Architecture can start with a program (functionalism), with a site (contextualism), or with a style/ideology (classicism, modernism, postmodernism, regionalism etc). We feel that in the 21st Century, architecture must start with ideas or concepts. Our Guangzhou Museum has eight concepts: defining, directing, framing, moving, articulating, enclosing, protecting, and extending. more
1st Concept (defining)
The site had a number of existing constraints. As we tried to solve them, we realized that the outline of our museum increasingly began to resemble the outline of the city walls of the old Guangzhou city. This became our first concept.
2nd Concept (directing)
When designing a museum, many architects focus on the artifacts to be located inside the museum. However, the Guangzhou Museum aims to be a museum of the city as well, so we decided to consider one of the city’s most prized and sacred constructions, the Chingang Pagoda, located immediately to the north of the site. We made the museum and the Pagoda engage in a tight dialogue, so the two buildings would be read together as a pair. This became our second concept. We cut large indentations into the mass of the museum so the main one would point toward the pagoda. We then cut a second indentation, looking toward Canton Tower, and then a third looking toward the future Cultural District. By showing three directions, one building would be like a Chinese compass, pointing toward the past, the present, and the future.
3rd Concept (framing)
The main indentation (toward the Pagoda) is also the central atrium of the museum. To the north, this atrium frames the Pagoda. Slightly to the right, it frames Canton Tower. To the east, it opens to the new cultural district. Framing was our third concept.
4th Concept (moving)
The central atrium offers a majestic interior cascade with water symbolizing life in the city of Guangzhou. The water of the cascade connects to the Pagoda through a canal or small river. The cascading effect is like perpetual movement, giving life to all the still artifacts of the museum. Around the cascade are the main movement vectors—elevators, stairs, and walkways.
5th concept (articulating)
As a fifth concept, the galleries are articulated through a series of parallel “living” walls that contain energy, ducts, structure, fire stairs, etc, and also help define the major galleries, providing flexible exhibition spaces.
6th Concept (enclosing)
Surrounding the museum is our sixth concept: an impressive wall made of rich, subtly mixed color and textures, thanks to a concrete treatment resembling sandstone. The wall offers irregularly placed openings to bring light where needed.
7th Concept (protecting)
The museum roof of the museum offers a landscape that is accessible to all as an impressive suspended garden.
8th Concept (extending)
Our eighth and final concept expands the roof landscape to the park surrounding the museum, demonstrating that far from an isolated object, the new museum is a whole and essential part of the city of Guangzhou. back
2nd Prize, International Invited Competition, 2015 (including GMP, BIG, EMBT, Lacaton & Vassal)
860,000 sq. feet (80,000 m2)
Lead Designer: Bernard Tschumi. Key Personnel: Joel Rutten, Nianlai Zhong, Bart-Jan Polman, Nate Oppenheim, Christopher Lee, Colin Spoelman, Kate Scott