Futuristic sci-fi museum forms a nebulous star cloud in China
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has completed work on its Chengdu Science Fiction Museum in China and, to the firm's credit, it looks just as extraordinary as the renders promised. The building features an amorphous form that's envisioned as an expanding nebula cloud with a star at its center and hosts a futuristic interior that wouldn't look out of place in a science fiction movie itself.
As its name suggests, the museum is located in Chengdu, which is a city of 20 million and the capital of China's Southwest Sichuan province. The city is surrounded by mountain ranges and forests and has a long history that dates back thousands of years, including the Bronze Age Sanxingdui civilization, which produced amazingly detailed and otherworldly masks.
The building's interior measures 59,000 sq m (roughly 635,000 sq ft), which is divided between multiple exhibition spaces, conference halls, event areas, galleries, and theaters. A spacious central atrium is naturally illuminated by a large skylight and carefully situated glazing shows off the landscape at key points, including a large window facing a nearby mountain.
ZHA is an inspired choice for this kind of project and the museum's interior design sees the firm embracing its futuristic tendencies, with its trademark curves, as well as eye-catching lighting used to great effect.
"At the core of Jingrong Lake the new Chengdu Science Fiction Museum is within the Science & Innovation New City of Chengdu’s Pidu District," said ZHA. "Integrating with the natural landscapes along the lakeshore, the museum’s design defines nodes of activity connected by pedestrian routes that extend from the city through the surrounding parkland into the heart of the building; creating a journey of discovery that weaves between indoor and outdoor plazas at multiple levels to link the museum’s exhibition galleries, educational facilities, cafes and other amenities."
The interior of the museum is ventilated naturally and a large roof-based solar-panel array helps reduce its energy draw on the grid. The landscaping is significant too, and has been designed to make use of the adjacent lake to collect and store rainwater for natural filtration and reuse inside the building – presumably for irrigation and toilet usage, but ZHA doesn't specify.
The museum officially opened in the last few days and hosted both WorldCon, the world’s largest sci-fi event, and the Hugo Award, which is the first time the events have been held in China.
The Chengdu Science Fiction Museum is the latest in a growing line of high-profile ZHA-designed buildings to be completed in China in what seems to be a concerted effort to focus on the country, with other notable works including the gigantic Beijing Daxing International Airport and the Infinitus Plaza.