Excerpt: KennaXu Gallery is an art space designed by the architectural firm Da Integrating Limited. As they approached the project, the designers carefully thought about the relationship between the gallery and the old residential buildings surrounding it. They saw the possibility of establishing a deep connection between the gallery and people, nature and the city.
[Text as submitted by Architects] Recently, DA INTEGRATING LIMITED transformed an old residence into a contemporary art space in Shenzhen, China. The gallery is situated within a simplistic building, hidden behind the shades of green trees and accessible through a small path. Here, it opens up a journey of dreams and art.
Gallery in an old community
The building, constructed in the 1990s within an old community, is where the gallery owner Kenna Xu spent his childhood. It carries his deep affection for Shenzhen and breeds his dream of establishing a contemporary art gallery that finds a foothold in the local area and pursues global visibility.
As they approached the project, the designers carefully thought about the relationship between the gallery and the old residential buildings surrounding it. They saw the possibility of establishing a deep connection between the gallery and people, nature and the city. The team created open spaces and optimized landscape views based on on-site conditions to inject home-like comfort and intimacy into the professional artistic space and integrate artistic aesthetics into real life.
However, some unfavourable conditions were also to converting the former residence into an art space. The original space consisted of two floors, which were narrow and dim. The first floor had a low ceiling, which looked like a storeroom, while the second floor featured an old-styled, disordered, fragmented spatial pattern. The overall space seemed so different from an art space.
“Frames” introduce daylight
The designers tried to work out an open spatial layout in the gallery to represent an open attitude towards communication, thinking and sharing. To create transparency, the design team carved out “frames” on facades to match with all-glass partitions, which also helped introduce sunshine, trees, flowers and birdsong into the interior. In this way, the design realizes the perfect integration of art and five-sensory experiences.
The interior space is connected to the yard and outdoor scenery, bringing the gallery closer to the community and people. Walking into the small semi-open space, visitors would immerse themselves in art appreciation in the tranquil and pleasing environment. Sunlight filters into the interior through windows and leaves traces on walls, making the white surfaces ethereal and vibrant.
Based on the idea of “installation space”, the designers created a transparent courtyard surrounded by a natural landscape. The glazing reflects splendid colors and mottled tree shadows as the sun goes down, showing a marvellous artistic painting changing throughout the year.
Contemporary minimalism interprets the beauty of art
The space is dominated by a white hue, which produces a modern, simplistic spatial tone and an inclusive backdrop that reveals the authenticity of things. It can fully display the colour, composition, aesthetics and thinking of exhibited paintings. The design incorporates a sense of “emptiness” to create a free and serene ambience, to enable harmonious interaction between light and shadow, nature and artworks, thereby achieving the beauty of art.
The designers conceived a series of interlinked, interweaving functional areas by exploring the connection of different spaces and the relationship among structures. The layout breaks the “flatness” of scenes, dissolves the original space’s residential atmosphere, and turns it into a gallery space infused with freedom, openness, and humanism.
The unique windows shake off traditional designs and act as openings for conveying messages. Meanwhile, those structures bring in the daily chatter of residents, sounds of footsteps and birdsong from outdoor groves, which become background music for the art space. The gallery seems to grow here and closely integrates with the old community.
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. The space itself is transformed into a delicate work of art, revealing the unparalleled charm of the contemporary art gallery.