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Guotai Arts Center

Date:2013-07-10 0comments Click:6338

Narrated by Jing Quan, Organized by Megan Wu

As a new landmark building, Guotai Arts Center not only carries the history of the city, but also offers a unique cultural space for citizens. Its connection with several business centers in the neighborhood makes it one of the best destinations of recreation for local people. The transverse, overlapping and overhanging “arch frames” in black and red colors turn the entire building into a lit bonfire that is burning merrily.

Architecture that records the memories of a city
Chongqing Guotai Arts Center, which is located in the core CBD area of Chongqing in the Liberation Monument Area of Yuzhong District, is composed of two parts: Chongqing Grand Theater and Chongqing Art Museum. Covering a floor area of 30,463 square meters, it is built with eight stories aboveground and two stories underground. In 2005, after three rounds of international bidding, the Cui Kai Studio of China Architecture Design and Research Group contracted the architectural design of this project. At that time, as a young architect in the studio, Jing Quan was excited that he had the chance to work on the design for such an influential landmark building. However, he didn’t expect that the design and construction of this not-so-large project would last for eight years, during which countless challenges would appear. He said sentimentally, “Chongqing Guotai Arts Center is of great importance not only to Academician Cui Kai, but also to me and the entire project team.” Over the past eight years, if any big changes occurred in the design of Guotai Arts Center, Academician Cui would always make time for an onsite discussion with the other members of the team, no matter how busy he was. Architect Jing Quan even made Chongqing his second hometown; he has lived there for years. Chongqing Guotai Arts Center has therefore become one of the most important projects in the life of his career.

Chongqing Guotai Arts Center is of great significance not only to the design team, as they made painstaking efforts to complete the project, but also to the people of Chongqing. Guotai Arts Center dates back to the founding of the Chongqing Theater in 1937, which was famous for dramatic performances, including the well-known works of Qu Yuan by GuoMoruo, Metamorphosis by Cao Yu, The Fascist Bacillusby Xia Yan, The Problem of Face by Lao She and more, making it the base for anti-invasion dramas in the Great Rear Area. After liberation, Chongqing Theater still accompanied the residents of Chongqing through many years and has now become one of the most familiar urban memories for them, though its name went through several changes over the years. As a result, the construction of Guotai Arts Center has drawnthe attention of people from all walks of life since its inception. Jing Quan recalled, “The then municipal leaders of Chongqing, Secretary Wang Yang and Mayor Wang Hongju, expected that we could construct abuilding that embodied the connotation of Chinese culture, illustrated Chinese and regional cultural features and represented the new cultural building achievement of Chongqing after it become a municipality directly under the central government 10 years ago.”

The connection between tradition and modernity
The Liberation Area of Chongqing where Guotai Arts Center is located is the busiest area of the city. The highly prized land here inspired the design team to connect the design of Guotai Arts Center with the bustling commercial atmosphere of the Liberation Monument Area. Jing Quan said, “It is a diversified complex. We created many entrances and exits to form a connection and facilitate interaction between commerce and human culture. The popularity of the cultural facility helps the surrounding commerce gain more consumers, while in turn the popularity of the commerce also interacts with the cultural facility to share the thriving commercial opportunities and vitality.” Following the texture of traditional residential buildings of Chongqing, the roof of the Arts Center combines the traditional image with unified modules of the building, so as to create a roof square that is composed of light wells and courtyards. Viewed from above, one can seemingly find the remaining fragments of the memories of historical Chongqing. The upper part of the building houses the Chongqing Art Museum, which requires indirect and roof lighting, while the middle houses the City Public Space and the lower part houses the Grand Theater and commercial areas, which require transparency and a large amount of lighting, while remaining closely connected with the city. Considering functional and energy-saving requirements, from top to bottom the main body of the building transits from dense to sparse and from big to small. Viewed from a distance, it resembles the white fig tree that is commonly seen in Chongqing.

After fully comprehending the site and the building’s functions, the design team put an emphasis on the expression of Chinese culture and Chongqing cultural characteristics. During discussions, Academician Cui Kai denied the original landscape architectural design idea and started drawing the first draft of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center on the basis of the landform of the project. According to this new idea, Jing Quan and other coworkers found inspiration from a multi-bucket arch structure in Chongqing Huguang Assembly Hall and decided to use this multi-bucket arch and through-joint frame as the parent elements. Jing Quan said, “When seeing the multi-bucket arch structure in Chongqing Huguang Assembly Hall, we were impressed by its strong form. Additionally, it is a modern feature, so we started from there.” Though many people think that Chongqing Guotai Arts Center looks similar to China Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo, Jing Quan would rather compare it with another famous structure at the Expo. “Its design concept is more similar to the UK Pavilion. The design of the UK Pavilion uses modern technology to articulate the surface with points, while Guotai Arts Center uses more than 600 rods to articulate the surface,” he said. We may say that the greatest highlight of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center is that the design team adheres to a modern simple architectural approach to express the spiritual connotation of the traditional architecture, making it a solid example that combines traditional architecture with modern design.

