Xizhimen has been the northern gate of the capital, Beijing, since ancient times. The gate marked the entrance of drinking water for the Emperor, coming from the Jade Spring Hills to the west of Beijing.
The ancient original gate was demolished in 1969. In 2004, with every key site in Beijing having almost incalculable value for commercial development, this site became available but would only proceed if the development would also become an unquestionable landmark.
The site itself is surrounded by the interwoven flow-lines of the road, light railway, subway and footpaths with cars, people and trains running to and from along them.
It was earmarked as a major transport node for the city. With such a vibrant neighbourhood, creating an equally dynamic architecture that interacts like a ‘heart’ with its ‘blood vessels’ became the ultimate challenge.