Yarluntzangbu Grand Canyon Art Centre
21 July 2011

The Grand Canyon Art Centre is located at an altitude of 2900 metres high, at the entrance to Pai town, Nyingchi Province, Tibet. The site faces the Duoxiongla Snow Mountain in the south, the Yarluntzangbu River in the north; the Namjargabrwa Peak can be seen on the east side, while a neighbouring stream on its west flows down from the snow mountains.

In Tibet, landscapes and buildings are one. The design from standardarchitecture for the Grand Canyon Art Centre is not an exception, as our design hoped to further strengthen this integration of the art centre with the landscape. The design idea originated from a free grid composed of polygonal blocks. The structure and spatial organizations are defined by imposing this irregular grid system onto the whole building site, This interesting grid also gave the architectural space many “accidents”: some unexpected massing, lanes, spatial sequences, windows, views and viewing platforms. When viewed from a distance, the building can be read as boulders randomly scattered on the mountainside.

The building is vast in function, and split into top and bottom sections according to the natural height difference of the site. The building is a single story exhibition space when viewed from the road, having a total area of 1180 sqm; it is however a double story building when viewed from the parking lot, an area of 2750 sqm, which includes office spaces, coach dispatch centre, main restaurant, kitchen, and large toilet facilities. These two parts are connected by a grand staircase near the centre of the building, and forms the most convenient passage for tourists moving in between the reception, exhibition and coach terminal.

The windows inside the exhibition space are sized and placed through careful research. Each space has a few openings under the precondition of a continuous exhibition surface. Some of these windows form a series, occasionally giving the visitor three to four consecutive views towards the village afar, the Yarluntzangbu River, and the chain of mountains surrounding it. One can even catch a glimpse of the Namjargabrwa Peak and Gyala Peri Snow Mountain when the weather is clear.

Daylighting is an important consideration for the design of the Art Centre. For every space in the exhibition hall, skylights are placed in the gaps between the exhibit wall and building structure. Excellent lighting conditions can thus be achieved even without any artificial lighting. Since most of the building spaces are underground, good insulation is possible accompanied with the use of large areas of thick masonry and stone walls. Even under hot weather conditions in summer, the interior can still maintain a comfortable temperature without air-conditioning.

The building form strived for simplicity, in a way that allows both its locality and contemporariness to co-exist. The building material utilized the local masonry construction, while the window details gave prominence to the contemporariness of the exhibits. Its seamless and frameless connection of glass to wall, further abstracted the building within its colourful surroundings. 

In the culture of building, standardarchitecture emphasized its equality towards the Tibetan culture. This means that contemporary buildings in Tibet should never be based on the copying and repetition of superficial Tibetan ornaments and forms, since these actions imply a hypocritical respect for its culture. True respect exists only through an unbiased view towards another’s culture. Only with this equality in mind, can a contemporary Chinese architecture truly exist and be built in Tibet. 

Project Name: Tibet Yarluntzangbu Grand Canyon Art Centre
Location: Pai Town, Linzhi, Tibet
Program: Art Exhibition, Restaurant, Bus Station
Design period: 2010
Construction period: 2010-2011
Site area: 9900 sqm
Building area: 3900 sqm
Architect: standardarchitecture






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