Four overlapping steel pyramids form sunken art museum
Having begun construction back in 2011, Foster + Partners' Datong Art Museum has now finally officially opened to visitors. The ambitious arts building is defined by a complex roofline made up of four overlapping steel pyramids that are designed to resemble natural peaks rising out of the ground.
The Datong Art Museum measures 30,000 sq m (roughly 320,000 sq ft), and features three main floors, plus a basement level. Most of the building's structure has been sunken into the ground to try and ensure it doesn't dominate the local landscape, which has been undergoing development. In addition to its visual complexity, the roof itself is well insulated to help tackle the local weather, which can produce significantly fluctuating temperatures. Its form also helps to drain rainwater and skylights are installed to maximize natural light.
"The roof is clad in naturally oxidized curved steel plates that help drain water and give a rich, three-dimensional quality to the surface," explains the firm. "The building's efficient passive design responds to Datong's climate. High-level skylights take advantage of the building's north and north-west orientation, using natural light to aid orientation while minimizing solar gain and ensuring the optimum environment for the works of art. Sinking the building into the ground along with a high-performance enclosure further reduces energy needs. The roof is mostly solid and is insulated to twice the building code requirements."
The museum’s landscape includes a series of winding ramps which lead down into a sunken plaza that serves as an amphitheater for outdoor performances. From here, the interior of the building proper is accessed. This is arranged around a large Grand Gallery that has a ceiling with a maximum height of 37 m (121 ft) and a minimalist decor that puts the focus on the art. Elsewhere in the museum are a dedicated children's gallery, a smaller education center, and a media library, plus there are facilities for artist residencies and conferences.
The museum has launched with an exhibition featuring oil paintings by local artists and joins a remarkably strong selection notable museums throughout China, including the Shanghai Astronomy Museum, the National Maritime Museum of China, and the upcoming Delta Natural History Museum.
Source: Foster + Partners