The breathing “arch frame”
“Arch frame” is a distinctive feature of Guotai Arts Center. The term, which is unfamiliar to common people, refers to a Chinese traditional architectural approach recorded in The Han Shu: Biography of HuoGuang, featuring layers of timber. The façade design of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center uses the “arch frame” as modular components throughout the entire structure, thus breaking the traditional architectural concept,which requires a tangible surface for the façade. The transverse, overlapping and overhanging components of the structure, are held high and naturally arranged to show the visual impact as well as the sculptural quality of modern Chinese architecture. The architectural form takes the traditional Chinese instrument “sheng” (a reed pipe wind instrument) as its cultural carrierto create a peaceful and harmonious image – the entire building appears like a lit bonfire burning merrily. In the roof space preserved for sculptures, lights penetrate through the orderly arranged arch frames, evoking the smart play of light and shadow, which interacts with the sculpture works exhibited there, thus creating a unique art space for the Ba culture. When wandering on the outdoor platform of the Art Museum, people can look far into the distance through the irregular intervals of the “arch frames” to seek the memories of the city, while indulging in the inexhaustible enjoyment of interweaving light and shadow.

All the “arch frames” of Guotai Arts Center are made up of Luxalon® Honeycomb Panels that are finished in glossy black and matte red. The red color symbolizes the scarlet oil hotpot of Chongqing, showing the upright and warm-hearted personalities of Chongqing people, while the black resembles the color of the boat tracker stone along the Yangtze River, representing the Bayu origin history and the corner stone that supports the development of western China. The black and red colors create an inscription rubbing effect of the ancient times, while corresponding to each other. The reasonable combination glossy black and matte red effectively reduces the depression caused by large-scale red-colored buildings. In addition to providing a decorative effect for the façade, the “arch frame” is also an integral part of the entire building as it plays an important role in environmental protection and energy saving. The typical climate of Chongqing is cold in winter and hot in summer. As a result, the main design purpose of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center is to construct breathing and ventilated green architecture that suits the environment. Jing Quan explained, “One thirdof the arch frames are used to carry the architectural structure, while about 40 percent of them work as air outlets and fresh air vents of the AC system. It is breathing like a termite heap.”The liquid-based air conditioning system of the building brings the eco effects of the “arch frames” into full play. A healthy, energy-saving and comfortable air processing system is therefore created, which helps build Chongqing Guotai Arts Center into a true “breathing” green building.

The New Landmark of Chongqing

Interviewer: Contributing reporter of Hunter Douglas in China, hereinafter referred to as “Reporter”
Interviewee: Zhao Yongbo, Vice General Manager & Chief Engineer of Chongqing Urban Construction Development Co., Ltd. and the Project Manager of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center, hereinafter referred to as Zhao Yongbo

Reporter: The planning and construction of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center lasted for several years. What were the considerations when the government began construction of this cultural project?

Zhao Yongbo: Since 1997 when Chongqing became a municipality directly under the Central Government, the economy as well as the culture of the city has seen rapid development. However, speaking of the software and hardware of the cultural industry, Chongqing still lags behind other municipalities directly under the Central Government and the developed coastal cities. To improve the service quality of the citizens’ cultural life and hasten the pace of construction of cultural facilities, the municipal government of Chongqing decided on a policy to construct 10 cultural welfare facilities. The Chongqing Guotai Arts Center is a significant project among these 10 facilities, as well as an important carrier of the anti-invasion history. The Guotai Arts Center is located in the Liberation Monument area of Chongqing, which is the core business district of the city. Upon completion, the project will play an important role in spreading Chinese culture, driving the development of spiritual civilization and promoting international cultural exchanges. At the same time, it is also of a positive and great importance in exhibiting the image of Chongqing, increasing the value of land, creating a harmonious open urban space and promoting the future development of the city.

Reporter: It is said that the design and construction of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center represent many innovations and breakthroughs, which not only integrate the features of traditional Chinese architecture but also emphasize the ecological and energy-saving green design of the building. Can you tell us something about it?

