Datong Museum of Art / Foster + Partners

Datong Museum of Art / Foster + Partners

© Yang Chaoying

© Yang Chaoying© Yang Chaoying© Yang Chaoying© Yang Chaoying+ 15

© Yang Chaoying
© Yang Chaoying

Text description provided by the architects. The Datong Art Museum – an important new cultural destination in China – has opened its doors to the public with a special exhibition featuring oil paintings by local artists. One of the four main buildings in Datong New City’s cultural plaza, it is set to become a new hub for the region’s creative industries. The sculptural form of the building was conceived as a landscaped plot with a series of interconnected pyramids emerging from the basement – ​​the gallery spaces are sunk below ground and surrounded by landscaped plazas. The museum’s cultural program is complemented by a series of spaces dedicated to education and learning, including a children’s gallery, media library, archives and art storage facilities.

© Yang Chaoying
© Yang Chaoying

Luke Fox, Studio Director, Foster + Partners, said: “The museum is designed as a social hub for people – an ‘urban living room’ for Datong – that brings people, art and artists together in a space where they can interact. At the heart of the museum, the Grand Gallery exemplifies this spirit with a flexible, large-scale exhibition space designed to accommodate specially commissioned large-scale works of art as well as artistic performances and other events.

Plan of the level of the great gallery
Plan of the level of the great gallery

Visitors are guided into the museum by strong diagonals in the landscaping. Entry is via a winding sequence of ramps, which lead to an open plaza below – this also provides an amphitheater for outdoor performances. Upon entering the building, visitors arrive at the mezzanine level which reveals a spectacular glimpse of the Grand Gallery, the social heart of the museum, which stands 37 meters high and spans almost eighty meters. Other air-conditioned exhibition spaces are placed around the perimeter of the museum on one level, allowing easy access. A key aspect of the building is its emphasis on education and learning with a dedicated children’s gallery flooded with sunlight through tall south-facing windows. A smaller education center and media library complete the education program and there are facilities to support artist residencies, lectures and conferences.

© Yang Chaoying
© Yang Chaoying

The four interconnected roof pyramids rise in height and fan outward to the four corners of the cultural plaza. Natural light enters the interior through skylights located at the top of each pyramid. The roof design is a direct response to the large structural span of the building and the desire to create a large, flexible volume with no columns below, while mediating small spaces from the gallery to the edges. The roof is covered with naturally oxidized curved steel sheets that help drain water and give a rich three-dimensional quality to the surface. The panels are proportioned to accommodate the large scale of the museum and their linear arrangement accentuates the pyramidal shape of the roof.

© Yang Chaoying
© Yang Chaoying

By embedding the building in the new plaza, the design relates to the scale of the neighboring cultural buildings, balancing the overall composition of the district’s master plan while maximizing internal volume. A skylight between each volume creates a naturally lit interior during the day, while creating a unique beacon for the new cultural district at night.

© Yang Chaoying
© Yang Chaoying

The building’s efficient passive design responds to Datong’s climate. High-level skylights take advantage of the building’s north and northwest orientation, using natural light to aid orientation while minimizing solar gain and ensuring an optimal environment for artwork. Sinking the building into the ground with an efficient enclosure further reduces energy requirements. The roof is mostly solid and is insulated to twice the building code requirements.

Section
Section

“Designed for the future, we hope the museum will become the center of cultural life in the city – a vibrant public destination,” Fox added.

© Yang Chaoying
© Yang Chaoying

Mildred D. Field