CAFA Art Museum

CAFA Art Museum, Beijing-China, Arata Isozaki & Associates
Construction year: 2008
Address: No.8, Hua Jia Di Nan Street, Chaoyang District | BEIJING | China | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 39.9826937, 116.4591856

The new art museum is situated in an arc field, with a shell-like exterior formed by the curtain wall and the curved roof, just like a boomerang. The three entrances are respectively incised like the wing tips and corners of the boomerang. The glass curtain at the entrances enhances the transparency of the architecture; meanwhile, meets the daylighting needs. The celadon slates covering the exterior wall of the museum assort with the color of the architecture’s grey bricks. The whole external structure is orderly, harmonious, and clearly demarcated. When it comes to the interior of the architecture, there is no column in the middle of the architecture. There is just a capacious exhibition hall, which adopts a trigonal sunroof formed by a plane section of the shell, satisfying the need for light with the natural light. The whole architecture has unique shape and reasonable layout.

Arata Isozaki

The CAFA Art Museum is the first work of ARATA ISOZAKI in Beijing, as well as the first museum that he has designed in China. He pursues both the freedom and transcendence in design of the museum, which is superior to all his previous works in art, and freer in thought. ARATA ISOZAKI is very familiar with the oriental culture. The museum that he designed for CAFA, while reflecting the oriental characteristics, has incorporated modern design idea. What worth commendable is that the design is in harmony with the original dark gray courtyard-style architecture, which ranks first in China.


The art museum finished is 24m in height, and 6 floors in total, including 4 above ground and 2 underground. There are lecture hall, studio, and conference room on B1. B2 has painting and calligraphy conservation offices, including the restoration room, lab, temporary and permanent collection warehouse. There are four floors above the ground: F1 provides clear public space for visitors, such as the bookstore, cafeteria and the conference room that can accommodate 380 people; F2 is a comparatively close space, which is primarily to meet the needs of permanent exhibition. This floor adopts the lamplight completely to avoid the harm of ultraviolet in the sunlight to paintings and calligraphies and fit for the long-term exhibition of paintings and calligraphies. The Art Museum attaches importance to the direction and changeability of lamplight, and adopt the world-leading German Erco technology; meanwhile, in order to assort with the lamplight, its ground is paved with the relatively rough rocks from South China, which has solved the problem of lamplight reflex properly. In such a clear space, the only space parameter relating to the works is the changing light, which exhibits an ideal state of contemporary exhibition. What worth mentioning is that there is a 40m collection display room on this floor, which displays the selected works of the Ming and Qing dynasty for a long period of time to facilitate the research and view. F3 and 4 are primarily prepared for large-scale exhibitions, without any column, just clear space. The Art Museum adopts a trigonal sunroof formed by a plane section of the shell to satisfy the need for light with the natural light and the need for various large-scale exhibitions. For example, F3 provides a large exhibition hall of 11m in height and about 1,000 m2  in area. Such space is not only fit for the traditional “white cube” exhibition method, but also exhibits the works fit for the site-speicific exhibition. Meanwhile, there is also special exhibition hall to satisfy the needs of diversified special exhibitions.


The space design of Art Museum can meet the needs of various exhibitions, which is not at the cost of sacrificing the aesthetic feeling of the interior. In its interior, the Art Museum only adopts the curve element of large arc surface, and marks off many lays by using irregular curves. The combination of lines and plane incorporates abundant changes and has strong modern sense. For the unification of the internal styles, the Art Museum attaches great importance to the selection and application of equipments, in particular, the lamplight and display conditions, paying equal attention to practicality and beauty, for the purpose of creating perfect and harmonious internal space.

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