in 2016, changjiang — a village in china’s shanxi province — was razed to make way for a cluster of high-rise residential towers. within this context of fast paced urban development, vector architects was commissioned to build an art museum that would serve as a shared cultural space for the community. consequently, the design team began the project by considering the best way to integrate the building within its surroundings.
vector architects positioned an outdoor staircase at the southwest corner of the plot, which leads upwards to an open terrace. elevated above street level, and capable of hosting public activities, this plaza also connects to a independent footbridge that welcomes visitors and residents from the northern edge of the site. the galleries of the changjiang art museum are articulated around a large lightwell measuring 5.7 meters (19ft) in diameter and 16.4 meters (54ft) in height.
‘the lightwell is both the starting point and the end point,’ the architects explain. ‘people will start from passing through the bottom part of the lightwell, walk along the spiral staircase coiling up to the galleries while inadvertently looking back into the lightwell through the apertures at different levels, and eventually conclude the journey stepping down from the top gallery along the light well again back to the starting point.’