Arch Studio was asked to update the Rongbaozhai Western Art Gallery in city's Liulichang district. The area is one of Beijing's oldest quarters, and features a series of traditional two-storey stone dwellings that sell various craft pieces, artworks and antiques.
"The purpose of the design is to create a space full of the elements of orient, zen, nature and simplicity, as well as maximise the interior space under the limit of the existing grid," said the architects.
The architects added walls in the form of foldable screens to the ground and first floors, allowing the rooms to remain flexible and open.
"Folding screens have long been a part of traditional Chinese decoration," said the firm. "They deliver the beauty of serenity and harmony by separating and embellishing a room as a member of traditional Chinese furniture."
On the first storey, the screens create an exhibition hall that is secluded from the rest of the room. Wooden cupboards line the left-hand wall, while a glass-enclosed staircase is on the right.
"The first floor is designed to be an up-and-down transparent exhibition hall enclosed with fixed folding screens, which delivers an intense impression at the first sight," said the architects.
When the walls are folded back, the top floor of the building becomes a open-plan room that can be configured to create artwork displays.
While the upper levels are largely used as exhibition spaces, the basement houses a manager's office, store room and restroom.
Arch Studio previously installed curved glass walls that enclose bamboo-planted courtyards in a tea house situated in one of Beijing's ancient neighbourhoods.
Recently, Kengo Kuma created a sprawling village of folk-art galleries for China Academy of Arts and Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto used locally sourced materials to create a countryside arts venue at a former farm.
Photography is by Wang Ning.
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