Neri & Hu unveils Aranya Art Center in China
The Aranya Gold Coast in Qinhuangdao, China is an established resort within the Asian tourist market and a well known port town in the northern province of Hebei. So when enlightened developer Aranya asked Neri&Hu to design an art centre for their seaside community, the Shanghai-based duo jumped at the opportunity.
The brief felt a fairly straightforward one – a space for art within the resort to cater for residents and visitors. At the same time, ‘Aranya, as a community has a strong emphasis on the spiritual nature of their lifestyle ideology, an oneness with the environment’, explain the architects, so their design had to incorporate all those elements and draw on the community’s overall direction and context.
With that in mind, Neri & Hu went on to create a calming structure out of textured concrete, based on the simple box-style volume with a central courtyard – a space for both the residents to meet, sit and relax, and for the art to feature at the heart of the scheme. Referencing the region’s seaside location and the water’s calming influence, the courtyard houses a water feature, which reveals a stepped gathering space when drained.
Apart from the exhibition galleries, the centre offers a café, a multi-purpose gallery for events and an outdoor amphitheatre, as well as an accessible roof with 360-degree views.
’It was exciting for us to work with Aranya on this project where we were able to explore a hybrid typology which combined design, art, and performance’, say Neri and Hu. ‘The project pushes the boundaries of how architectural space deals with sensorial experiences in unexpected ways.’ §