Category: Bond

The SkyCourts Exhibition Hall, designed by Boston-based Höweler + Yoon Architecture, is sited in the International Intangible Cultural Heritage Exposition in Chengdu, China. Constructed from locally produced gray brick, the 67,000-square-foot building’s façades range from 36 feet to 49 feet tall, and push in and pull out to create a varied perimeter that is a reflection of the site’s non-orthogonal boundaries. Windows and doors are clustered on the various façades and integrated into recessed Cor-Ten window surrounds that break up the cool tones of the masonry. Careful attention to the detailing of these materials won universal praise from the jurors, including Raymund Ryan: “There’s something about the materiality of this I think is very attractive.”

Though the structure’s exterior makes it seem monolithic, inside the form is quite porous. The architects took their cue from traditional Chinese courtyard houses and clustered exhibition galleries and public spaces around seven outdoor courtyards. The roof planes slope in toward these voids, creating a varied surface clad in ceramic roof tiles; the gap tolerance between each tile was used to help accommodate the nonplanar surface. “I think … it [the detailing] is extraordinary for this project, and I love the volumetric quality of the building … it’s not just a surface,” juror Hilary Sample said. “Here some faceting goes further into the roof as well, so that it becomes very much a … three-dimensional sort of object.”

The interior environment is kept temperate in the winter with the aid of the building’s high thermal mass, and cool in the summer with cross ventilation that enters through the operable windows on the exterior walls. Fully glazed courtyard-facing walls admit ample daylight into the gallery spaces. Because of the courtyard voids, the remaining building mass is divided into thin profiles, allowing visitors to see through to multiple courtyards at once, creating a layered view of the structure. “This is a beautiful project,” juror Trey Trahan said. “I think it’s going to age beautifully.”

Project Credits

Chengdu Skycourts, Chengdu, China
Client  Chengdu Quingyang SCD
Architect  Höweler + Yoon Architecture, Boston—Meejin Yoon, Eric Höweler (principals); Meredith Miller, Ryan Murphy, Parker Lee, Jennifer Chuong, Casey Renner, Chua Matthew, Nerijus Petrokas, Zi Liu, Saran Oki, Cyrus Dochow, Thena Tak, Yushiro Okamoto, Jeremy Jih, Buck Sleeper, Lisa Pauli, Lizzie Krasner (project team)
Size  67,000 square feet
Cost  Withheld
Photograph  Yihuai Hu