The conversion and extension of the Chinese National Museum combines the former Chinese History Museum with the Chinese Revolutionary Museum. Completed in 1959 as one of ten important public buildings in Tian’anmen Square, in direct proximity to the Forbidden City, the museum still constitutes a milestone in history of modern Chinese architecture. Outline schemes for the conversion and extension project were invited from ten international architectural firms, the proposal by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) together with CABR of Beijing being adjudged preferred bidder, ahead of Foster and Partners, Kohn Pedersen Fox, OMA and Herzog & de Meuron etc. The original submission by gmp envisaged gutting the existing museum. The central block would be removed, and the large space thereby created spanned by a bronze flying roof linking the old building and the extension. The flying roof was planned to house the main exhibition on Chinese history, with a direct view towards the sights of the city. Following a discussion with the client and Chinese architectural experts, this scheme was revised, with the aim of integrating more of the external impact of the old building in the new building, though without abolishing the immediately obvious distinction between old and new. This would allow the building itself to illustrate the continuity of history.
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