James and Connor Steinkamp

Shanghai’s New Natural History Museum Looks Like a Crazy Ancient Fortress

1 MAY 2015

The brand new Natural History Museum in Shanghai has just opened for business, and it features the coolest water garden we've ever seen (pictured above). The museum is located in Shanghai's sculpture park and will house more than 10,000 artefacts from across all seven continents in its 4.45 hectares of floor space. 


The design, which was created by architecture firm Perkins + Will, was chosen as part of an international competition. The goal was to make the museum an extension of the park, and blend the natural with the human-made - hence the green roof, nautilus shell spiral shape and plant-cell inspired glass wall.

"The overall shape and building organisation was inspired by the nautilus shell, one of the purest geometric forms found in nature," the architects explained in a press release. "Natural elements are depicted across the building’s façades including the central cell wall representing the cellular structure of plants and animals, the east living wall signifying earth’s vegetation, and the northern stone wall suggesting shifting tectonic plates and canyon walls eroded by rivers."

The fortress-looking water garden is dug into the park itself and lets light into the lower levels of the museum.

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The building's temperature is controlled with a geothermal system that "uses energy from the Earth for heating and cooling," as the architects explain. The green roof also helps to collect rainwater, and the courtyard point provides evaporative cooling.

According to Perkins + Will, the building is "bioclimatic" and uses an intelligent skin to maximise daylight and minimise solar gain. There's no further information on what that entails, exactly, but one thing's for sure - science has rarely looked better.

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