David Chipperfield's West Bund Museum in Shanghai features recycled glass windows

The snowy white museum housing three exhibition galleries and a sweeping esplanade is a partnership between the West Bund Group, China, and Centre Pompidou Paris.

by Jincy Iype Published on : Dec 04, 2019

The West Bund Museum, located on the Shanghai Corniche - an 8.5-kilometer frontage on the Huangpu River’s northern bank - opened to the public recently. Designed by global architectural practice David Chipperfield Architects Shanghai and Berlin, the new art gallery is situated in Shanghai’s Xuhui district. A sweeping promenade connects this district to the historic Bund, a waterfront area in central Shanghai, China.

The art museum is a product of partnership between the publicly owned West Bund Group and the Centre Pompidou Paris. As part of the cultural collaboration between China and France, the Centre Pompidou is also showcasing several exhibitions at the newly-opened museum. The museum is an important part of the West Bund Masterplan, envisioned as a fresh and exciting cultural district that covers 9.4 square kilometers.

  • The museum stands as a cultural partnership between the West Bund Group and Centre Pompidou Paris | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    The museum stands as a cultural partnership between the West Bund Group and Centre Pompidou Paris Image Credit: Simon Menges
  • The architecture is articulated as white, stacked rectangular masses | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    The architecture is articulated as white, stacked rectangular masses Image Credit: Simon Menges

The museum’s architecture has been articulated as white, stacked rectangular masses, occupying a triangular plot at the tip of a public park, where the Huangpu river and Longteng Avenue meet. A raised esplanade surrounds the building, and is accessible to the public, offering breathtaking views of the river it sits adjacent to. A continuous series of soft coloured steps with landings outline the edge of the esplanade at the east side, and leads to the bank of the river.

“The design of the West Bund Museum responds to the openness of the site as well as the surrounding development of a new cultural corridor along West Bund. The willful act of twisting the three main exhibition halls breaks the conventional geometry and creates powerful interstitial public spaces. A wide esplanade opens onto the waterside promenade, offering an outdoor space for use by everyone,” said David Chipperfield.

View of the Huangpu river from the museum | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
View of the Huangpu river from the museum Image Credit: Simon Menges

The design incorporates an inclusive internal design programme, comprising three exhibition halls of 700 sqm each, a multipurpose hall with 232 seats (750 sqm), lobby space, atrium, education and workshop areas, a café, restaurant, bar, book store, cloakroom, lockers, restrooms and more.

Three white gallery volumes with self-supporting ceilings are placed in a pin wheel formation around a central lobby, with a double-height atrium. This planning allows for the museum spaces to function independently and provide unhindered views throughout. Huge windows clad with translucent, recycled glass envelope the outer façades of the three dominant volumes, creating an opaline aesthetic. Appearing iridescent during the day and prismatic at night, these façades offer panoramic views over the park, river and the city at large.

  • Inside the Museum’s foyer | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Inside the Museum’s foyer Image Credit: Simon Menges
  • Entrance from the streets | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Entrance from the streets Image Credit: Simon Menges

All three volumes are 17 metres high and contain two storeys. While the upper levels house gallery spaces, the lower levels feature diverse functional areas, such as a multipurpose hall, an art studio and education spaces. The lower levels are partially sunken and illuminated by clerestory windows.

The volumes of the daylit exhibition spaces lie on the riverbank like large translucent monoliths, while the open foyer and the access to the galleries extend the public realm as a flowing space into the interior of the museum. – Alexander Schwarz, Partner and design director, David Chipperfield Architects Berlin
  • Lower level space inside the exhibition gallery | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Lower level space inside the exhibition gallery Image Credit: Simon Menges
  • Upper level space inside the exhibition gallery | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Upper level space inside the exhibition gallery Image Credit: Simon Menges
  • Inside the 232 seater multipurpose hall| West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Inside the 232-seater multipurpose hall Image Credit: Simon Menges

The lobby at the museum can be accessed from two directions - the Longteng Avenue in the west, and the riverside in the east. Furthermore, the east side has two entry options – one can go down the recessed courtyard at the lower level of the museum, or climb up the steps of the esplanade and arrive at the central lobby at the higher level. The main gallery space can also be accessed by both of these entries.

