Beijing Goethe Goes into Factories

The exterior of the new Goethe location is characterized by the pronounced saw-tooth roof of the former electronics factory
The exterior of the new Goethe location is characterized by the pronounced saw-tooth roof of the former electronics factory | Photo: Goethe-Institut China

The Goethe-Institut Beijing has a new building. Soon, the institute will provide a forum for open debate and cultural encounters in a former industrial facility in 798 Art Zone.

“I think this place is important just for its surroundings. The stimulating, pulsating and diversified environment around this Goethe-Institut is a wonderful opportunity to incorporate it in its own work,” said Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, the president of the Goethe-Institut. At its new location, the institute will encourage a dialogue that gives real answers and thus bears responsibility, he continued, “It will be a dialogue of practical action, a dialogue of openness and a dialogue of sustainability. Freedom of expression is a valuable asset for us.”

Beijing’s “798” Art Zone in the Chaoyang district is a place that attracts cultural professionals and art-lovers from around the world. Last year, it had about four million visitors. It is the former headquarters of a state-owned electronics factory that was built in the 1950s by East Germany.

The Goethe-Institut’s utilization scheme, implemented by the architectural office of Albert Speer & Partner, retains the elements of the Bauhaus-inspired architecture of the former industrial facility and unites it with the minimalism of contemporary German design. The 1,000-square-metre space will be open and transparent. The Agora is the central area where the Goethe-Institut aims to encourage debates and that also can be used as a theatre that seats up to 120. Visitors and partners will also be provided with a conference and exhibition space and a “knowledge bar” equipped with the latest hardware and software.

The Bauhaus elements of the original architecture were retained The Bauhaus elements of the original architecture were retained | Photo: Karel Downsbrough -db/fg-