Architects Create Sculptural New Design Language For Cultural Auditorium

Penda‘s motivated team of international architecture creatives was founded in 2013 by Chris Precht and Dayong Sun; this diverse team joins east with west with its internationally-located offices in Beijing and Vienna. Tucked along the eastern 3rd ring road in Xi Da Wang Lu, an upcoming cultural area of Beijing, Penda have built on their renovation of the Hongkun Museum of Fine arts with this adjoining “Escheresque” Art Auditorium project.

Their brief from Residential and Cultural Developer Hongkun was to carry out an interior design and facade renovation project resulting in a multi-function meeting space that could be used for hosting lectures, small exhibitions, readings, and an area for trading artworks.

Exterior of the Art Auditorium

The monolithic entrance of the auditorium connects its visual language to that of the neighbouring Hongkun Art Museum. In this auditorium project, visitors encounter a box of arches, steps, and mirrors which guide them down to a modest and flexible space on the lower floor, suitable for exhibitions, meetings, and lectures.

The project has resulted in a stylish multi-purpose space

The steps create a warm transitional space following on from the surrounding concrete plaster

Behind the steps is hidden a cubby-like seating area

Penda’s signature use of ribboning arches and counter-arches brings a sense of natural rhythm and calm to the cultural space, staying true to the mother-earth connections that characterise Penda’s nevertheless firmly forward-looking modern design.

Arches and counterarches form a key component of the design language

“Our love for arches as a structural element, but also as a welcoming gesture and symbol of entrance, manifested itself in this project,” Chris tells us, “with the reflective walls the arches transform from a physical to an intangible element, and connect with each other in one endless swing.”

Mirrored elements fill the space with natural light

“We used mirrored steel as window and door frames to bring more light to the space”, Chris explains, a vital characteristic of a culturally creative project.

The site combines space for the public and for the employees, separated by discreet stairways

The auditorium box is flanked on its left by a first-floor lounge and a small bar, and on its right by access to a second floor employee space. The warm oak-panelled central cube of the auditorium stands in deliberate contrast with the sculptural, cold cement plaster surrounding it, and its sculptural shape is inspired by the visually beguiling work of Salvador Dalí and M. C. Escher.

The sleek bar area demosntrates minimalism at its finest

“We wanted to create a strong contrast between the outer space and the inner box. The cold appearance of the cement plaster of the outer walls contrasts the warm wooden walls of the inner box,” Chris tells us.

For Chris, “it’s a space that connects reality and imagination”. We can’t help but agree.

The extensive use of mirrors broadens and skews the space, drawing on the visual trickery of Escher and Dalí

Penda’s signature use of arches is mirrored in the rounded aesthetic of the space

Hongkun Art Auditorium
Project size: 270 sqm
Project team: Chris Precht, Dayong Sun, Jing Wang, Li Pengchong, Wen Xu, Bai Xue, Mingxue Sun
Credits: Penda Architecture & Design
Photographer: Xia Zhi

More details:
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The neighbouring Hongkun Art Museum:

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