Beijing’s interesting buildings aren’t limited to sky pants and traditional architecture. It also has beautiful libraries, galleries, courtyards and restaurants that realize the visions of international architects.
We picked a few Beijing venues with exquisite designs, as recommended by the the architecture magazine Building Structure.
Liyuan Library is located in Huairou District. The building, designed by Tsinghua University architecture professor Li Xiaodong, is made of 45,000 pieces of firewood.
Its materials, such as wood, steel and glass, have never been chemically processed and can be replaced at anytime. The building is environmentally friendly and has no electricity or water. Its hours “rise with the sun and rest with the sunset.”The library is closed from October to May.
The library’s interior design is very simple, with large staircases and bookshelves. Books are placed underneath the staircases, which also serve as reading spaces. There are no partitions or furniture, which emphasizes the unity of its space.
A building grows like grass at 6 Fangyuanxi Rd. in Chaoyang District. Italian designer Luca Nichetto’s first architecture project, Tales Pavilion, has a facade made of 1,200 vertical brass tubes that resemble blades of grass. With the passing of time, the brass tubes will oxidize and change color naturally. Nichetto also created the building’s delicate and simple interior design.
Temple Restaurant Beijing
Temple Restaurant Beijing is housed inside a 600-year-old temple. The building’s original structure was preserved, but the interior design radiates with post-modern simplicity. The brown marble floors, paired with walls of the same color, white dining tables and light-colored seats are brought alive by flowers and colorful paintings. The restaurant serves some of the best contemporary European food in the city.
CupOne is a modern yet quiet cafe on Fuanxi Road. The place also serves as a restaurant, library and venue for small parties and gatherings. The first and second floors are connected by a spiral staircase of 30 steel plates. Spanish designer Manuel Zornoza summed up the idea behind CupOne’s design in one sentence:”show something without showing it.”
Jinfu Ecological Restaurant
Jinfu is an ecological restaurant located in a Tongzhou District greenhouse. The designer used vegetables as an inspiration for several private dining rooms that are built inside the greenhouse.
The dining rooms are inspired by the five elements and are made of stone, wood, glass, cement, bricks and iron. Each dining room serves a certain type of food, such as teppanyaki in the glass room.
The main dining area resembles a giant tomato ?the greenhouse’s best-known product. Dining feels like being inside a gigantic piece of installation art.
Tree Art Gallery
Tree Art Gallery has a curvy design, with an interior courtyard that wraps around a fishpond and a single tree. Zigzagging ramps at one end of the building lead directly to a rooftop terrace.
Curvy walls separate but do not cut the space into sections. No signs are needed in the building, and visitors can follow their instincts to explore every corner.
Architect Dai Pu thinks that experiencing space freely is the best form of conversation between people and art.
Hongkun Art Gallery
Hongkun Art Gallery is an 800-square-meter venue located at 42 West Dawang Road. Upon entering, there is a sudden silence. The white surroundings with flowing streamlines give the gallery a surreal feeling.
Inside the gallery, clean walls give way to works of art. Little arch designs can only be found on the doorknobs, which helps the viewer to avoid distraction.
The designers, architects at the firm Penda, said the curves were inspired by China’s mountains and valleys.
Rock’N’roll, motorcycles and coffee sound like a great combination. ACE Cafe, located in 798 Art Zone, is built on the site of the old 751 train station. The station and locomotive have been renovated in a post-industrial design.
The venue has a dynamic feeling, with a stainless steel wall that is “able to breathe.” The wall evokes the incessant machines from olden days.
King’s Joy Restaurant
King’s Joy Restaurant is an upscale vegetarian restaurant whose chef aims to promote healthy vegetarian eating.
But the restaurant, located near the Lama Temple at 2 Wudaoying Hutong, stands out on its good design. The building is a courtyard, though not a traditional one. Its design accentuates the contrast between the outdoor and indoor, allowing the spaces to expand into each other.
Zhang Yonghe, an architecture professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, contributed to the restaurant’s design. Zhang is very fond of old Beijing courtyards. He said the traditional idea of Chinese architecture is an enhancer of “harmony between people and the earth”.