ULLENS CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART (UCCA)
Architect: WILMOTTE & ASSOCIÉS
Executive project architect: MADA S.P.A.M.
7 500 sqm
Rehabilitation of a 1950s industrial building into an art gallery.
Jean-Michel Wilmotte shares a double passion with Myriam and Guy Ullens: contemporary art and the spirit of collecting. To house the couple's collection of more than a thousand pieces of contemporary Chinese art, the architect designed a private museum, UCCA, by renovating an industrial building from the 1950s in the Dashanzi district of Beijing.
The interior design of the UCCA Foundation builds on the intrinsic qualities of the industrial building. The architect has retained the brick walls, compressed air machines and a gigantic brick chimney with a steel frame that reaches a height of 34 metres.
In order to obtain maximum surface area, the two naves were connected, creating twin halls topped by low arches that support the roof. The first nave contains two exhibition rooms of 200 sqm and 280 sqm and related functions. The second nave offers a completely free and modular space of 2,000 sqm. A steel walkway is placed at the key to the porticos of the two naves, like a black line in a dazzling white universe. Mezzanines bordered by black frames emphasise the geometry of the space and give access to the archive and management offices. The use of natural light and indirect lighting from fluorescent tubes under the ceiling creates a particularly pleasant atmosphere.
Without altering the perspective of the volume and its succession of concrete bays, we created a mezzanine from scratch to accommodate a research centre open to students, artists and amateurs.