is a studio for architecture, planning, and design based in Saint Louis, USA.

Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition

Shenzhen, China

The typical museum introverts itself, focusing on displaying exhibits. This typical type forgoes numerous opportunities to create dynamic relationships outside of itself. As a museum grows in size, its inherent interiority becomes even more problematic. The large museum usually creates a world of its own in which a visitor often loses an understanding of the whole and the museum’s connection to the city.  While we believe this otherworldliness is a virtue of the large museum; a contemporary, civic minded, sustainable museum cannot simply turn itself inward, denying its responsibility to the civic.

interior view from level 2_shenzhen museum

In order to reverse this situation and allow this large museum to breathe, we use an urban method to break the museum into 4 “blocks” connected by sloping “streets”. People browse the museum at the perimeter of the blocks, activating the interior “streets” and the facade of the museum. The facade reveals the inside subtly through a patterned glass thermal wall. Traditional Chinese colors red and yellow distinguish each museum.
section showing energy strategy for shenzhen museum
On the ground level, we achieve maximum accessibility to the public through a promenade and the interior “streets” that bisect the museum into blocks. The North-South interior “street” connects the bus stop to the south and the Youth Activities Hall to the North.  The promenade offers access to the museum stores, cafes, libraries, and offices and the park.  The museum’s enormous scale and open perimeter also connects to other surrounding Shenzhen cultural buildings and city hall.  At the center of the museum is the “square” where ramps offer access to the two museums.

floor plates and open circulation_shenzhen museum

The Contemporary Art Museum and Planning Exhibition are understood as one museum with maximum interface between each and the exterior. We achieve this through a simple interlock, not unlike the ying-yang diagram. As important, the interlock allows three possible visitor experiences.

1.ABAB – an alternating path between both museums.
2.AB – a seamless circulation through both museums.
3.A/B – a continuous experience of one museum.

viewing angle and skin color_shenzhen museum

Chinese architecture has yet to develop a modern language. We propose to use elements of Chinese architecture, such as the use of the traditional colors of yellow, red, black, and green, along with subtle references to traditional form and plan making. However, the references to the local vernacular are not limited to the cosmetic. The building takes a form in order to passively heat and cool the building, linking the building to the climate of Shenzhen.

shenzhen museum at night2

perimeter promenade with patterned skin to left_shenzhen museum

Program: Contemporary Art and Planning Museum

Area: 60,000 sm  (646,000 sf)

Design: 2007

Location: Shenzhen, China

Collaboration: Forrest Fulton Architecture and BOX

2 Responses to “Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition”

  1. Bruce Lanier says:

    I like this one, and the imagery is really enticing. 1.2 million square feet is colossal, but it seems to be in scale with its context and I can imagine driving (and maybe walking) around that bright lenticular skin. Intriguing project.

    • admin says:

      Thanks. It’s useful to compare to the entry from Coop Himmelblau that won : This is a final image, much different than their first round entry, but it appears to show nearly 400 meters of smooth monolithic wall at the street level perimeter. That’s a lot. It’s a condition of the huge blocks. In my opinion, these huge blocks asks for a critical approach to that given scale. I might do a future post that shows a comparison to the scale of the Forbidden City to Shenzhen city center. Most principles are the same, but the scale is completely different. It’s also useful to compare a typical Frank Gehry monolithic project to the winning entry. He usually mediates his large monoliths with some type of ground manipulation or building edge creasing.

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