As a lifestyle gallery, Chongqing Jiangshan Yun Chu – Legend Gallery in China is a trial for and response to localised architecture by LWK + PARTNERS. It explores the spatial interaction between nature and urban space on a site close to Chongqing’s Jialing River bank, where the waterscape forms a rare natural setting for the urban area.
Riverbends by the cliff is a symbolic setting in Chongqing. Sitting on a triangular site at the highest point of the cliff, the gallery allows visitors a full view of the riverbend and a bird’s eye view of the future Yue Lai core transit-oriented development (TOD) district.
Initial concepts from the early design stages all seemed rather out of place in the natural environment in spite of multiple scenario-based trials, until the team of LWK + PARTNERS visited the project site at twilight hours. When scattering gold and crimson light painted the city, the mountains and river alone shone through. The team eventually drew from the essence of design to respond to context and nature, and the design slowly revealed itself.
The architecture is subtly filled with images of cliffs, riverbends, sunsets and mountains, where shapes of natural features were interpreted as simple curves cutting across the sky.
To better assimilate with the surroundings, the building merges into the mountains and is embedded in the cliff rocks. When the sun sets in the west, the building would dissipate into the natural environment, inviting sunlight to penetrate the gallery and fall onto the city behind it. Over 180 panes of customised glazing also meant that the main supporting structures and interiors has become an indivisible part of its elevation. These gigantic walls with spatial functions became rocks that grew from the mountains, furthering blending in with the natural landscape.
The shrewd and humble deference in the design is a powerful response to the environment; the site’s natural traits generate even more grandeur for the architecture. The simple design language is a vessel for us to tie our understanding of city and life to the earth of Chongqing.
The entire second level has been rotated, adding an artistic twist to the impressiveness of the cliff. The building also has an 18-metre-long overhanging observation terrace commanding views of the city. Walking along it is an experience of entering the sky and disappearing into nature.
Photo credits: Guanhong CHEN, Lian HE