▼一层迷宫“感知沉没”整体外观，展览入口，Overall Image of the 1st Floor Maze at the Entrance ©夏至
This experimental project aims to explore the possibilities of spatial narratives. In traditional art exhibitions, space only plays the supporting role of dividing the functional spaces and setting off the atmosphere; while in this exhibition, the protagonists are no longer just the exhibits but the “walking” experience of the visitors, which is promoted and magnified to an equal position of the works on display. By creating a series of immersive experiences, architects use space as a language to guide people to perceive the meaning of “existence”. “Maze” is the prototype of the design: architects create a homogeneous yet multi-layered space within the limited exhibition hall by folding, intertwining, extending, and penetrating the visiting routes, as well as setting unpredictable entrances and exits. As a result, the visiting experience becomes an immersive journey with plenty of expectations and explorations. Meanwhile, the complexity and contradiction of the paces arouse a sense of misconception, which stimulates the visitors in the maze to pursue the hiding meaning on their own.
▼一层迷宫“感知沉没”空间渐变，The Gradual Spatial Change of “The Sunken Perception” on the 1st Floor ©王一迪，袁梦
The exhibition is located at the Wind H Art Center designed by Dong Yugan. The building is designed to let the visitors feel as if they are touring a traditional Chinese garden: its interior spaces are interconnected spatially and visually. Visitors are often faced with multiple choices and even a sense of disorientation while switching between different rooms of the building, which may be distracting and make the entire exhibition experience fragmented. Therefore, the original space of the gallery is at odd with the purpose of creating “immersive experience” and “spatial narratives”. By controlling the entrances and exits of each exhibition hall, the architects reorganized the spatial sequence into a continuous closed visiting loop, where the origin also marks the destination. Within three main exhibition halls, the once free or dreary spaces are carefully re-planned into controlled but dramatic one-way visiting routes with one entrance and one exit each. The overall visiting experience is divided into three chaptered connected by one continuous story line.
Overall Circulation and Story Line
Chapter 1 The Sunken Perception
Being an insider or outsider would generate entirely distinct perception of the same object or incident. This is the only ‘chapter ’in which the visitor could perceive the appearance of the space. An invisible surface extruded from an ascending exponential curve cut the maze horizontally, making the walls grow taller gradually from the entrance side to the deep inside. As a result, the ‘plan section ’of the maze is directly exposed to the visitors in the entrance lobby, which gives them a clear sense of the path they are about to take before they enter the maze.
Axonometric of the 1st Chapter, “The Sunken Perception”
Plan and Circulation of the 1st Chapter, “Then Sunken Perception”
Sectional Perspective of the 1st Chapter, “Then Sunken Perception”
However, while the visitor walking into the maze and getting further, the parapets are growing taller at an accelerating pace. Suddenly, he would find himself surrounded by walls, just like stepping into the deep ocean from the shining beach, the perception of the space is sinking until he totally gets lost. Only at this moment, one could realize how different it is comparing the narrow space he is currently situated to the maze he saw outside. Within each branch road and choice, or behind the corners the “multi-maze” brought about, one might bump into a surprise of hidden artwork, a disappointing dead end, or another corner that has appeared many times before. After a series of turning until reaching the deepest part of the maze, the visitor would enter a hidden open showroom. The great contrast of the spatial scale pushes the “story” to a certain climax, or it just calms down.
▼一层“感知沉没”迷宫肌理，Maze of “The Sunken Perception” on the 1st Floor ©夏至
The way out is different from the coming path. The space is the same, but the experience is reversed. The visitor would perceive the space from two perspectives, which changes from the omniscience in one’s conceit before entering the maze to a restricted perception and even lost after being inside it.
▼ 一层迷宫“感知沉没”迷宫深处 ©夏至
Deep into the 1st Floor Maze “The Sunken Perception”
The architects put a set of stairs on a branch road of the maze towards a secrete room on the second floor. Through the only access, one could observe the whole path of the maze and people within it. This is the only place, where one could step back from the confusion.
▼一层迷宫“感知沉没”密室俯瞰，Aerial View of the 1st Chapter, “Then Sunken Perception” ©夏至
Chapter 2 The Folded Space-Time
People do not exist in a single space-time, but always in an intertwined past and future. In other words, the past and even the future are both situated at one’s present.
