The Inside-Out Museum, located on the foothills of Fragrant Mountain to the west of Beijing was completed in December 2012. Given that the structure was already designed by CADRG, the largest architectural conglomerate in China, the present project was limited to the design of its interiors. The museum specializes in the varied and unpredictable art of contemporary Chinese artists as well as a growing collection of American abstract work.
The interior was designed as a minimal intervention of efficient boxes of light where the art is shown. The light is composed of indirect sources that are fixed and permanent, and direct ones that can be modified or removed, a strategy that creates a ceiling that remains as clean as possible of gadgets, tracks and sensors, providing a discrete and serene background for the art.
In all floors the indirect light comes from a continuous cove surrounding the entire perimeter of every room and creating a diffused and uniform halo of light that floats over the artworks like a benediction. The cove creates also a permanent horizon for every room, a stabilizing datum that acts as unifying background to the infinitely varied products of the artistic imagination. Changing ceiling heights differentiate the circulation areas from the main rooms spatially, while keeping an open plan that encourages movement through the galleries.
Relief from the white light halo is provided in the secondary spaces of the museum, with the lobby, the reading area and meeting rooms all finished in local maple plywood panels. In the muscular veining of the maple, one can feel a natural complement to the artistic exuberance that can be expected to invade the galleries in use. In the areas used to move between spaces, the light halo of the galleries is reinterpreted with the same literal naivete that often gives birth to artistic breakthroughs, becoming perfect disks of light floating above people’s heads as they descend the stairs or wait around for the elevator.