Exhibition of Frozen Time

Beijing, China
Waterfrom Design
Kuomin Lee

Architecture is one of the few agents that can mediate between traditions and modernity. By reconfiguring sequences of space and transforming building programs within it, the typical image of a building function is altered to raise many possibilities in usage. Studying the project Exhibition of Frozen Time—a reinterpretation of Aqua Health Clinic by Waterfrom Design—we can further understand this complementary relationship.

China is known for its roots in traditional Eastern medicines, using natural ingredients such as herbs and minerals. Celebrating this heritage, Aqua Health Clinic aims to reshape how one experiences physical and psychological therapies with a modern approach. The brand maintains medical principles as its core in developing specific treatments for visitors, infusing them with cosmetic spas and advanced technology for sophisticated performance.

The name Exhibition of Frozen Time comes from the viewpoint that each ingredient acts as a tangible carrier of time being caught at the moment. It, among many other, becomes a treasured specimen that enriches one's life with its characteristics. This viewpoint is implemented across the space, presented in transparent displays like artistic installations. Together, they form a floating landscape of reconstructed nature within a minimalist structure.

Treating the space as a museum, Waterfrom Design builds a palette of oceanic blue, warm grey, and brown accents. The geometric greeting reception is a translucent screen at the entrance that holds a cubic volume of natural black stone. Right across is a glass box encasing preserved lichens and patches of vegetation—a dynamic take on the waiting bench. Beyond the glass structure, a branch of Enkianthus curves gracefully as a soft invitation to come in.

Through a tunnel of concrete arches, one first passes through the Facialcare area. The concaving ceiling creates an optical effect that pulls all views toward the installation of flora below. Its white light emitting from inward is balanced with a warm light cascading from above for a pleasant atmosphere. Navigating toward the centre of Aqua Health Clinic, one is met with the Haircare zone, bounded by large transparent glass panels. Its ceiling is a misty photograph of foliage silhouettes reminiscing of the works by Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung.

Beyond the glass box are private rooms dedicating to Bodycare. Their walls are elevated and indented with running threads of soft light, lifting the visual weight of the materials. Re-emerging from the inner space, a hue of aquamarine fills the eyes with serenity. The TMC clinic, with its striking wall installation depicting fluctuating water levels, embraces its environment with rounded partitions and an intimate furniture setup. Connected to the clinic is a communal tea room graced with a long table. Behind it, a reimagined Chinese ink wash painting lies in stillness. Its colours and undulating forms pay a tender homage to the past, with touches of the presence.

Exhibition of Frozen Time is an elegant project that brings forth tenderness in its flow of space. Minimal in appearance, it acts as a large canvas painted with an array of contemporary installations. Although modern, its details reminisce old structures and ancient objects, transcending time and space. Through the minds of Waterfrom Design and Aqua Health Clinic, it truly is an abode for the body and the mind.

In the shop