Axonometric of the 2nd Chapter, “The Folded Space-Time”
In “Chapter 2”, through a set of matrix system, the architects divided the showroom into smaller units. While fully displaying the artworks, the circulation is dissolved into the maze through means of openings on the partition walls, including doors and windows. A unidirectional, irreversible route is weaving back and forth within the matrix but never overlapping with itself. The linear timeline is folded with the folding space. The exhibition circulation is extended as the visitors’ expectations are reinforced. Meanwhile, the small windows on the walls become the “time warp” that connects the future and the past.
▼第二章“时空折叠”示意图，Diagram of the 2nd Chapter, “The Folded Space-Time” ©相也建筑
Time is linear, but its linear attribute is taking the changes of space as the reference. It is hard for one to tell where to go and where he has been in these homogeneous space units under the matrix layout, in which only the exhibits are the symbols of those moments. Under this circumstance, these randomly placed small windows with different sizes and “other space” they are framing become the signal of passing time. The space behind the window might be the way one must step on in the future, or the place he has already been. Just as both the past and the future are only fragmented memories or imaginations, through the window you see only parts of the past or future. It is always the parts that could stimulate people’s desire of peep, as well as the sense of suspense. When you see other space or watch each other with another person through the window, you and your future/past exist in different space, but at the same moment.
Framed View of the 2nd Chapter, “The Folded Space-Time”
▼二层迷宫“时空折叠”空间透视，Perspective of the 2nd Floor Maze, “The Folded Space-Time” ©夏至
Beyond the single unidirectional main circulation of the maze, the architects set up two branch roads at the first half and the second half of the “story” respectively. Both branches have dead ends, laid against each other. In this place, the walking ways are blocked, but the visual connections are built by a window. Meanwhile, the red light that drop in become the symbol of this space. The light diffuses here, permeating into two “times”. People in the two space-time could talk to each other, but one has just started his journey, while the other one is approaching the ending. However, they are staring at each other at the same moment, sharing the same atmosphere in red.
The Fork of “The Folded Space-Time” on the 2nd Floor
▼二层迷宫“时空折叠”岔路尽头，The Cul-de-sac of the “Folded Space-Time” ©夏至
Chapter 3 The Stretching Vision
Long journey awaits in the future, yet the past contracts in memories.
▼ 第三章“视觉伸缩”轴测图 ©相也建筑
Axonometric of the 3rd Chapter, “The Stretching Vision”
Perspective Analysis of the 3rd Chapter, “The Stretching Vision”
The exhibition space in the “3rd chapter” is a long and narrow corridor, which is split into two with a wall at a slanted angle. These two even narrower retractable corridors lay against each other, but have large contrast in space height, light and shadow, which generates an illusion on visual perspective: before stepping into the corridor and looking forward, the corridor getting narrower lengthens the path in the visitor’s vision, while after passing it and look back, the widening corridor looks shorter than it is. The architects presented the different psychological experience of coming and going at the same time length through adjusting the space.
▼第三章 “视觉伸缩”入口，Entrance of the 3rd Chapter, “The Stretching Vision” ©王一迪，袁梦
In the three “chapters”, by manipulating the rhythm of narratives and emotions in a sequence of space, the architects created an immersive experience that complements the work of 14 artists. While the exhibition space serves as the container of artworks, it is also an unique exhibit in the form of “maze,” which expresses the architects; understanding of “existence” from another dimension.
The exhibition “Existence” was unveiled on March 18th, 2021, hosted by Wind H Art Center, and assisted by Click Ten Company, marking the first exhibition of the year. Curated by contemporary art critic, independent curator, and female art researcher Liao Wen, the exhibition presents the works of 14 artists during the COVID-19 quarantine. The exhibition halls are “fully enclosed” independent spaces for each artist, creating a state of “forced isolation”. The unique exhibition experience breaks the traditional way of visiting and encourages the audience to actively explore the space and engage in the exhibition, thus stimulating and attracting a broader attention to the topic of “Existence”.
▼展览实景：特别的空间体验，Exhibition: special space experience ©夏至
展览设计地点：北京市 朝阳区 山中天艺术中心
Design Period: 2021.01-2021.03
Exhibition Period: 2021.03.18-2021.05.09
Project Location: Wind H Art Center, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Host: Wind H Art Center
Assistance: Click Ten Company
Architect: Mutuality Architects
Project Manager: Wen Wang
Lead Architects: Wen Wang, Mingxuan Qin
Design Team: Pengcheng Sun, Yang Fei, Adam Jichao Sun
Editor: Mingxuan Qin
Photographer: Xia Zhi, Yidi Wang, Meng Yuan
Mutuality Architects contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org