East, Beijing, is offering a Stay & Art Package that includes one night’s accommodation, breakfast, and a guided tour of the 798 Art Zone. The hotel has 369 rooms, two restaurants, a bar, a gym, and other facilities.
798 is a part of Dashanzi in Beijing’s trendy Chaoyang District. It is housed in a former industrial complex designed by East German architects in the Bau Haus style in the early 1950s. The factories eventually became obsolete, and they were going to be torn down.
Artists intially occupied some of the venues expecting them to serve as a temporary home that offered large spaces, good lighting, and cheap rents.
The site proved so popular, however, that it has evolved into one of Beijing’s most happening neighborhoods.
Up Close and Personal
I visited 798 Art Zone about 10 years ago when it was relatively new and its future still in doubt. I had a fascinating interview with one of the brains behind the project.
He said that when they started cleaning up the facility, they had no idea what a stunning interior space they were going to find.
The cantelevered ceiling had windows set at an angle that allowed in ample but indirect sunlight. The idea was to provide workers with natural light that would not be harmful to their eyesight.
Talk about a perfect space for artists!
Since then, 798 has become such a crowd pleaser that I understand that many of the original artists occupying spaces there have been priced out, moving to other parts of Beijing.
Fashion Shows and Product Launches
Now 798 is the site of product launches and fashion shows.
Sad. But at least its popularity might have saved it from the wrecker’s ball.
“In the beginning there was no chance it would survive more than a couple of years,” I was told.
“Now, there is a 50% chance that it will survive.”
That was about 10 years ago. I doubt if anyone would seriously consider tearing it down now.