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Sky Courts Exhibition Hall by Howeler + Yoon Architecture, Chengdu

An exhibition complex in a park in Chengdu revisits the traditional Chinese courtyard house, drawing on local construction techniques and materials

Set in a park in Chengdu, this project for an exhibition complex explores the internalised form of the traditional Chinese courtyard house to generate a variety of aggregated exhibition galleries within a single building. Broken up into a series of differently scaled halls wrapped around seven courtyards, the structures create a range of open spaces within the deep floor plan. This strategy has both spatial and environmental benefits.

The aggregation of courtyards within the larger building becomes a network of spaces linked by multiple paths, so the exhibition hall is at once open and subdivided. The sequence through these precincts creates a series of layered spaces with views through the courtyards. The courtyards maintain a pure rectilinear geometry while the edge of the building responds to the irregular site condition. This gives rise to a complex hyperbolic roofscape based on inward-sloping planes.



Howeler + Yoon

From the air, the inward-sloping eaves appear like tesseracts



Concept development

Concept development

sky_courts_web_2The grey brick facades have a variable texture

Passive energy control strategies are integral to the design, redeploying techniques from the traditional courtyard house in a contemporary context. Reducing dependence on artificial and mechanical sources, the network of courtyards encourages cross ventilation and exploits natural light, while the thermal mass of the brick and concrete walls regulates temperature swings throughout the day.

The project draws extensively on local construction techniques and materials. Facades are made from locally produced grey brick, thoughtfully detailed to emphasise the tectonics of the brick as a building module as well as the oblique geometries of the building. Each brick is oriented in the same direction, so that west and east walls are smooth while other facades have a serrated quality.

Reprising the geometry of the roof planes, Corten steel panels emphasise clusters of openings and break down the scale of the building. The jury was impressed by the approach to creating a simple but culturally resonant architectural language that intelligently draws on the past to inform the present.

The jury was impressed by the approach to creating a simple but culturally resonant architectural language that intelligently draws on the past to inform the present.

sky_courts_web_3This geometry is echoed in the weathered Corten window surrounds


Architect: Höweler + Yoon
Photographers: Yihaui Hu


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