Zaha Hadid Architects' new arts museum, MICA, opens in China

Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Arts Centre designed by ZHA induces fluidity to a linear urbanity in China.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Dec 05, 2019

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, MICA, the new art museum of Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Arts Centre opened to the public in Changsha, Shenzhen, China with its first exhibition. The centre incorporates three major functional spaces - a contemporary art museum, a 1,800-seat Grand Theatre with supporting facilities and a Small Theatre that acts as a multipurpose hall.

The centre has been planned in such a way that it offers views towards the adjacent Meixi Lake from the city, and provides access to the parks and walking trails on the lake’s Festival Island. This collective of three separate cultural institutions creates external courtyards where pedestrian routes intersect, forming intriguing spaces for outdoor events and sculpture exhibitions. The organic architectural language of the building has been defined by these pedestrian routes that weave through the site to connect with the neighbouring streets.

  • Three separate buildings - the Grand Theatre, the art museum and the Small Theatre form the centre | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    Three separate buildings - the Grand Theatre, the art museum and the Small Theatre form the centre Image Credit: ©Virgile Simon Bertrand
  • Interior of the Grand Theatre | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    Interior of the Grand Theatre Image Credit: ©Virgile Simon Bertrand

Making it easily accessible to the public, this newly opened culture and arts centre is the largest and most versatile cultural centre in Hunan province, and is well-connected with Changsha’s new metro system. Following Changsha’s tradition as an important centre on historic trade routes for communication, the centre’s Grand Theatre will host popular programmes of performances and television productions. The theatre creates an edge with sculpted lobbies, bars and hospitality suites, as well as necessary ancillary functions including administration offices, rehearsal studios, backstage logistics, wardrobe and dressing rooms to cater to the smooth functioning of a wide range of performing arts.

The centre provides views towards the Meixi Lake | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
The centre provides views towards the Meixi Lake Image Credit: ©Virgile Simon Bertrand

The art museum (MICA) includes eight juxtaposed exhibition galleries covering a total of 10,000 sqm of floor space centered around an atrium for large-scale installations and events. The museum also houses dedicated areas for community workshops, a lecture theatre, café and a museum shop.

The flexible nature of the Small Theatre makes it a multipurpose hall with a capacity of 500 seats that can be transformed into different configurations to accommodate a broad range of functions like plays, fashion shows and music performances to banquets and commercial events.

  • The organic form of the structure gives it a unique form in the urban fabric | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    The organic form of the structure gives it a unique form in the urban fabric Image Credit: ©Virgile Simon Bertrand
  • Interior of the art museum | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    Interior of the art museum Image Credit: ©Virgile Simon Bertrand
  • Atrium filters in light | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    Atrium filters in light Image Credit: ©Virgile Simon Bertrand

Though the three civic institutions totaling to an area of 1,15,000 sqm are unique in their nature and definition, they still complement each other with separate working hours that create vitality throughout the day and evening.

The first exhibition at MICA is also now open; Flowing Eternity is an immersive exhibition by MOTSE, a group of 40 artists and scientists based in Shenzhen.

  • The Meixihu International Culture & Arts Centre in the fabric of the city | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    The Meixihu International Culture & Arts Centre in the fabric of the city Image Credit: ©Virgile Simon Bertrand
  • Sweeping curves define the interiors of the entire centre | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    Sweeping curves define the interiors of the entire centre Image Credit: ©Seven7Panda
  • The organic structure of the entire complex | Art Museum | China | STIRworld
    The organic structure of the entire complex Image Credit: © Virgile Simon Bertrand

Project Details

Project name: Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Arts Centre
Location: Changsha, Shenzhen, China 
Area: 115,000 sqm
Year: 2019
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) 
Design: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher 
ZHA Project Director: Woody Yao, Simon Yu 
ZHA Project Leader: Simon Yu 
ZHA Project Team: Zhenjiang Guo, Charles Kwan, Jinqi Huang, Neil Sansom, Pravin Ghosh, Thomas Jensen, Justin Kelly, Wandy Mulia, Uli Schifferdecker, Adrian Aguirre Herrera, Aurora Santana, Koren Sin, Johanna Huang, Yifan Zhang, Collin Spelts, Fei Liang, Adam Fingrut, Yitzhak Samun 
ZHA Schematic Design: Zhenjiang Guo, Charles Kwan, Jinqi Huang 
ZHA Museum Design: Tariq Khayyat, Kutbuddin Nadiadi, Diego Rossel, Gerry Cruz, Matteo Melioli, Xiaosheng Li, Yuxi Fu, Thomas Jensen, Matthew Johnson, Justin Kelly, Drew Merkle 

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