Tianjin Ecocity Ecology and Planning Museums / Steven Holl Architects


Rising from the reclaimed salt pan and polluted tide flats of Bohai Bay, China, a new city designed for 350,000 inhabitants is being constructed from scratch. The ambitious project is being realized as a collaboration between the governments of Singapore and China with an overarching goal of becoming a poster-city for state-of-the-art sustainable aspects.

With nearly a third of this new “Eco-City” of built and substantial completion projected for 2020, the internationally renowned practice Steven Holl Architects has been commissioned to design the first two buildings in the city’s cultural district: the Tianjin Ecocity Ecology and Planning Museums. Like the Chinese “Bau Gua” or “Yin Yang,” these forms are in reverse relations, as the Ecology Museum is the “additive” complement to the “subtractive” space of the Planning Museum.

Learn more about Holl’s design after the break.

© Steven Holl Architects

Each museum will be 20,000 square meters with a service zone connecting them below grade, bringing the total construction to 60,000 square meters. A high speed tram running between these two museums connects to the central business district of Eco-City.

© Steven Holl Architects

As described by Steven Holl Architects, “The Ecology Museum is organized in three “ecologies” of Earth to Earth, Earth to Man and Earth to Cosmos. The experience begins with an orientation projection space next to a restaurant and retail opening to the ground level. World Ecology exhibits begin a sequence moving up a ramp to Eco-technology on Level 2 and 3. Level 4, 5, and 6, of this building are open plan offices with views to spaces below. Four outdoor green roof terraces open out from Level 2 with living exhibits changing with the seasons.

© Steven Holl Architects

“The Planning Museum, entered directly from the shared public plaza defined by the two buildings, opens to an introduction area and a temporary exhibition area. A large Urban Model Exhibition (all of the Eco-City) is followed by a theory and practice zone. Digital projections will facilitate the potential to update and increase information. Transportation and industry exhibits follow on Level 2 with escalators loading to an interactive section and 3D Cinema on Level 3. On Level 3, there is a restaurant with views out to the sea. Escalators lead to Level 5 with Green Architecture, landscape and water resources exhibitions. This skylit large open top level has access to the green roofscape.

© Steven Holl Architects

“The nearby Bohai Sea site has an ancient history as part of the Great Ridges of Chenier, which developed over thousands of years. The huge mounds of shells, a magnificent testimony to the power of nature, inspire the sliced edges of the mounds defining the public space around the new Ecology and Planning Museums.

“A slice through the mounds, like a slice through time, exposes these shell specimens embedded in concrete. People can also walk to the tops of the mounds for great views of the cultural buildings with the Eco-Forum and government center across the river in the distant view.”

© Steven Holl Architects

Architect: Steven Holl Architects
Location: Tianjin, China
Planning Museum: 215,280 sqft
Ecology Museum: 215,280 sqft

Design Architect: Steven Holl
Director in Charge: Roberto Bannura
Project Architects: Garrick Ambrose, Yu-Ju Lin, Michael Rusch
Project Team: Chris McVoy, Laetitia Buchter, Bell Ying Yi Cai, Xi Chen, Romeo Chang, Deng Ming Cong, Rychiee Espinosa, Nathalie Frankowski, Elise Riley, Wenying Sun, Yasmin Vobis, Manta Weihermann
Climate Engineers: Transsolar
Structural Engineer: CABR
Lighting Consultant: L’Observatoire International

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Tianjin Ecocity Ecology and Planning Museums / Steven Holl Architects" 14 Jan 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=318246>
  • Jonas

    The shapes remind me of playing with a foam cutter

  • weishui121

    the surface and form very cool

  • eiffier


  • johnny

    Earth to Earth, Earth to Man and Earth to Cosmos, you have got to be joking!

  • 1


  • Ralph Kent

    Stephen Holl’s sketches always evoke memories of my time as a Part 1 architecture student – both in terms of their quality, and the quality of the idea they are representing….

  • Marcelo Gardinetti

    With this work, Holl starts tread a path close to the fireworks of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, an empty formalism, irrelevant and unnecessary