Datong Art Museum Building, Foster + Partners China Project, Chinese Cultural Design, Architect

Datong Art Museum Building, China

5 January 2022

Datong Art Museum opens to the public

Design: Foster + Partners

Location: Datong, Shanxi Province, China

Datong Art Museum Building, China by Foster + Partners

Photos by Yang Chaoying
Drawings by Foster + Partners

Datong Art Museum

Datong Art Museum – an important new cultural destination in China – has opened to the public with a special exhibition featuring oil paintings by local artists. One of four major buildings within Datong New City’s cultural plaza, it is set to become a new hub for creative industries in the region.

Datong Art Museum Building, China by Foster + Partners

The building’s sculptural form has been conceived as a landscaped terrain with a series of interconnected pyramids emerging from below the earth – the gallery spaces are sunken below ground and surrounded by landscaped plazas. Complementing the museum’s cultural programme are a series of spaces dedicated to education and learning, including a children’s gallery, media library, archive and art storage facilities.

Datong Art Museum Building, China by Foster + Partners

Luke Fox, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners, said: “The museum is conceived 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 generously scaled, flexible exhibition space designed to accommodate specially commissioned large-scale artworks as well as performance art and other events.”

Datong Art Museum building roof plan

Visitors are guided towards the museum by strong diagonal paths in the landscaping. The entrance is via a winding sequence of ramps, which lead down into an open sunken plaza – this also provides an amphitheatre for outdoor performances. Entering the building, visitors arrive at a mezzanine level that reveals a spectacular overview of the Grand Gallery, the social heart of the museum, which measures 37 metres in height and spans almost eighty metres.

Datong Art Museum building grand gallery level

Datong Art Museum building mezzanine plan

Further climate-controlled exhibition spaces are placed around the perimeter of the museum on a single level, allowing for ease of access. A key aspect of the building is the focus on education and learning with a dedicated children’s gallery, filled with sunlight from tall, south-facing windows. A smaller education centre and a media library complement the education programme and there are facilities to support artists residencies, talks and conferences.

Datong Art Museum Building, Shanxi Province

The four interconnected roof pyramids increase in height and fan outwards towards the four corners of the cultural plaza. Natural light streams into the interior through roof lights, located at the apex of each pyramid.

Datong Art Museum building section

The design of the roof is a direct response to the large structural span of the building and the desire to create a vast, flexible column-free volume below, while mediating the smaller gallery spaces towards the edges. The roof is clad in naturally oxidised curved steel plates that help drain water and give a rich, three-dimensional quality to the surface. The panels are proportioned to suit the large scale of the museum and their linear arrangement accentuates the pyramidal roof form.

Datong Art Museum Building, Shanxi Province

By sinking the building into the new plaza, the design relates in scale to the neighbouring cultural buildings, balancing the overall composition of the district masterplan while maximising the internal volume. A clerestory between each volume creates a naturally lit interior during the day, while creating a unique beacon for the new cultural quarter at night.

Datong Art Museum Building, Shanxi Province

The building’s efficient passive design responds to Datong’s climate. High-level skylights take advantage of the building’s north and north-west orientation, using natural light to aid orientation while minimising solar gain and ensuring the optimum environment for the works of art. Sinking the building into the ground along with a high-performance enclosure further reduces energy needs. The roof is mostly solid and is insulated to twice the building code requirements.

Datong Art Museum Building, Shanxi Province

“Designed for the future, we hope the museum will become the centre of the city’s cultural life – a dynamic public destination,” added Fox.

Photographs © Yang Chaoying ; architectural drawings © Foster + Partners

Datong Art Museum Building images / information from Foster + Partners, 050122

Foster + Partners, London, UK

Previously on e-architect:

Datong Art Museum

Location: Datong, Shanxi Province, China

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