In the early 2019, the space of Atelier Li Xinggang was moved from the 7th floor of building 2, no. 19, Chegongzhuang Street to the 11th floor of BIM building built recently. In the ordinary working space of this office building located in the courtyard at the depth of city, using furnitures, display racks and boards, large-scale models and an outdoor architectural sketch and so on, the architects micro-transformed the office space that can accommodate both normalized office needs and exhibition requirements in this deep urban compound office building. Through the field and the daily work, this shows the scene about the thinks and works of a Chinese contemporary architect, which named “Integrated Geometry and Poetic Scenery: the Working Place of A Chinese Contemporary Architec”.
The BIM building has 14 floors of height. The entire building form is reduced from a rectangle to a right-angled triangle along the diagonal and forms a geometrically arranged “artificial mountain” on the southeastern side of the volume, with the roof terrace stacked from low to high levels. The building’s 11th floor where the studio is located is just at the highest layer of the receding volume. The interior plan is in the form of a trapezoid that narrows from south to north, with one large and one small outdoor roof terrace connected at the southeast corner.
In the west and northwest, there are fixed with independent office, meeting room and storage, elevator, toilet, tea room and other auxiliary rooms. Considering the waste of space in setting cubicles along the bevel edge, the office space is concentrated and compacted at the neat southwest area and a middle corridor connect the elevator hall, meeting room and other areas.
The triangular area on the east side is gradually arranged from north to south with several immersive experience sections and themed work displays. Along the long-slanted curtain wall, there is a display area for linear work models in the type of warehouse display rack. From the southeast corner at the end of hypotenuse, there is a flexible pavilion with a view of the city of Beijing in three directions: east, south and north. In that way, there forms a multifunctional space with working, storing, viewing, playing and resting at one spot.
The immersive section 1 at the entrance hall was made by Lego 2 (completed in 2008) and the drawing of “Poetic Scenery City” (completed in 2020) which is made by six vertical rotating screens. Small and grand scene, stereoscopic and planar pictures, together form the entrance scenic focal point. The back of rotating screen can be used as daily nail board, which can rotate to form different space for different requirements.
The adjacent immersive section2 is consist of the “Set-All” Seats (completed in 2015) and a 1:1.5 model of the sunshade window from the project of Chinese Embassy in Spain (completed in 2011). The two are set opposite each other, forming an interesting dialogue between “cohesion” and “extrinsic feature”, “seeing” and “being seen”. The architects gather and sit down to read and discuss, becoming a sight in the sunshade window.
The immersive section 3 focuses on the studio's recent Shanghai East Museum project (designed in 2017). The 1:50 partially dissected plain white model acts as a giant "uncanny object" in the space, and forms a semi-enclosed space for sole thinking with the help of benches. Through the hole of the model, one can see the survey drawings of “Penglai Pavilion” (drawn by Li Xinggang, 1989) unfolding slowly on the opposite. These two together suggest a search for an ideal world made of man-made and natural elements.
Between immersive section 2 and 3, with the clues of six key words which is “experience”, “habitat”, “scale”, “density”, “order”, “nature”, 12 models and display racks of recent projects are connected together to work as the theme display area. They are large or small, horizontal or vertical, dividing and connecting the space, dialoguing and unfolding layer by layer.
At the same time, the linear arrangement of the modular shelves along the east curtain wall, the display shelf system is derived from the scaffolding in the "Instantaneous Peach Garden" project. A large number of working models from the studio's nearly 20 years of experience have been stored and displayed in the shelves, which have created a rich and vivid spatial interface.
The immersive section 4, located near the model workshop in the southeast corner of the site, is centered around the "Instantaneous Peach Garden" project (completed in 2015) and an outdoor rooftop terrace. At the northern end of the terrace, a small pavilion is built by converting moon-shaped spandrel beams into columns and doubling as an awning for accessing the terrace, which gently peers into the city from the "artificial mountain cliff" on the east elevation of the building, like a light kite pulled by the columns. (Completed in 2020). As night falls, architects sit around at the pavilion to have a rest after busy work, taking in the panoramic view of the city of Beijing, which has embraced the vicissitudes of a thousand years of history and development. Which is a picture of "Urban Poetic Scenery".
Several groups of wooden furniture appear constantly at these experience areas which are built by basic form of language in booth of “Set-All” Seats (completed in 2015), which hinted a series of physical behaviors. In the immersive section 1, the front desk of “Floating” is not only the continuation of wooden bookshelf, but also a mediation (body scale) between micro scale (Lego 2) and macro scale (“Poetic Scenery City”). In the immersive section 2, new and old wooden furniture form a more complete enclosure, which also provide more possibility for sitting (booth, bench, bar, etc.). In experience area 3, abstract model (large-scale model of the project of Shanghai East Museum) and abstract furniture (wooden armchair and bar) and plants together work as key elements of space, enclosing a semi-private “Inner room”.
With 16mm slim square steel tubes forming an abstract grid of vertical rows in the space, and moon shape beams tying the rows together horizontally and bringing a sense of identity, the steel display shelves become another important clue in the space. The moon shape beam can change the width flexibly according to the size of models, leading to the elimination of traditional display rack and “Floating” of the model in space.
At the bottom of the rack on the line of the exhibition, square steel tubes are replaced with sheet steel board to ensure the security, which can be converted to work as the outside coffee table. The Moon Wild Pavilion on the rooftop terrace looks like a horizontal display rack, with 3 enlarged moon shape beams as columns, drawing a slender but definite line in the sky of the city.
The intervention and transformation of daily working space through exhibition, is not only a concentrated presentation of design philosophy and design works of Atelier Li Xinggang’s “Integrated Geometry and Poetic Scenery”, but also a real presentation of modern Chinese architects’ workplace, an exhibition that can be constantly changed and will never close. These realized and unrealized works are originally scattered in the nature and city, as if they form another diachronic “virtual” micro-city here, documenting in fragmentary form how the contemporary city that architects serve has moved from the past to the present, and how it might enter the future.