Zhejiang Museum of Natural History

The Zhejiang Museum of Natural History is the centrepiece of a new cultural area near Dipuzhen in eastern China, an area renowned for its extensive bamboo forests. The new museum is set on a sloping site in a large natural park overlooking rice fields in the valley below.

Zhejiang Museum of Natural History

The Zhejiang Museum of Natural History is the centrepiece of a new cultural area near Dipuzhen in eastern China, an area renowned for its extensive bamboo forests. The new museum is set on a sloping site in a large natural park overlooking rice fields in the valley below.

From a cultural and museological point of view, the museum operates in a similar way to the Liangzhu Musuem, with single black box exhibition interiors offering adaptability for an undetermined collection including objects of varying scale. The emphasis is therefore placed on the building and its relationship to the landscape.

A composition of eight single-storey pavilions stepping down the hillside frame an open space conceived as a central garden. In total they respond to a twelve-metre difference in height between the northern and southern boundaries of the site. Their rectangular forms are set at right angles to the slope. A loggia, or covered walkway, reminiscent of classical cloisters, mediates between the central garden and the exhibition pavilions, between inside and outside, between the natural and the manmade.

At the northernmost point, an entrance pavilion welcomes visitors and offers views across the central space and the landscape beyond. On either side of the garden are the exhibition halls. These can be visited independently by crossing the garden or in sequence following the stepped loggia.

Green roofs spill over the edges of the building, while water features prominently in both the central garden and the larger park. The pavilions are rendered in red ochre matching the clay earth of the hillside site in which they are embedded, reinforcing the relationship between the museum and landscape.

Project start:
2014
Completion due:
2018
Gross floor area:
58,000 m²
Client:
Zhejiang Museum of Natural History
Architect:
David Chipperfield Architects Shanghai
Partners:
David Chipperfield, Libin Chen, Mark Randel
Project architects:
Alessandro Milani (competition) Miguel Angel, Shen Huiwen, Chuxiao Li
Contact architect:
Zhejiang South Architecture Design Ltd.
Landscape architect:
Levin Monsigny Landschaftsarchitekten (schematic design), Zhejiang South Architecture Design Ltd. (design development)
Structural consultant:
Arup
Structural engineer:
Zhejiang South Architecture Design Ltd.
Services engineer:
Zhejiang South Architecture Design Ltd.
Lighting consultant:
Sunlux Lighting Design