He Art Museum, a well of light on the culture of Lingnan


La Cuisine International


Lingnan is a region of South China with a vast cultural heritage ignored until now, but one that soon will have a new home to be exhibited. The He Art Museum will be the place that will house the diverse art exhibits of this region in a big way, through a spectacular structure designed by the Studio Tadao Ando Architects & Associated that will be inaugurated on March 21, 2020 at the same time of the Spring festival.

Light on southern China

The use of natural light is the axis of a building that stacks a series of discs of different sizes, creating a sort of inverted truncated cone. The upper floor is crowned with a transparent dome through which the entire museum is flooded with light.

The base of the building consists of a square gallery that includes a cafeteria and an open-plan library, where all the space is surrounded by a magnificent dual-spiral staircase that directs visitors to the different exhibition spaces, all with circular shape.

The impression that the museum gives from the inside depends on the height at which the visitor is: if you are on the ground floor and look up, you’ll see the staircase ending in a large glass eye. As you climb the stairs, you may feel lost in an endless spiral, and from the top down, you can see a spiral opening over a precise square.

This festival of sensations was inspired by Chinese cosmology: the belief that we live on a square-shaped earth in a circular sky, representing the union between the circle and the square, a recurrent image in Chinese artistic expression.


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Harmony, balance and union

The monogram depicting the name of the museum represents the values of harmony, balance and union in its meaning and the architect Tadao Ando has taken them as the main inspiration to develop a design that, upon implementation, will be the center of Cantonese culture.

More than 400 works belonging to the He family’s personal collection -who finance the construction through the Midea Group- will constitute the permanent exhibition, joined by several exhibitions of regional and national artists, such as the Mundane World by Feng Boyi for the opening.

Gastronomic art will also be present in the museum through an exclusive Cantonese restaurant and visitors will also be able to enjoy a concert hall.

Honoring the East Venice

Jiangnan is a region of China full of canals and waterways that has earned the nickname of the Venice of the East in that country, so water could not be excluded from such an important project.

Tadao Ando, winner of the 1995 Priztker award, included the element in his design with a pond located next to the unique building, which will add continuity to the work while refreshing the subtropical landscape through the reflection of its facade.

Regarding the project that is close to open its doors, the architect has said: “I imagined HEM as an energetic central anchor point for all artistic and regional customs, climate, landscape and civilization in Lingnan.”

So, as of this month, the residents and tourists of the city of Shunde in Lingnan will be able to enjoy art and architecture in a breathtaking construction that will embrace the best of China’s ancient culture.


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