A residential space has been transformed into a contemporary art gallery in Shenzhen, China. The architects behind it, Da Integrating, worked with the existing structure's bones to compose a clean, white space that is bathed with light and is rich in spatial play; welcome to the KennaXu Gallery.
Hidden behind mature trees and rich planting, the existing building offered open space, simple geometries and was accessible via a picturesque winding path through architectural gardens. But there was one other reason that gallery owner Kenna Xu chose this particular site for his new venue. Built in the 1990s, the old residential block is part of the neighbourhood where Xu spent his childhood. Setting up the art space here meant he could not only start his new business, but he could also have it rooted in a strong, existing community while pursuing global ambitions.
The architecture studio took on the challenge of transforming the residential interior into a design suitable for a commercial gallery, carefully considering light, colour and spatial arrangement in its composition. ‘[We] saw the possibility of establishing a deep connection between the gallery and people, nature and the city,’ say the team.
In order to create transparency and bring in more natural light, the design team carved out large, square glazed openings on the façade. An extension brings the gallery into the garden and vice versa through generous windows and skylights. At the same time, a clean, white, minimalist space inside keeps things not only functional and versatile, but almost ethereal.
‘The extraordinary, dramatic and immersive multi-sensory experiences reinterpret the possibilities of this gallery space, and make it an enchanting destination that visitors forget to leave,' say the architecture team. ‘The space itself is transformed into a delicate work of art, revealing the unparalleled charm of the contemporary art gallery.’
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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