by Jerry ElengicalNov 26, 2022
Channelling the undulations and topographical flow of its lakeside context, the Qintai Art Museum in Wuhan, China, by Shanghai-based practice Atelier Deshaus melds into the nearby terrain, as a series of fluid terraces outlining a pair of interlocking hill-like structures. Overlooking Meizi Hill to its south, beyond the city’s Moon Lake in its vicinity, the structure offers an engaging public space along its roof, composed of a series of flowing terraces stacked in a manner reminiscent of an architectural contour model, as an organic extension of the landscape it rests on. Extending down from a vertical façade along its road-facing side, that imbues a more conventional sense of architectural morphology to the complex, the terraces ebb and flow towards the shore of the lake, culminating in a stepped green space along the lower levels.
As per Atelier Deshaus, this innovative configuration of space was implemented as a means of softening the imposition of the museum’s architectural massing towards the surface of the lake. To supplement this, the museum’s exhibition spaces have been submerged below the established ground level, beneath the terraced roof. Nearby, the land to the west of the site is slated to serve as another public plaza, in proximity to the location for the planned Wuhan Library and Drama Centre, which alongside this project, will redefine the urban character of Moon Lake’s banks in the future, according to the architects.
On the western side of the plot facing the planned plaza, the main entrance takes form as an inward-looking void in the terraces, inviting in its openness yet intimate in its sense of enclosure. Risers clad in silver metallic finishes wrap around the steps, topped off by white stones that fill the treads. Evoking the natural materiality of stone, the restrained use of texture and colour here is a fitting complement to the dynamism and motion of the terraces, culminating in swathes of landscape design along the lower levels, that provide a vibrant counterpoint to the building’s exterior. As an intriguing study in the creation of artificial landscapes that evoke the geometries of nature, the project blurs the lines between topographical and architectural intervention.
Meandering pathways slice across the extent of the terraces, their heights governed by the ebb and flow of the roof structure. Forming an avenue for public circulation that has been devised to endure beyond the lifetime of the museum, these planked ramps connect the structure’s lower floors to the second level and rooftop terrace. Entirely open to the public, they also link the bank of Moon Lake to exits leading out from the museum’s exhibition spaces, forging a framework of public areas that exist independently of the main functional program. In this regard, public activities occurring here make full use of the building’s architectural surface.
The lobby, galleries, and exhibition spaces inside harness the silent and subtle materiality of exposed concrete. Augmenting this controlled palette, the spatiality of the interior design is quite vast and monumental, reflecting the stateliness that most explorations into museum design strive to embody. Eschewing ornament in favour of an austere, almost brutalist-inspired aesthetic, the design pays particular heed to the behaviour of light within each space, with strategically placed crevices and clerestories, scooped out from enclosing concrete surfaces, allowing light to pierce the interior. Strong geometric design sensibilities permeate the internal spaces, a stark departure from the fluidity of the roof and façade design.
Under its functional program, the art museum accommodates spaces for public education, an art shop, a café, and other public spaces, in addition to display areas for artwork. Circulation pathways through the exhibition spaces are not set, and various sub-zones are segregated using floating walls. Therefore, unique spaces dedicated to the showcase of contemporary art, modern art, classical art, as well as for special exhibitions, could either be traversed independently or ordered along a single route, depending on the need of the hour. Hence, this flexibility lends itself quite well to a plethora of applications that can be tailored to suit the requirements of different exhibitors. The walls defining spaces not only act as surfaces for the display of content for each exhibition, but also as supports for the billowing roof structure, which features rhythmic coffers along certain sections of its surface.
Rippling and cascading down towards the water, in a lively blend of matte stone textures and verdant vegetation, Qintai Art Museum is an innovative venture in the merging of structure and landscape. Forming a harmonious expression of form that resonates with its context, the complex could prove to be a landmark new addition to the shores of Moon Lake in the years to come.
Name: Qintai Art Museum
Location: Zhiyin Avenue, Hanyang District, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China
Floor Area: 43,080 sqm
Site Area: 33,600 sqm
Year of Completion: 2021
Client: Wuhan City Construction Group Co., Ltd.
Architectural/Interior Design: Atelier Deshaus (Schematic design, Design development, Interior design)
Design Team: Liu Yichun, Chen Yu, Wang Longhai, Hu Chenchen, Chen Hao, Shen Wen, Chen Chihhan, Tang Yun, Zhang Xiaoqi, Wu Wenchao, Deng Rui, Liu Xin, Pang Zirui, Wang Jiawen, Cao Ye
Collaboration: CITIC General Institute of Architectural Design and Research Co., Ltd. (Construction drawing, Structure, M&E)
Landscape: Wuhan Institute of Landscape Architectural Design Co., Ltd.
Structural Consultant: AND Office (during schematic design)
Façade: Shanghai CIMA Engineering Consulting Co., Ltd.
Floodlighting: Huajian new era (Wuhan) Engineering Design Co., Ltd.
Interior and Exhibition Lighting: Shanghai Zen Lighting Co., Ltd.
Signage: Nanjing Hanqingtang Design Co., Ltd.
General Contractor: China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Group Co.,Ltd.
Interior Contractor: Shenzhenwenye Decoration & Design Engineering Co.,Ltd.