Chi She is the name of a group of artists founded by Zhang Peili and Geng Jiangyi, characterized by their interest in realism. Their exhibition space in the West Bund Art Exhibition Area seeks to evoke an enigmatic spatial appeal, through the desire to harmonize and integrate the building with its surroundings, while at the same time offering a formal expression of the artistic mission of the works contained inside. The hope is that this building might provide a sensitive and generous art space, where various artistic events, such as exhibitions, creative workshops and informal communication can occur.
The existing exterior walls were retained, shored up and structurally reinforced as necessary, in order to achieve the maximum space possible. In order not to affect the space perception of this area, part of Chi She’s roof has been lifted up to give those inside an unobstructed view of the sky. The roofing structure has been replaced by a more efficient, lightweight tensioned timber structure, a section of which has been raised to bring in the light and connect those inside to the changing climate outside.Grey-green bricks were chosen to blend in with the existing structure and applied to the exterior surface to offer an interface with the coutryard. The entrance wall has been warped slightly, as a form of architectural expression that conveys current cultural trends based on tradition.
In order to complete such a complex form of masonry construction that could not have been achieved using traditional methods, robotic masonry fabrication techniques were employed on site, utilizing advanced digital fabrication technology. The external walls were built using recycled grey-green bricks salvaged from the old building and constructed with the help of a technologically advanced robotic arm to generate a curved surface, to express the vitality of the Chi community.
The precise positioning of the masonry using robotic fabrication technologies transforms the traditional materials of bricks and mortar and allows them to be seen in a new era in a new light.. The integration of these salvaged bricks into a new stretch of curving wall narrates a story of people and bricks, machines and construction, design and culture, which will be etched into the shadows of the external wall under the setting sun.