Shanghai art museum by Atelier Deshaus brings together vaulted columns and an industrial relic

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These new shots by photography duo Hufton + Crow depict the Long Museum West Bund – a contemporary art gallery in Shanghai built around an industrial structure once used for unloading huge quantities of coal (+ slideshow).

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

The museum – one of 15 architecture projects shortlisted for the Design Museum's 2015 Designs of the Year awards – was designed by Shanghai firm Atelier Deshaus, led by architect Liu Yichun.

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Liu's strategy for the project was to create a contemporary building that also referenced the history of its site, which became a wharf for coal transportation in the 1950s but had most recently housed an underground car park.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

The most prominent remnant of the site's industrial heritage was the coal-hopper unloading bridge. Measuring 110 metres long, 10 metres wide and eight metres high, it spanned the site on a north-west to south-west trajectory.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

Rather than demolishing this, or even building alongside it, Liu chose to make the structure the centre of his building. Not only does it frame the museum's entrance, it accommodates a temporary exhibition space.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

"Against the charmless basement slab, the conveyer loading bridge built in the 50s, a relic of Shanghai’s industrial culture, increasingly displayed a loneliness and solitude," explained the architect.

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"I do not believe that the engineers when they designed this platform ever had thought about the aesthetic aspect," he said.



"However, a few decades later, this platform became a pure visual and spatial landscape construct, a beautiful object, when it lost its original function."

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

The existing basement car park dictated a structural grid of 8.4-metre intervals, providing the project with its largest constraint. To get around this, Liu developed a "free-wall plan", allowing rooms to flow into one another.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

"Nowadays, for most people, visiting a museum no longer means a sequential contemplation of one room after another," he said.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

"Especially for contemporary art, its exhibition, its being viewed, even its process of being created; all of them anticipate an uncertainty," he continued. "Viewing an art piece then is to allow the body move with a consciousness, to realise a sense of freedom, which is the critical reason why we choose the free wall plan."

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

Architecturally the building's form was created by the repetition of one element, referred to as the "vault umbrella". It comprises a concrete column that curves out towards the top, so that it looks like separated halves of an arch.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

These are dozens of these elements throughout the building. Some stretch all the way to the roof, while others frame exhibition spaces on the ground floor. But they all line up with the existing structural grid.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

"In this structural transition, the freedom of wall positioning is critical," said Liu. "This freedom is not only about location, but also about direction, so this umbrella-shaped cantilever extending from the wall became the undoubted choice."

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

"It was like completing a puzzle – we wanted the roof to be a full cover, the lobby to be a long span space, B1 gallery to be a spirally downward space, second floor to be an open courtyard, and also have to take into account the possibility of multiple and single routes of exhibition," he added.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

There are three main storeys defined within the building – a ground floor, a first floor and a basement.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

Contemporary art galleries are located on all three levels, but the basement also includes exhibition spaces for more historic collections.

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow

The archive also occupies the basement, while the upper level accommodates an auditorium and a restaurant overlooking the river.

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Photography is by Hufton + Crow.


Project credits:

Architects: Atelier Deshaus
Architect in charge: Liu Yichun, Chen Yifeng
Design team: Liu Yichun, Chen Yifeng, Wang Longhai, Wang Weishi, Wu Zhenghui, Wang Xuepei, Chen Kun
Structure, electrical & mechanical engineer: Tongji Architectural Design
Structure, electrical & mechanical design team: Chao Si, Zhang Zhun, Shao Xiaojian, Shao Zhe, Zhang Ying, Shi You, Li Weijiang, Kuang Xingyu, Zhou Zhili
Lighting design: Shanghai Guangyu Lighting Design
Client: Shanghai Xuhui Waterfront Development

Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow
Axonometric diagram – click for larger image
Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow
Basement plan – click for larger image
Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow
First floor plan – click for larger image
Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow
Section one – click for larger image
Long Museum West Bund by Deshaus photographed by Hufton + Crow
Section two – click for larger image
  • Rafael

    Oh this is lovely.

  • spadestick

    Stunning concrete work! Elegant system of vaulted roofing. China’s future is brighter with architects like these.

  • Yoshi Hayashi

    Concrete at its best.

  • http://www.asjp.com.au asjp.

    Beautiful concrete forms.

  • Chris MacDonald

    Oh, I could so make this in Sketchup! Seriously though, it looks stunning. Those cavernous interior spaces and detailing are wonderful. The quality of light looks fantastic.

  • Petr

    Architecture in China is really exciting at the moment, especially the concrete projects.

  • kat_zue

    Finally the politics of completely erasing history to bring modernisation into the country is changing.

  • Paris Hilton

    That’s hot.