Originated in Helan
30 kilometers west from Yinchuan, there is the crowded vista of the Helan Mountain Range. Back in the Stone Age, carvings of human figures, animals, hunting scenes, rituals and gods were deeply etched in between the rocks on both sides of the eastern gully of the mountain pass. These ancient rock paintings have leapt through time and after five thousand years they have mysteriously connected to the contemporary artist Han Meilin.
“I firstly arrived at the Helan Mountain 21 years ago,”says the artist, “After I had witnessed these ancient paintings, I had a feeling that I had been traveling all my life searching for home of art, and now I have finally found it here at the age of over 50. This had been a search for over half of my entire lifetime.”
In 2010, with great respects to the Helan Mountain, Mr. Han Meilin had donated over one thousand pieces of selected artworks to the Yinchuan Municipal Government. To properly collect and exhibit these precious artworks, Yinchuan Municipal Government had proposed an art museum project near the ancient rock painting site at Helan Mountain. Hence the Han Meilin Art Museum project was initiated.
Inspiration from Nature
The main subject Sunlay came across when designing this particular project was to custom-make a site-specific architecture that would correspond to the majestic Helan Mountain and the magnificent rural natural environment.
Likewise the artist Mr. Han Meilin, the ancient rock paintings also inspired the design team. We proposed a scheme similar to the ruins of the rock paintings, the design aimed to express intellectual aspirations of human-beings while merge back to the nature landscape. The result is an architecture of land art with appropriate scale, volume and composition in regard to the vast mountain, communicating a spiritual connection between the natural elements including land, sky, mountain and mankind.
Herein lies the resonance between art and man, a symbiosis status between architecture and nature.
▼ 雄壮而原始的自然环境，the majestic Helan Mountain
▼ 入口空间，建筑与自然的共生，entrance view, a symbiosis status between architecture and nature
A Contemporary Interpretation
The geological condition of Helan Mountain is mainly composed with rocky mountains, with exposed stones and severely deserted. The local Helan residents have developed a way of masonry wall construction method which utilizes existing material when building houses.
To maintain the pale waste isolation and vigorous characteristic of the site, the design scheme utilizes the height difference and inserts the entire architecture into the main body of the mountain. The masonry surfaces of the walls preserves the primitive texture of the local rock, which form a coherent unity of man-made architecture and nature. The “vaults”between the walls contain the main functions of the building. Three platform of shimizu concrete are placed lightly on top of the original surface of landform to create a safe zone in between the deserted land.
The raw-surfaced wall and simple exhibition hall are layered to form the basic appearance of the architecture. With various elements such as functions, circulation and aesthetic in mind, the final form of the architecture is then determined. Other secondary functions such as stairs and restrooms are all hidden into the vaults of the thick walls to ensure the highly purified spacial experience of the exhibition hall and still maintain the rich layered architectural form.
▼ 概念演化，design process
▼ 出口空间，以石墙和清水混凝土构建而成的建筑，exit space, a building built by masonry wall and shimizu concrete
The main exhibition circulation route is determined based on the 9.5 height difference of the site. The route is curated from the top to the lower level with natural masonry paths directing the circulation toward the entry of the main architecture. The 3-story Art Museum contains an exhibition hall, a interactive zone, a creative zone and tourist service areas; with multiple functions such as exhibition, tutorials and leisure activities. The exhibits include rock-painting-theme paintings, calligraphies, sculptures and ceramics by Mr. Han Meilin.
The exhibition hall, based on the features of the contents of the exhibits, are divided into multiple zones, artworks of various types are organized in featured exhibition spaces. The organization of the building plan is guided by the 2 stories core exhibition hall at the center, it is then surrounded by dynamic interactive spaces which interlaced zones weaving back into the main hall. The visiting experience is like reading through a masterpiece with various chapters, filled with interesting stories for visitors to mingle with.
▼ 出口处平静的水面，water surface at the exit space
An End, and a Start
The Art Museum locates at the exit of the prehistoric rock painting site. Like a sheltered station for tiring tourists, the Art Museum has provided an ending spot of the ruin scenery experience, while at the same time performed as a starting point of interactive contemporary art exhibition. The sight-seeing rhythm is enriched with the Art Museum providing a conversation between tourists, spirit of modernity, contemporary art and history, art and nature from five thousand years ago.
Below the vast firmament, like the ancient rock paintings hidden in the Helan Mountain, Yinchuan Han Meilin Art Museum is like a pearl of perfection, lying quietly at the foot of the peak.
▼ 游览路线，route design
▼ 夜景，evening view