Shanghai Natural History Museum. Source: Wallpaper Photo, James Steinkamp.
Helen Berg, Shanghai’s Natural History Museum is at one with its collection, Wallpaper*, 20 April 2015
With a captivating collection of over 10,000 artefacts – including everything from dinosaurs to deep-sea monsters and mummies from the Ming Dynasty – the new home for the Shanghai Natural History Museum, designed by internationally acclaimed practice Perkins+Will, captures the essence of nature through biomimicry.
Previously housed in the former 1920s Shanghai Cotton Exchange, the old museum suffered from space constraints and was able to display just one percent of its entire collection at any given time. In contrast, the generous new structure accommodates six levels of exhibition space and offices, a 30m high entrance lobby and an IMAX cinema, covering a total area of 45,086 sqm.
Inspired by the pure geometry of a spiralling nautilus shell, the building curves elegantly downwards, with the lower three floors dropping below ground level. Enclosed within this ‘shell’, the serene surface of a centrally placed pond gives way to a series of rocky garden terraces, in the style of a traditional Chinese ‘Mountain and Water’ garden.