The history of The Temple Hotel in Beijing spans back to the early Qing Dynasty when it was first built as three Tibetan Buddhist temples, located between the Northeast corner of the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park. This area where the temples are situated was also the site for imperial printing workshops that date even further back to the Ming Dynasty, producing Buddhist sutras and religious books for temples around Beijing and elsewhere in China. In 1949 soon after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, however, a large number of Beijing’s 3,000 former temples were converted into factories and other kinds of utilitarian spaces, or were demolished as the city gradually started to modernize. Over the course of time, Zhizhusi, the temple that today lies at the very heart of The Temple Hotel complex, was also neglected, and was at one point even used as a storage space, slowly and ultimately falling into disrepair. In 2007, when the founders of The Temple Hotel first came across the site, they discovered that it too would be demolished if no entity stepped forward and made an attempt to renovate it.
When The Temple Hotel team decided to take up the challenge of renovating the centuries-old Buddhist temple, they had one very important goal in mind, which was to conserve and preserve all of the buildings’ history. In order to do this, they brought in specialized architects, surveyors, and small teams from knowledgable construction companies, who then methodically removed the rubble and debris from the site, uncovered the columns, and very carefully restored every beam and every tile from the structures. It took the restoration team a few years to complete the project, but finally in 2012 when it was finished, The Temple Hotel received a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award of Merit for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Today, in addition to being a beautiful first-class boutique hotel, it is also a cultural venue that is open to the public every day, and is widely regarded as one of the best examples of heritage preservation in the Asia region.
The Main Hall, both the architectural core and showpiece of The Temple Hotel, is regularly used for hosting cultural events, such as theater performances, music recitals, film screenings, formal banquets, and other art happenings. The buildings running along the Eastern side of The Temple Hotel have been tastefully fitted for conferences and meetings with period furniture and art installations. Even the lighting, both natural and artificial, in and around these spaces has been carefully considered to enhance and draw out the spiritual aspects of this former temple. During sunset, there is indeed a magical and intangible quality to the natural light that fills up these rooms.
In the Gallery, The Temple Hotel exhibits its own art collection; the space regularly features the work of local and international artists. Past art events have included private viewings of classical and contemporary carpets, documentary and art film screenings, outdoor projections in the courtyard outside the main hall, as well as performances from world-famous musicians, and an ongoing series of classical music recitals. In the past few years, the photography work of Robert Doisneau, He Chongyue, and Irene Kung have all also been exhibited at the Gallery. Art and culture have always been an integral and vital part of The Temple Hotel’s identity. According to its founders, the reimagined space has always been planned as a living museum and cultural arts space.
东景缘酒店的画廊里不仅拥有自己的艺术典藏品；且常常举办中国和世界各地艺术家们的作品展。过去举办过的活动有古典和现代地毯私享展、纪录片和艺术电影放映、在礼堂外进行户外投影，以及世界知名音乐家的演奏会和一系列的古典音乐演出。在过去几年中，Robert Doisneau、He Chongyue和Irene Kung的摄影作品也在画廊里展出过。艺术和文化一直是东景缘酒店不可分割的一部分。酒店创建人的想法，一直都是要将改造的这个空间当做是生活博物馆和文化艺术空间。
The Temple Hotel is home to the permanent installation Gathered Sky by world-renowned American artist James Turrell. His first and only work in China, Turrell’s installation spectacularly explores light, color, and the subtle nuances of human perception. It is also China’s only Skyspace, a specially constructed room with an open ceiling that allows visitors to view the sky above. Over the course of a few hours, viewers can observe the slowly changing colors of the sky during a sunset, juxtaposed with the shifting colors of the controlled artificial lighting within the chamber. The effect is a surprisingly moving, contemplative, and at times deeply personal experience. Sunset viewing sessions may be attended by the general public every Saturday and Sunday with the purchase of an admission ticket.
东景缘酒店是世界著名美国艺术家James Turrell的装置作品《Gathered Sky》的永久陈列处。作为他在中国的第一个且唯一一个作品，Turrell的这个装置进行了对光、色彩、以及人的微妙感知的探索。这也是中国唯一的Skyspace装置艺术——一个特别建造的房间，敞开的天花板，可以让游客观赏上面的天空。游客在几个小时内就能在这个房间内看到日落时天空慢慢变化的色彩，同时伴随着的还有人工控制照明的颜色变化。视觉效果令人感动和沉思，让人为之惊奇印象深刻。公众可以在周六或周日买票来观看日落灯光艺术。
Upcoming art events this year include the screening of Air of Earth, a chapter from the six channel video installation Earth-Water-Fire-
今年要举办的活动有《Air of Earth》的放映，《Air of Earth》是韩国多学科概念派艺术家Kimsooja（金守子）的六频道视频装置《Earth－Water－Fire－Air》中的一章。自3月16日起，她的作品将于每晚6：30到11点间在礼堂外投影播放。今年夏季，还有法国艺术家Olivier Roller的摄影展，展出西安兵马俑和古罗马雕像并置的图片。到秋季，东景缘酒店正在和常青画廊谈展出比利时视觉艺术家Hans Op de Beeck的视频艺术，以及展出瑞士摄影家Irene Kung的新作品。本年度文化活动规划的多种多样，加上这里建筑群的饱满历史，使得东景缘酒店成为游客和本土艺术爱好者的必到之地。下次您来北京，一定要去观赏！
Shatan Beijie Songzhuyuan 23
Dongcheng District, Beijing
People’s Republic of China
Phone: 8402 1350
Contributor: Leon Yan
Images Courtesy of The Temple Hotel & Ben McMillan
Image of Aire de Tierra / Air of Earth Courtesy of Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp and Kimsooja Studio
Video Courtesy of The Temple Hotel