Ma Lu Art Museum


Anaïs Trembling

ARCH 501

The Ma Lu Art Museum aims to create a space of artistic refuge for Ai Weiwei and other artists that are bound by the limitations of their freedom of expression imposed by the government. In order to create a space free of suspicion, the architecture of the museum displays a false sense of symmetry, transparency and simplicity. The Museum is located on the site that previously held Ai Weiwei’s now-demolished studio. In analyzing Ai Weiwei’s artistic processes and focusing on his use of the readymade and repetition, the Museum’s form derives from the Chinese courtyard house typology. This typology creates a sense of expectation and familiarity that can then be used to camouflage spaces from the public eye. Ai Weiwei’s archive, storage and workspaces as well as circulation routes are hidden within the form and wall thicknesses that have been removed or hollowed out. Service rooms, ambiguous in size, are also used to camouflage the existence of the hidden spaces. Skylights are placed on top of slanted roofs and open up into the hidden rooms within the hollowed out ceilings. Further, the facade detail brings additional light into the hidden spaces. The remaining program includes rooms for artists, workshops, a kitchen and a living space that promote communal living and conversation. People regularly sat with Ai Weiwei at large restaurant tables in order to show their support. To parallel this subtle act of rebellion, the main circulation path leads to a long dining table located in the furthest and most private courtyard in the Ma Lu Art Museum.