them in perfectly with the panelling so they cannot be seen. The optic used is a downlight optic and the devices use traditional lights (metal halide and halogen) and LED lights.