Excerpt: Shunchang Museum is a cultural space designed by the architectural firm UAD. Designed in response to local context and based on a people-centred principle, the museum is not merely a space that collects and displays exhibits. The museum is an exhibit, platform, and symbol for the city where it sits. It carries the nostalgic sentiments of local people and interprets the past and future of local culture. Taking the architecture as a medium, the design team constructed a “traversable urban garden”, which opens to the city in multiple dimensions and connects the mountain and stream.
[Text as submitted by Architect] Shunchang Museum is located in a county that features a unique location. As they approached the project, the architects studied the internal connection between the site and the city. They balanced the local context with metaphorical creation. They worked to let the building integrate into local citizens’ daily life and carry the memory of those residing in places far away from their hometowns. Designed in response to local context and based on a people-centred principle, the museum is not merely a space that collects and displays exhibits. The museum is an exhibit, platform, and symbol for the city where it sits. It carries the nostalgic sentiments of local people and interprets the past and future of local culture.
The project is located in Shunchang County, Nanping City, in Fujian Province. Shunchang is surrounded by mountains, with Futun Stream passing through. The project’s programs include a museum, an urban planning exhibition centre, office rooms, and cultural relics storerooms. Meanwhile, with consideration of the operation of this venue, the architects engaged in functional planning and positioning and added some extra functions such as an auditorium, book bar and café.
2. Design strategies
2.1 Connectivity and openness
In line with the long, linear plot between mountain and water, the architectural form ensures the connection between human flows and the walking trail along the stream and dialogues with the surrounding natural landscape in a positive gesture. Taking the architecture as a medium, the design team constructed a “traversable urban garden”, which opens to the city in multiple dimensions and connects the mountain and stream.
2.2 “Urban living room.”
Considering that the project’s site is a vital node of the slow-traffic system along the stream, the architects lifted the ground floor of the building to form a large transitional space, which is available to accommodate a large volume of human flow and extends to the bank of Futun Stream.
This area creates an “urban living room”, which blends into the urban setting in an open gesture. This place is enlivened by skateboarding boys, singing buskers and dancing groups. It provides a venue for the citizens’ daily life activities, cultural events and, in turn, is enriched by the citizens.
2.3 Visiting routes
The design team took the “urban living room” as the starting point of the spatial sequence, organized the main entrances of the museum and the urban planning exhibition centre, and considered the possibility of the independent use of the temporary exhibition hall and the auditorium. The visiting routes of the museum and the urban planning exhibition centre are centred on their comprehensive halls, respectively, linking up a complete visiting circulation route.
The connecting space between the museum and the urban planning exhibition centre is a cultural & book bar that incorporates display functions. The ramp spirals upwards and extends to the rooftop terrace, which connects with the riverside walking trail and helps integrate the building’s interior circulation route into the city. This is a crucial feature of architectural space organization, enabling people to identify intangible spaces through the tangible internal and external architectural surfaces.
2.4 Urban terrace
Through significant steps, the riverside walking path connects and extends to the building’s rooftop, forming an urban terrace that provides a panoramic view of the fascinating scenery of the mountainous county. To create a complete accessible rooftop, the architects reasonably arranged architectural equipment. The atrium surrounded by the architecture’s external walls not only satisfies the daylighting demands for office rooms but also meets the ventilation needs of equipment rooms.
2.5 Preserved tree
An existing big tree on the site is retained and moved to the centre of the “urban living room” to absorb sunshine and create a visual highlight in the space while enhancing a sense of affinity for the architecture. The big tree is a symbol of the site’s memory. While the varying external environment injects new vitality into urban life, the presence of the new architecture enriches the citizens’ activities. The giant tree is a witness that carries stories of the small county in the past and future.
3.1 Structural system
The building adopts a frame-shear wall structure to maximize the openness of the “urban living room” and introduce natural daylight into the open-air atrium. Shear walls on both sides support it. Through curved trusses that span 48m, open column-free space on the ground floor is created.
The oval-shaped atrium is the soul of the “urban living room”. However, the large void may cause incomplete structural space. Short trusses pull up the atrium’s east side to avoid this. In contrast, its west side stretches downwards to connect with the ground floor, subtly realizing the initial design concept.
The project mainly employs stones, glass and specular stainless steel panels to form a simplistic, massive yet modern architectural image. Triangular specular stainless steel panels with a side length of 1,200mm are applied to the suspended ceiling of the atrium. Under daylight, the reflective suspended ceiling produces a mottled light and shadow effect while also generating a distinct contrast with external walls, which feature rough natural textures. In addition to recording the daily activities in the “urban living room”, the mirror-like ceiling also echoes the mountains and water in the surroundings, making people feel like they are walking into a painting reflected by mirrors.
3.3 Stone techniques
Granites are applied to the main building body and the walls of the museum’s vast hall, each piece of which has a size of 1,000mm*300mm and a thickness of 120mm, cut naturally. The minimum thickness is controlled at 40mm to meet the mounting requirements of curtain wall bolts. All granites were cut manually, forming random natural textures and achieving a harmonious and unified effect after being put up on the walls.
Simplistic and clean granite panels clearly outline the building’s curves. The arbitrary rough wall textures respond to the local mountains, revealing a unique charm between gracefulness and solidness.
The project took five years from the conception of the design scheme to completion. However, the local cultural context and memories it carries have lasted for more than a thousand years. The building is fused into local citizens’ life in a friendly and open way, evoking people’s resonance and imagination about traditional cultural space.