The New Beijing Art Auditorium Inspired by... Art

By Dominique Wong, March 16, 2017

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Apart from being one of the most prominent artists of the 20th century, Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali said many memorable – and surprisingly lucid – things, like the classic: “I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” Or: “I am not strange. I am just not normal.”


Galatea of the Spheres, Salvador Dali (1952)

In the case of the new art auditorium on Xidawang Lu, an up-and-coming cultural neighborhood of Beijing, his musings on artists ring particularly true: “A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” 

Designed and completed in late 2016 by Penda Architecture and Design, Hongkun Art Auditorium hosts lectures, readings and small exhibitions. It’s also a work of art in itself: A 270-sqm interior that includes a box made up of arches, mirrors and steps inserted into the middle of the room.

Penda drew inspiration from Dali and another 20th-century artist, M.C. Escher, to create a reflective and interactive space of multiple dimensions.

From the outside, visitors have a clear view of the box. Its steps lead down towards the meeting space, as well as toward themselves, due to a mirror inserted into the center of the box.

Once inside, visitors can either walk around the box to a small lounge to the left, or up the staircase to the right, which leads to an office space.

Anchoring the area is a central cube, which adds a warm sense of whimsy, its round cutouts forming circles that are reflected on the side and ceiling of the box’s interior. 

The arches are reminiscent of Escher’s tessellating shapes as well as his lithograph prints, such as Relativity, while the overall interior landscape reflects shades of the distorted realities so favored by Dali.


Relativity, M.C. Escher (1953)


Galatea of the Spheres, Salvador Dali (1952)

From the get-go, the auditorium is truly interactive and surreal to experience. According to Penda, there was a need to “connect the public to artists [and] create a direct link to art itself.” 

Penda also designed the Hongkun Museum of Fine Arts, which is next door on Xidawang Lu. Although the museum’s aesthetic differs to the auditorium, the white space is also flush with arches and counter-arches, thus forming a pleasing symmetry with the latter.

But alas, one gem from Dali no longer holds true: “The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret.” 


Images by Xia Zhi 




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