Bernard Tschumi Architects' recently-completed Exploratorium is a scientific museum dedicated to Tianjin, China's long industrial history and is host to various different examples of technology, including rockets related to the country's space research. The building is defined by a series of large cones that help reduce its energy use.

The Exploratorium has a total floorspace of 33,000 sq m (355,200 sq ft) and features an eye-catching reddish aluminum facade that sports many perforations and small porthole-like windows that allow light to enter inside.

Bringing to mind NYC's Guggenheim's atrium, the interior of the building is centered around a large coned space that's topped by a skylight. Its porthole-like windows and lighting are intended to give the space a constellation-like feel, complementing the rocket installation that takes pride of place.

A spiraling ramp ascends to the top level, allowing visitors to reach the roof and enjoy choice views of the city. Elsewhere in the building, the smaller cones are used for housing exhibition spaces and other areas, including restaurants and retail space.

Interestingly, the cones also function to keep the interior well-lit and a comfortable temperature, reducing the need for artificial lighting and air-conditioning.

"The cones provide even, natural light to gallery spaces and reduce the energy loads required for artificial lighting," says Bernard Tschumi Architects. "Their tapered forms also concentrate warm air, which can then be channeled out of the building in summer or back into the galleries in winter. Glazing surfaces are minimized except when desired for program. The perforated metal panels of the facade help reduce heat gain. The central, large atrium acts as a solar chimney, drawing up hot air and replacing it with cool air from below in a constant airstream."

The Exploratorium was constructed in collaboration with Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, and is part of a larger cultural center masterplan that is also home to MVRDV's futuristic library. It's set to open to visitors later this year.

View gallery - 10 images