The café and book shop are situated at the site’s intermediate levels, and is directly connected to Longteng Avenue. The quaint café sits at the edge of the river, at the esplanade’s level and under a low-slung pavilion. Its elongated shape maximises the splendid views of the river, while a lavish terrace adorns its roof.

  • (Clockwise from left) Circulation Diagram, the three exhibition volumes, movement of the sun and daylight at the exhibition spaces | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    (Clockwise from left) Circulation Diagram, the three exhibition volumes, movement of the sun and daylight at the exhibition spaces Image Credit: Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects
  • Diagram of views from the museum, to the riverside and the city | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Diagram of views from the museum, to the riverside and the city Image Credit: Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects

The entrances attract attention because of the massive tapering column that supports the atrium’s roof. The white plaster clad roof of the atrium is visible below the roofline of the gallery volumes, and cantilevers far out towards the river and the road, beyond the building mass.

Libin Chen, Partner, David Chipperfield Architects Shanghai, said that the public facilities at the museum contribute to the idea that modern museums are more than a destination for viewing art. “Together with West Bund Group and Centre Pompidou, we have allocated various public facilities throughout the building. The ground floor is designed as a public thoroughfare – with a river-side café and bookstore – allowing visitors to connect between the urban life of the street and the views of the Huangpu River,” he added.  

  • Site Plan | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Site Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects
  • Ground Floor Plan with landscape | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Ground Floor Plan with landscape Image Credit: Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects
  • First Floor Plan | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    First Floor Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects
  • Sections| West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Sections Image Credit: Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects
  • Elevations | West Bund Museum | David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and Shanghai| STIRworld
    Elevations Image Credit: Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects

The Shanghai West Bund project launched by the Xuhui district authority in 2010 holds an important place in the Shanghai 2017-35 Masterplan, and plans to make waterfront worthy of a global metropolis.

West Bund was originally a place for the national manufacturing industry in the 20th century, and is now being transformed into a public open space.  

Project Details

Name: West Bund Museum
Location: 2600 Longteng Avenue, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China
Site area: 17,700 sqm
Gross floor area: 22,000 sqm
Construction period: 2016 - 2019
Client: Shanghai West Bund Development Group Co. Ltd.
User: Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum Project (2019–2024)
Architect: David Chipperfield Architects Berlin & Shanghai
Facilities: Lobby, three exhibition halls, multipurpose hall, education and workshop spaces, café, restaurant - 100 sqm, bar, book store - 230 sqm, cloakroom and lockers, restrooms, public esplanade, steps leading to the river
Partners: David Chipperfield, Libin Chen, Mark Randel, Martin Reichert, Alexander Schwarz (Design lead)
Project Architects: Diana Schaffrannek (Preparation and brief, Concept design), Chuxiao Li (Developed design), Qianqian Zhang (Site design supervision)
Design team: Thomas Benk, Tuo Chen, Tianyuan Fan, Dirk Gschwind, Weili Huang, Ruben Kiewiet, Sihan Lai, Manus Leung, Haishan Li, Han Li, Yuchen Li, Huiqun Liu, Andras Mate, Stuart Rennie, Lijun Shen, Peggy Wong; Graphics, visualisation: Antonia Schlegel, in collaboration with Shanghai Urban Architectural Design Co. Ltd.
Lighting Consultant: Rdesign International Lighting, Shanghai
Landscape Architect: Levin Monsigny Landschaftsarchitekten, Berlin (Concept design) Beijing Orient Landscape Co. Ltd., Beijing (Technical design to Construction supervision)

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