12 aug 2021


TAG Art Museum, Qingdao, China

The Artists’ Garden


A poetic space for artists and those who are passionate about art, a place where emotional responses to seeing the sea can be shared, a great central garden, with fishermen and their boats, a small creek, parasols, and a rectangular harbour.


An exceptional program

– A museum

– Shops

– A marina

– A hotel based on the theme of art, for art lovers, collectors and visitors – but also for artists

– Wonderful artists’ studios, spacious or very spacious, communicating with the landscape, having close-range or distant views over the woodland or the sea, the boats and the skyline, where a whole future is being built

– Secure, sheltered car parks where cars can be parked safely with minimal impact on the environment


A mysterious, dreamlike world

The response to this program cannot be conventional. The museum and hotel cannot consist of two massive, compact buildings set in the middle of the site. Our proposal is to create artists’ gardens where people’s behaviour, encounters and ways of living, both inside and outside, belong to an imaginative, mysterious and dreamlike world.

The first big question is how people are to experience, travel through or cross a site of eleven hectares over a kilometre long, while discovering links, objects, and buildings in harmony with each other, that all belong to some unidentified story.


A museum-promenade

The museum needs to be flexible, but it should remain a museum. Our proposal is to link up several large rooms of the kind extremely well-identified in the world of museography. We also suggest an ‘outside–inside’ promenade that will travel through the museum’s main rooms along the water’s edge and among the trees, with carefully chosen and controlled views over the sea and deep into the undergrowth. We propose a clearly identifiable line that will align several buildings of contrasting characters.


A canopy that defies the seasons

The hotel will be located on a crossing point of the site that is approximately 500 metres long. The difficulty in terms of enjoying life all year round regardless of the seasons, is to be able to protect yourself from the sun, the rain and the cold. A great long painted canopy is a step in the right direction, allowing us to discover the nature of the site. Everyone will take the long painted canopy to access the hotel rooms, restaurants and shops, as well as the museum.

In winter, transparent curtains of various degrees of translucency would be deployed. Other retractable passageways will lead into the woodlands, extending the promenade toward the artists’ studios or the museum entrance. For servicing, small electric vehicles will run along these covered axes and access all the hotel rooms via the lifts.


Contrasting architectural structures

Over the canopy, a terrace planted with tall grasses will be inhabited by rooms and studios with views of the sea and/or the woodland. These structures, placed on top of the canopied support, will create a line of constrasting, diversified architectures, which thereby become so many unexpected identities, the responses of artists and artists’ hang-outs.

To the east, the entrance to the artists’ gardens will lead directly to the hotel as well as to the car parks located nearby. The boundary will be planted with trees, some tall, others bushier. Additional studios will sit on top of the long car park buildings, plainly asserting their presence.

To the north, at the end of the great canopy, the existing harbour will be doubled in size by pontoons, where the pleasure craft of visitors and collectors will dock. Shops will line the port and will be made of concrete in an architecture offering a high level of protection.


The artists’ gardens will invent themselves along such lines whereby every hotel room, every studio and every museum room will express the presence of an artist and the artistic impulse. This world, promoting expressivity and difference, will invent itself starting from a site that has generated these various scenarios. They will fuel the imagination and the act of the artist. The gardens are evidence of the importance China places on the presence of urban artists and the mark artists leave on the urban fabric.


Jean Nouvel