The Pritzker Architecture Prize winner effortlessly blends daylight with form and function for this exciting new cultural project.
HEM is a museum complex located in the Shunde new business district of Foshan, Guangdong Province, China. It is founded by a world-renowned entrepreneur who dedicates this project to his hometown by providing an institution that combines modern art with local and historical heritages.
The museum is in the neighbourhood of the business headquarter of his company, next to the city’s park, which created a network for the community that puts various elements of the city at this juncture.
HEM, stands for HE ( Chinese character 和, to mean harmonious) Museum embodies its founder’s wishes – to provide a harmonious life through sharing of art and culture. The character 和 has a connotation of balance and good luck, especially in the Canton area.
The design of the building takes ‘harmony’ as the theme. From the architectural design to the craftsmanships on the details, are presented through a variety of circles. This is an attempt to create a new culture center that integrates Cantonese culture by extracting the unique meaning of its geometric form in the regional context.
These circles constructed the space of the building through ripple-like expansion: from top to bottom, with the overlapping of four circles. With each area’s clear-cut periphery, an enriched variation effect is created through the interaction between spaces. This is also a design adopting to the subtropical climate, in which the stark changes of light will create the emotional atmospheres.
In these circles, not only spaces are set up for exhibition and education programs, their flexibility is also ideal for the display of contemporary installations. The contrast between the circle and the square exhibition spaces has given more characteristics to HEM.
The dual-spiral staircase and the courtyard corresponds to the overlapping circles. This dynamic presents the rich layers of the spaces that can only be achieved by the dual-spiral design.
There are also spaces for the resting area and refreshments. Water is used as the main attractions such as the pond, which also works as a cooling device during summer. Also, the reflection of the building creates a beautiful illusion as if the basement of the building is elevated up to the sky.
I hope HEM will become a new cultural landmark in the Canton region, at the same time, a meeting point and a harmonious space for all.