BUZZ believes that the art museum is a container for the occurrence of content and a place for interaction between the audience and artworks. A true art museum should be closely connected to the current state of people's lives and consumption scenarios, seamlessly integrating into everyday life and supporting people's new lifestyles. Although modern art museums have moved away from many everyday and consumption attributes, they are becoming more normalized in terms of life perspective and visit frequency.
Art breathes in every moment of life, neither towering above life nor isolated in a void. BUZZ's exploration stems from attention, understanding, and recreation of everyday events, life scenes, and social occurrences. There is often a desire for a spiritual space detached from daily life and consumer scenarios to experience aesthetics beyond life and materialism. In the context of contemporary urban China, the spatial form of an art museum above the community and landscape seems more suitable to carry such a spiritual place.
Based on BUZZ's continuous exploration of natural and daily perspectives in design, we attempt to investigate whether other spatial categories can be inspired or filled by art and content to further extend the new forms of art space. This aims to connect art spaces with nature, communities, and commuting routes, creating links between two points. For urban dwellers, art museums have gradually integrated into the city, becoming a part of urban life. Therefore, the return of contemporary art to life has always been BUZZ's mission in spatial practices over the years.
In early 2022, BUZZ successfully established the new U2 Art Museum, a new brand under UCCA, in Beijing's Chaoyang JoyCity, seamlessly integrating art space with daily consumption. The transformation design of the Beijing MAHA HERmit space, which began in the same year, is located in the central park of a high-end community in the core area of Beijing. The original site comprised three independent sunken courtyards. While preserving the unique value of the site, BUZZ redefined it through design, providing the art space with a fresh experiential state and reinforcing its community and landscape attributes.
The three spaces in the project are named the Islet Space, the Cave Space, and the Ravine Space. They originally served as three independent sunken courtyards in the community's underground parking lot, used for ventilation and evacuation. Upon initial arrival at the site, the perennial abandonment, fallen leaves, unattended vines, and dilapidated walls gave it a somewhat desolate appearance. The new design aims to preserve the original site's unique content value while redefining it through three different design approaches, providing the space with a fresh experience to meet the needs of a contemporary art space with a diverse content.
The first space, located in the central position of the three courtyards, is named Islet Space, and it is also the largest in volume. The top of the space is designed as a "roof" covered with soil, surrounded by a ring of skylights through which natural light projects from above. Standing inside, one can see a large open void space illuminated by natural light, creating the impression of a floating metal island in a halo of light, hence its name.
The central design of the main exhibition hall echoes the design of the top, creating an exhibition scene with a similar sense of floating. On the side away from the entrance, there is also a function room with lower ceiling height, making the Island Space not only serve as an art exhibition space but also becoming a new community venue for meetings and gatherings, introducing the concept of an art living room within the community.
Its form originates from a smooth curve, as if splitting open a gap in the ground, and the entrance naturally winds its way down into the building. In the afternoon, sunlight filters through the surrounding buildings, shining into the gap in the ground, leaving behind swaying tree shadows. In the evening, indoor lights seep through the gap in the ground, outlining an exploratory and entirely new picture.
Compared to the rectangular shape of the Islet Space, the interior of the Cave Space presents a soft cavity form. Based on the prototype of the cavity, BUZZ has had different interpretations in various projects, such as the Chamber Church and the Wuling Mountain Hot Spring Bath House, from different concepts and perspectives. The enveloping nature of the cavity itself and its semi-open form introduce the landscape into the interior space, giving it a sense of landscape extension beyond architecture and a "historical" attribute related to the experience of living organisms.
The continuous walls generated by the cavity form allow the exhibition space to accommodate not only large sculptures and contemporary installation art but also adapt to projection-based new media art. This integration of space and exhibits creates a completely new artistic medium.
Its form lies between the Islet Space and Cave Space, simultaneously diminishing the functionality of art exhibition and resembling more of a community activity center. The exterior features a skateboard park, while the interior includes a climbing wall and an activity room. The square roof block of the skateboard park is embedded next to the climbing wall in the sunken space.
The dynamic shadows of skateboarders cast on the climbing wall, two unrelated yet spatially separated activities, create an interesting interaction in terms of light and shadow. This forms a fascinating, canyon-like cleft in the spatial profile.
This kind of scene makes the space different from the conventional concept of contemporary art space. However, BUZZ believes that contemporary art can actually have a stronger connection with daily activities, and the interaction between art and people is not necessarily limited to fixed exhibition methods. Art can be integrated into the content-oriented activities of the community, becoming a form of non-targeted participation.
The presence of the activity center is precisely the scenarization filling for the other two exhibition spaces. It can also establish a closer connection with the ground space, being used for community art fairs or creative activities, creating a completely new interactive perspective.
After the renovation，those three spaces still maintain their independent states without establishing rigid connections in the traditional sense. The landscape and community relationships between them serve as a beneficial enhancement to the spaces themselves. Among these three spaces, visitors can freely choose their routes, either strolling along the undulating landscape on the ground or opting for a more direct path within the underground parking area.
The underground parking lot is traditionally seen as a building's negative entrance. However, today, the underground garage has become an unavoidable path for people's comings and goings, even serving as a crucial interface for entering communities. Establishing a circulation relationship in such an interface is, in fact, a positive guidance for the space. It provides an opportunity to integrate art into daily life while transforming the underground parking area into a positively activated space, binding the community in an active dialogical relationship.
In most cases, people often overlook the inspirational role of art in life. However, when art is integrated into daily routines, it can prompt individuals to reexamine artworks, fostering a deeper appreciation for the value of art and its true significance beyond everyday life. This is also an inspiration for design in contemporary art.