wutopia lab’s art museum offers an escape from mundane distractions
Monologue Art Museum by Wutopia Lab
Architecture agency based in Shanghai Wutopia Laboratory completed the ‘Monologue Art Museum‘ in China, dedicated to those who wish to escape from worldly distractions. Installed in SEATOPIA Park in Beidaihe, Qinhuangdao, the project is presented as a set of three geometric masses floating on a basin, all surrounded by a white ring. The design team sought to generate an intimate and silent space where visitors could contemplate or hide their thoughts.
“In an open green space at the intersection of three residential groups of the Weilan coast campus, I divided the 1,300 square meter building into different monoliths combined with walls, corridors and ambiguous spaces in one place triangular in shape of 3,600 square meters, the Monologue Art Museum.’
all images Images CreatAR, Seven W
the Rectangular Dance Studio, the Circular Yoga Studio and the Oval Theater
a place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city
Commissioned by Sino-Ocean Group, Wutopia Lab (see more here) has created an island in the middle of the bustling city where people can relax and be alone. The interior slowly unfolds through a sensory journey. To begin this journey, visitors cross the small entrance theater where the light pierces the angles. The project is defined by the play of lighting, as well as the spatial twists. Next, guests encounter the Art Gallery, Calm Water Court, Colorful Yoga Room, Tea Room, and Dance Studio.
While walking, the light fades, the paths narrow and the walker almost misses his way. As one exits the building, a flowery wall nods and cuts through the water in dappled shadows. As the architects mention, “water runs through the center and plunges the building, apparently towards the sea.”
geometric masses floating on the pool
The project is mainly shaped by three geometric volumes: the rectangular dance studio, the circular yoga studio and the oval theater, all symmetrical and regular with excellent seismic performance. The design team implemented three seismic joints to divide them into four independent structural units. The expansion and deformation of the extra-long structure has been released, reducing thermal stress and preventing structural cracks caused by temperature changes.
As for the theater, Wutopia Lab opted for a flexible but shielded space to keep the audience’s attention on the show. Thanks to a curved skylight above the backstage, daylight or moonlight pours down like a waterfall. “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light comes in.”
The dance studio appears as a translucent glass box ‘with enough light but filtering the outdoor landscape as a backdrop. Behind the mirrored wall of the classroom is the entrance hall and the dressing room in the mezzanine. The dancers can then dance as above and so below.
construction and details
The interior and exterior walls of the Monologue are made of glass, solid walls and flower brick walls. The three are continuous like shifting ink brushstrokes that create the varying boundary conditions of the museum. The architect notes: “I see the boundary of the Monologue as a moving line of ink. I use white instead of black in the architecture. The starting stroke is the small oval theatre. The point is the yoga hall, the dried brush is the wall of flowers, the art gallery is the line that connects them, the thin and somewhat rapid is the corridor with a feather, then it bends to become a side peak forming a thick and slow line, the museum of enlarged art, then the dance studio slowly returns to the pen.
The courtyard was originally designed to have a white dry clay stone floor. During the construction phase, the architects decided to change the white to black, transforming the accessible white square into a visible black basin. With this gesture, a new depth in the visual aspect was created.‘The white building is surrounded by a deep pool of silence, you stare at it while it stares at you. The surroundings suddenly become quiet.
“I wanted the glazed surface facing the exterior of the courtyard and the museum to have a continuous view without any structural elements. To reduce the self-weight of the structure and the size of the structural elements, the roof is made of a full cast layer of 40mm fine stone concrete with rib-patterned steel plates on top to provide insulation thermal and sealing performance. A freestanding column overhung the steel beam elements in the narrow hallway and concealed them within the walls. And the single-span frame overhanging beam steel structure unit was used in the expanded space of the art museum. The maximum overhang is 4.6 meters. It ensures a fully permeable effect with no vertical elements blocking the façade facing the watercourse.
the brick wall runs double to frame a courtyard or interfaces with glass or solid walls to form a continuous 150 meter long corridor to wrap around the museum
“The stream has calmed down. When I looked at the white building with a black poolside glass facade in the render, a new familiarity kicked in, and the vibe of the place was too cliché. So I decided to light it up by turning the tallest circular facade of the yoga room into a gradient of stained glass. With a splash of color in the thick ink, a shimmering glass fortress appears.
“The Glass Fortress originally had only one floor, but the client insisted on having a cloakroom, and I was only able to fit him a second floor to ensure the visual openness of the first floor . I also wanted the glass of the facade to maintain vertical continuity. I asked Lao Hu to suspend the floor to disconnect the floor and the glass facade. Lao Hu arranged the cross-shaped frame to provide horizontal lateral rigidity on the roof, combined with the peripheral ring beam to form a frame to provide torsional rigidity, forming a clear and efficient force system. He used four overhead pillars suspended from the main frame beam and hidden in the closet to lift the second floor slab. Finally, the staircase was also lightly suspended from the floor slab. The first floor was then opened up to the magnificent light.
open hallway with changing lights