The ‘Aranya Art Center’ is a newly designed contemporary gallery by Shanghai-based architects Neri&Hu; located in the seaside resort Aranya Gold Coast, in Qinhuangdao, China. The architects describe the venue as a solid rock, “sitting firmly in the shifting environment.” Making use of textured concrete as its primary material both inside and out, the building takes its form in a rectangular volume, arranged around a large internal conical void that acts as an indoor-outdoor amphitheater.
When not being used for artistic performances, the space and its cascading steps doubles as a courtyard, the lowest level of which fills with water, transforming itself into a pond. Whilst palpably the venue takes cues from Brutalist architecture, the gallery’s design attempts to “encapsulate the natural wonder of water at its core,” explains the architects. “Aranya as a community has a strong emphasis on the spiritual nature of their lifestyle ideology, a oneness with the environment,” they continue. “So the design scheme is as much about the internal courtyard, a communal space for the residents, as it is about the exhibition being displayed in the center.” The gallery’s facade is punctuated by occasional windows that let light in; which, when combined with ambient lighting and an open roof, complement the artworks by adding brightness to an otherwise austere colour palette.