French Embassy Beijing – Diplomatic Campus China

Beijing French Embassy, Architect, Diplomatic Building China, Chinese Design

French Embassy Beijing : Diplomatic Campus China

Beijing Building, Chaoyang District – design by SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture + others

4 Apr 2012

The French Embassy in Beijing

The French Embassy in Beijing : the perfect balance between Feng Shui and haute couture

Design: SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture and GINGER SECHAUD & BOSSUYT

French Diplomatic Campus

After the United States, Japan and India, France opens the doors of its new embassy in Beijing, China.

The highly anticipated diplomatic enclave, inaugurated by the French President after eight years in the making, was designed by SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture and GINGER SECHAUD & BOSSUYT.

The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building
pictures © Adagp-photographe Noelle Hoeppe

The very image of French rigor and elegance, the building has come to represent France on Chinese soil. Diplomatic services moved in and began operations in Autumn 2011.

With a garden at its heart, the 20,000m2 embassy consists of the Chancellery, Consulate, diplomatic residence and private apartments of the Ambassador.

Innovative functionality and a bioclimatic design are the result of a site-specific architectural approach and the requirements of a changing world.

Architect Alain Sarfati’s design is a clever interplay between the indoors and outdoors, at once solidly grounded and superbly ethereal. The rusticated foundation and granite forecourt stand in contrast to the undulating façade overlooking the garden, with its silkscreened glass veil in warm, golden hues lending signature charm. Inside, visitors are welcomed by the warm wood tones of a light-filled atmosphere.

The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building
pictures © Adagp-photographe Noelle Hoeppe

A symbol of France A central garden serves as an oasis of French soil on foreign ground. A building, designed with Cartesian rigor and precision, serves as diplomatic residence, fringed with esplanades, a service courtyard, shallow moat and grassed alleys. The French embassy in Beijing is a home away from home, both literally and metaphorically.

Superbly situated, this French enclave is enveloped by a wall that is more symbolic than defensive, bordering on the ornamental. It blends in harmoniously with the surrounding cityscape, respectful of the many who frequent this diplomatic zone – the third of its kind in the Chinese capital. Third historically, as many embassies leave their former premises to relocate here, as well as in terms of location, considering the distance from the city center and proximity to Liangmaqiao, the third beltway on the way to the airport. The French embassy stands sentinel at the entrance to the diplomatic neighborhood.

With its concentric layout, each built component of the French embassy is counterbalanced by an open area which seems to extend the space. Like the famed Forbidden City, it is a sanctuary where many pathways may be traced. Designed by a Moroccan-born French architect from Meknès, the ensemble speaks of the meeting of different worlds and inter-cultural dialogue. The site-specific approach to the project, and the focus on diversity, is coupled with the importance given to the role of representation, strengthened by the universal values enshrined in French culture. The functional program unfolds in an unmistakably Cartesian tradition, arranging the components around a central garden to form a comprehensive whole. The French touch adds a dash of fancy and just the right dose of restrained elegance.

The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building
pictures © Adagp-photographe Noelle Hoeppe

The Chancellery, Consulate and diplomatic residence occupy three sides of the complex, while the fourth is laid out with greenhouses, exhibition spaces and winter gardens depending on the season and needs. The residential area and Chancellery are above the reception and meeting rooms respectively, each opening onto the garden. This oasis of nature, divided into two levels at the heart of the complex, accommodates officials and personnel alike. The Chancellery and Consulate are located in the service tower on the corner of Liangmaqiao Avenue. Despite its modest size in comparison to surrounding buildings, the tower cuts a striking figure with its rotating blinds that provide shade and mask the number of floors, thus obscuring its true scale. Rising up mysteriously, the inner façade is draped in an opaque, silk-screened glass veil, softening the view from the inside. The forecourt gives way to two distinct entrances: one formal and official, leading to the reception rooms, the other less formal at the base of the service tower, contiguous with ground level. The result is a series of truly unique spaces with a palette of atmospheres that form a harmonious whole throughout. And from every vantage point, a view onto the garden: an inner sanctum under Beijing skies.

The embassy is the very symbol of France on Chinese soil, drawing on two distinct cultures. References to both worlds abound, revealing sources of inspiration and providing poignant contrasts, too numerous to count. Royal palace or rustic Hakka fortress? Garden à la française or Chinese courtyard? Cartesian rigor or form as symbol? The visitor is left to decide for himself. The French embassy in Beijing is much more than an office building cum residence in a more or less traditional style – it combines national features and answers to high international standards. It is a coherent whole that satisfies the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – initiated in Berlin – to group all diplomatic officers and personnel on common ground, in a building and premises that are meaningful, truly representative and vibrant. The French enclave in Beijing is a piece of France with doors wide open onto the world.

François Lamarre, Journalist and Architect

The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building The French Embassy in Beijing Building
pictures © Adagp-photographe Noelle Hoeppe

The French Embassy in Beijing – Building Information

Location : 60 Tianze lu, Chaoyang Distric, Pékin
Contracting authority: French Republic – Ministry of foreign affairs
Lead contractor: SAREA ALAIN SARFATI ARCHITECTURE, Paris, France
Architect and projects managers: Christian Laquerrière, Ovidiu Milea et Cristiana Milea
Assistant architects: Ewina Chau, Jitka Darras
Technical contractor: GINGER GROUPE INGENIERIE EUROPE
Design Institute: BIAD (Beijing Institute of Architectural Design)
Landscape architect: Florence Mercier

Executive contractor: S.AREA – GINGER GROUPE INGENIERIE
EUROPE – AES. Christian PROUVOST
Area: 19,500 m²
Chancellery : 9,713 m2
Consulate : 6,614 m2
Residence : 3,173 m2

Cost: 24 M€ HT

Timeframe:
Competition: 2004
Design studies: 2006-09
Delivery: Sep 2011

General contractor: BCEG (Beijing Construction and Engineering Group)
Facade consultant : Bernard VIRY, Nicolas GODELET
Residence decorator: Ministry of foreign affairs decoration service
Art grant: Jean-Bernard MÉTAIS, Vincent LAMOUROUX

The French Embassy in Beijing images / information from SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture

SAREA Alain Sarfati Architecture


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