Zhao Yongbo: The building of Chongqing Guotai Arts Center adopts the “arch frame + through-joint frame” architectural approach. It originates from the multi bucket arch structure of the Huguang Assembly Hall in Chongqing, while referencing the “arch frame” approach described in the Hou Han Shu. The spirit of traditional architecture is expressed via a modern yet simple method, which fully illustrates the visual impact and sculptural appearance of Chinese architecture. The architects ingeniously use the “arch frame” as an air inlet and outlet to fully interpret the “breathing building” concept. Because Guotai Arts Center also includes the functions of performance and exhibition, its structure is relatively complicated and the construction incredibly difficult. In terms of structure, large and small spaces interweave with each other, steel structure and concrete are both used. The steel components of the “arch frame” crisscross, while the huge cantilever beams and high spaces overhang, imposing a great challenge to the construction. During the construction process, we made many breakthroughs in hoisting and preloading of large span steel structure, as well as the construction of the overhanging steel cantilever.

Reporter: Chongqing Guotai Arts Center has already been put into use. Do you have any comments when reviewing the entire project? And, how do local people and media evaluate it?

Zhao Yongbo: I am glad to tell you that in the evaluation held at the end of 2012, Chongqing Guotai Arts Center ranked number one on the list of Top 20 “New Landmarks of Chongqing”, showing that the citizens have fully accepted the project and all the participating parties. This made all the efforts and difficulties during the construction process worthwhile.

Reporter: What did the project department of Guotai Arts Center think about Hunter Douglas products?

Zhao Yongbo: Because of the climatic features of Chongqing and the architectural shape of Guotai Arts Center, the selection of a material that is easy to clean has become an important precondition for the realization of design ideas. After repeated verification, we finally decided that the façade of Guotai Arts Center would use decorative aluminum honeycomb panel, and at the same time we clearly brought forward several requirements for high quality with regard to color, texture, acid resistance and self cleaning. A public bidding helped us select Luxalon® honeycomb façade from Hunter Douglas. During the implementation process of the project, the colleagues of the project department and I visited Hunter Douglas Shanghai Factory and were deeply impressed by the standard corporate management, advanced equipments and excellent quality. The sales representatives and dealers of Hunter Douglas in Chongqing also provided quality and timely service. Along with the continuously innovating architectural design concepts, decorative aluminum panels will embrace the prospects of a wider market. I hope that Hunter Douglas will build a more flexible production organization to better adapt to the market. I wish the company prosperity and am looking forward to another chance to cooperate with them!

No Pain No Gain

Text by Huang Zhiqiang

The Chongqing Guotai Arts Center, as one of the 10 public welfare facilities of the city, is located in the original Public Security Bureau block in the Liberation Monument CBD area. Designed by the famous master architect Cui Kai, the facility is a multifunctional arts center that incorporates the functions of “exhibition, performance, entertainment and business”. Chongqing Leibang Trading Co., Ltd., the local dealer of Hunter Douglas, worked closely with colleagues from HDAPCD to carry out technical promotion, produce samples and supply products and services. Chongqing Leibang is a trading company that is devoted to supplying quality architectural products for the city of Chongqing. As a local enterprise that was involved in the construction of Guotai Arts Center, all of our staff members are so proud that they have contributed to the landmark building favored by all citizens of Chongqing.

In the early stages of project follow-up, the owner Chongqing Urban Construction & Development Co., Ltd. and the designer China Architecture Design & Research Group Cui Kai Studio were very cautious about the selection of façade materials, because the success of the project relied directly in the quality of façade materials. The owner turned to many domestic and international famous façade suppliers and compared them. Finally, Luxalon® Honeycomb façade caught the owner’s eye with its complete and systematic solution. They specified an area of standard samples on the site and requested us to finish the technological detailing, supply and installation of the samples within 10 days. Sample supply happened during the golden week of National Day holiday. To guarantee punctual supply of samples, the colleagues from HDAPCD worked overtime with us. Together, we comprehensively considered the texture, water drainage performance and installation. Then we determined the best sample scheme and satisfactorily finished installation work within the given time. The owner hosted several technical seminars with the designer and renowned experts in the architectural circle of Chongqing. After comparing the many varieties of materials, including single-skin aluminum panel, heat-insulating sandwich wall and aluminum honeycomb panel, the owner finally selected the aluminum honeycomb panel as the main material of the “arch frame” structure, thanks to the ultra flatness, high strength, rich color options and easy installation of the product.

In March 2011, Chongqing Guotai Arts Center finalized the public bidding by choosing Luxalon® Honeycomb Panel. Product supply happened in summer when it was swelteringly hot at the construction site, but the colleagues from our Fulfillment Department stayed on and actively coordinated to solve various problems and ensure smooth supply and installation. Due to the fact that Chongqing Guotai Arts Center is situated in the downtown area of Chongqing, the Liberation Monument Area, it is not allowed to park trucks there during daytime. To meet the deadline of product supply, we chose to unload the delivery at midnight to guarantee timely supply. After the project was completed, the solid quality of Hunter Douglas products and the considerate service provided by Chongqing Leibang Trading Co., Ltd. were highly recognized by the owner. The author is the Technical Director of Chongqing Leibang Trading Co., Ltd.

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