UCCA Regeneration, China by OMA

An experiment on different ‘imperfections’ of glass

Project Specs


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UCCA Center for Contemporary Art was China’s first private museum for contemporary art, founded in 2007 at the heart of the 798 art district in Beijing with the aim to bring Chinese art into global dialogue. Following the center’s internal restructuring in 2017, OMA’s renovation project seeks to give this internationally renowned institution the public image and visual identity it deserves.

▼改造后的建筑外观,exterior view after renovation ©Bian Jie

▼曲线型的玻璃立面揭示出内部的展厅空间,a band of curvilinear glass façade wrapping around the museum store, uncovering the exhibition halls beyond ©Bian Jie


To re-conceptualize its spatial interface with the public, the renovation features a band of curvilinear glass façade wrapping around the museum store, the grand entrance lobby and a small café on the ground floor, uncovering the exhibition halls beyond. The design reinstates the clear difference in spatial qualities between the existing buildings: two 1950s factory halls and the red Slab, a former administrative building from the 1970s, and visually reconnects UCCA’s interior to the 798 art district.

▼轴测图,axon ©OMA


The development of UCCA and Beijing’s 798 district are closely intertwined. A former industrial complex of electronic appliances, 798 gained momentum as an art district during the 90s owing to its large industrial spaces and affordable rent. Since UCCA opened its doors in 2007 to the public, the economic boom in China has brought new funding and international recognition to the area. Lacking an overall masterplan, the art district has gradually morphed into an ensemble of disparate architectural and programmatic elements, with ad hoc rehabilitations and patchwork renovations.

▼剖面透视图,sectional perspective ©OMA


Within this context, OMA sought instead to create an image of openness and clarity for the new entrance sequence that starts below the red 1970s administrative slab building. Columns and cores remain, while a thin layer of glass elegantly curves and folds around them; not as a traditional flat storefront but as an experiment on different ‘imperfections’ of glass: corrugations, creases, bulges and bends enacting the internal strength of the material and unravelling waves of visual illusions.

▼薄薄的曲线型玻璃立面优雅地围合在建筑外部,a thin layer of glass elegantly curves and folds around the existing building ©Bian Jie

▼波纹、折痕、凸起和弯曲带来独特的起伏效果, corrugations, creases, bulges and bends, the ‘imperfections’ of glass create waves of visual illusions ©Bian Jie

▼立面细部,detailed view ©Bian Jie

玻璃立面揭示出一个清晰的空间序列:从宽阔的景观庭院穿越板楼下方的柱廊,经过位于夹层下方、介于板楼与大厅之间的小径,再穿越大厅的“中殿”,进入既有的展厅空间,最后到达内部的“主展厅”(Great Hall)。

The façade reveals a clear sequence of spatial bands: the new navigation leads from a large landscaped forecourt through the colonnaded space under the slab, passing the alley between the slab and main hall over the aisle underneath a mezzanine floor and through the ‘nave’ of the main hall, to the existing galleries, and ending at the Great Hall.

▼入口区域的大台阶,the grand stair of the entrance area ©Bian Jie

▼首层空间轴测图,axon drawing of the ground floor ©OMA

Status: Completed
Clients: UCCA
Location: Beijing, China
Site: 4 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing Shi
Program: Regeneration of Entrance Zone, Museum Store, Creative center for children and Café
Partner-in-Charge: Chris van Duijn
Associates-in-charge: Inge Goudsmit
Team: Aishwarya Keshav, Chen Lu, Cecilia Lei, Christina Wilkinson, Connor Sullivan, Hayger Chan, Junsik Oh, Dongmei Yao

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