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Beijing 798 Contemporary District

Beijing 798 Artist District

Beijing’s search for a contemporary art colony has resulted in the reinvention of the 798 factory, an industrial complex designed by East German architects of the Bauhaus school of thought in the early 1950’s.  The factory was established as one of 156 “joint factory” projects initiated under an agreement to observe military-industrial cooperation between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.  Initial plans for the factory complex reserved 640,000 sq meters of low-lying farmland in the northeast corner of Beijing.  The factory was to occupy 500,000 sq meters of land, with 370,000 sq meters reserved for living quarters.  The massive factory complex, originally given the numerical designation 718, began production of modern electronic components in 1957 and operated lucratively for 10 years before it was fractioned into 6 more manageable sub-factories; 706, 707, 751, 761, 797, and 798.  Governmental reforms during the 1980’s weakened support for many state owned enterprises resulting in the rapid decline of the joint factories and by the early 1990’s nearly all production had ceased.

Located in the Dashanzi Art District, 798 has become the avant-garde scene for artistic exploration in Beijing.  Meander through the shaded streets of this visually tantalizing village popping in and out of galleries hosting exhibits from China’s most cutting edge artists and observing artists at work in well-lit studio spaces .  The factory boasts a wide array of galleries with an emphasis on high-level cultural, artistic, and commercial works in this invigoratingly rich contemporary arts enclave.