Northeast of Beijing, the bustling metropolis gives way to a rural landscape of mountains and meandering rivers that hug the Miyun Reservoir. Here, a transformation has taken place. Virtuoso Shanghai architecture firm Neri&Hu Design and Research Office has reimagined a generic two-storey retail building as a tranquil – and decidedly luxe – private clubhouse and cultural centre.
In a refreshingly unconventional approach to adaptive reuse, the project’s heritage value does not come from meticulous preservation of the old building – which was nondescript – but instead from its dramatic reinvention as a contextually attuned showpiece.
Taking cues from its rustic surroundings, the 4,000-square-metre Junshan Cultural Centre integrates elements of northern Chinese vernacular – including the elegant wood-look aluminum screen that frames the building – to create an understated local landmark.
The striking facade appears to emerge from the shallow pool in front of the building. It’s a whimsical gesture. The sleekness of the reflecting pool against the slender, gracefully symmetrical facade panels makes for an elegant contrast to the rougher texture of the brick walls behind the aluminum and the new trees alongside the pool.
Inside, a connection to nature informs the layout and programming of each major space. While Neri&Hu’s design maintains the courtyard typology of the site’s existing donut-shaped building, the introduction of additional greenery, new fenestration and a rich material palette – accented by bold aluminum window frames – lends the complex a new energy.
The amenity-rich Junshan Cultural Centre includes a 100-person multi-purpose event hall, a spacious business lounge and bar, a library, a children’s reading room, a private function space, and a family media room, all capped by a lounge and a rooftop deck. In addition, a marquee art gallery serves as a focal point for the complex. Here, Neri&Hu’s signature play of light and shadow frames the double-height space in a sumptuous, poetic ambiance.
This effect is best experienced under the skylights and curved ceilings that define individual spaces with subtle chiaroscuro drama and underline the feeling of a journey through the building. And these unifying interior elements complement the drama of the exterior facade: an aluminum screen that acts both as a brise soleil and an aesthetic language that ties the complex together into a coherent whole. From the exterior and the interior, this cultural centre is alive with warmth and vitality.
The adaptive reuse project transforms a nondescript two-storey building into a local landmark in dialogue with the landscape.