This project for the Shanghai Natural History Museum is consistent with Chinese garden design in that it approaches the spirit of nature, but does not imitate it. Through its relationship to the site, it represents the harmony of man and nature and is an abstraction of the basic elements of Chinese art and design.
The museum sits adjacent to an urban sculpture park. The shape and building organization are inspired by the nautilus shell, one the purest geometric forms found in nature. A spiraling landscaped plane rises out of the park and terminates in a roof deck which provides views of the park and surrounding city. Within this spiraling plane is an oval courtyard which contains a stepped garden composed of rock formations and water features which recalls the tradition of the “Mountain Water Garden.” This courtyard serves as an orientation device for the exhibition areas which spiral down below grade.
The facades express the museum’s message and content. The structural network and sunscreen lining the curved inner façade facing the oval courtyard, are an abstraction of patterns found in traditional Chinese garden pavilions and also suggest human cell organization. The north wall suggests the layering of tectonic plates. The east wall is a living wall, bringing the horizontal plane of the park onto the vertical surface, forming an arcade and representing the vegetation of the earth’s surface. These features focus our awareness on the fundamental elements of the natural world: plants, earth and water.Location: Shanghai, China Architects: Perkins + Will
Project: Shanghai Natural History Museum
Area: 45,000 sqm