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Confucius Gardens Dance and Arts Centre

Part 1 Project 2008
Roger Ashman
University of Huddersfield Huddersfield UK
Located in central Kunming, China, the Confucius Gardens provide a needed relief from the busy city centre.
The area lies in the middle of an urban basin, surrounded by towering buildings which provide an acoustic barrier.

Previously the site lay mostly redundant. Locals would use areas to play traditional board games and musicians used the decrepit buildings as rehearsal rooms. The site was rarely explored and so was mostly unused.

The dance and arts centre extends the historic gardens continuing their tranquil characteristics. It encompasses an Art gallery, Library, Sculpture Gardens, Restaurant Café, Traditional Games Room, Theatre and Dance Studios for use by the general public and practicing performers.
The aim of the design is to create a place for the general public to enjoy, hidden from the city.

A concept of "Progressing to a Beyond" develops in many ways through out the design.

Visitors are first aware of the site through a passageway beside the ancient gardens. Wooden pillars line the path and introduce the built form. Shards of sunlight penetrate through the trees and strike the ground. Activity can be seen in the distance. Visitors progress, driven by the noise and apparent movement.

The art gallery is entered via a rough copper passageway; it’s texture heightening the awareness of the space. Once through, the gallery opens into a huge airy volume and visitors are confronted with a looming granite block marking the start of the gallery.

The gallery takes two forms; one, the granite sculpture housing and two, hanging art positioned on the walls. The housing space is washed with defused sunlight whereas the sculpture galleries are lit to create a much more sinister atmosphere framing the sculptures. Thick granite walls give the sensation of progressing to a beyond.

The arrangement of blocks creates vistas which act as the gallery’s driving force. Also as the gallery climbs the rising landscape with a series of ramps, the roof remains level creating an increasing enclosure towards the perceived exit.

At night the glowing lights of the theatre transform the centre and draw visitors through the gardens towards the bustling bar.


Roger Ashman


The Confucius Garden design is a contemporary interpretation of the Chinese walled garden. It is proposed as a means of repairing an under used area of the city of Kunming in a manner which brings calmness and repose in an otherwise hectic urban environment.

The site has a history of community gatherings and interaction through dialogue, games and music. The proposal acknowledges and enhances that history through the inclusion of a range of communal facilities.

Architecturally the project is very subtle. There are no overt references to Chinese style, yet the careful use of materials and attention to detail evoke a Chinese aesthetic that is both non derivative and yet appropriate. By exploring the architecture in as timeless minimalism, the author captures a culture in a state of flux and demonstrates that a sense of identity is as much about atmosphere as it is about event. Ultimately it is a question about the real nature of the vernacular.

Tutor(s)
Mr David Brindley
Mr Carl Meddings

2008
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