BEIJING – The Beijing Rose Museum was specially built for the 2016 International Rose Exhibition, which opened in May. Next Architects was given the commission after winning an invitational competition. Neither the brief nor the budget were known, only a guideline for the required floor space. Moreover, there was no master plan for the 100-hectare garden in which more than 2000 varieties of roses were to bloom.
The lack of grip on the programming and design of the interior made John van de Water and his Chinese partner Jiang Xiaofei approach the museum as a ‘closed box’ with a façade draped around (and over) it. The 40-cm-thick, 300-m-long and, on average, 17-m-high stainless steel façade was brought to the construction area in prefabricated parts and welded and polished on the spot.
‘The perforated façade, which refers to the art of papercutting, seems decorative and very Chinese, but is also functional and Western,’ says Van de Water. This Western element lies mostly in the zone between the box and the façade, which can be used for different purposes and implies transparency and accessibility simultaneously. The building, 25 km south of the Forbidden City, is now closed to the public; the flower exhibition only lasted a few weeks. But there is hope that the complex will be given a new function due to developments in the area, including the construction of a new airport.