Taiyuan Museum / Preston Scott Cohen


We recently featured Preston Scott Cohen‘s Nanjing Performing Arts Center and, now, we share his winning competition proposal for the .   Currently under construction, the building’s strong dynamic form is a geometric spin on the agricultural landscapes native to the Shanxi Province.   The tessellated surfaces respond to contemporary technologies for controlling natural and artificial light, in addition to producing unexpected spatial conditions as the user circulates through and around the building.

© Preston Scott Cohen

More images and more about the project after the break.

Update: High res version of the drawings have been added.

© Preston Scott Cohen

“The guiding premise of the project is the need to organize the museum according to a dialectic of discontinuity and continuity. The building produces the impression of a unified sequence of spaces while at the same time giving visitors the freedom either to follow a path that is clearly defined by the architecture or to skip from one gallery to another in a non-linear fashion,” explained the architects.

© Preston Scott Cohen

The structure wraps green areas as a way to blend the exterior with the man-made.  These courtyards offer the opportunity to manage rainwater for the purpose of irrigating the surrounding landscape.    Photovoltaics will be embedded in glass, as a means to reduce energy consumption by making use of a wide range of possible glass technologies .

Currently Under Construction

Client: Taiyuan City Government
Total Area: 40,500 m2
Construction Budget: RMB 200,000,000
Winner of the international competition
Project Schedule: 2007-2010
Project Team: Preston Scott Cohen (architectural design); Amit Nemlich (planning); Collin Gardner, Hao Ruan, Joshua Dannenberg (design assistants, modeling, renderings); Yair Keshet(model)
Project Consultants: Architecture Design and Research Institute of South East University

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Taiyuan Museum / Preston Scott Cohen" 17 Feb 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=50000>
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  • leogar

    Interesting form. I could not see the relationship between the form and the landscapes of shanxi though and it that sense the form looks arbitrary. am I right or does that not really matter?

  • Michael

    Architects, the English language and Meaning clearly parted company some time ago.
    This is a Museum. You walk from room to room.
    How exactly do you ‘skip from one gallery to another in a non-linear fashion’ ?
    Did someone invent a Particle Transporter while I slept?

    This is just verbose spin to dress up the architect’s desire to build something whacky for the sake of it.

    • Will

      well, would you call how one navigates the Guggenheim as linear?

      • erik

        … as opposed to non-linear?… yes.

      • Michael

        Which Guggenheim?
        In any case, the answer is yes.

    • norm

      start reading james joyce for a while, maybe you’ll get it.
      don’t blame your own ignorance on architects. and yes,
      the experience of walking in a place like Guggenheim (NYC) is
      non-linear vs walking in Altes museum in Berlin which is linear.
      you can’t just deny 60 years of collective intelligence which gave
      us post modernism and deconstruction movement as means of
      freeing art & architecture from 60′s utopian models and hard edge
      modernism. peterson scott cohen represents the smae era, famous
      for his explorations with descriptive geometry. Whether his
      architecture is successful or not, he is coming from a well
      appreciated artistic and theoretical background.

      • i2h

        oh please, get off your high horse. throughout college and well into the professional world, architects have always just replaced common descriptions with a deliberately complex sounding strings of words. there is no ignorance on anyone’s part…just pretension on theirs.

      • Michael

        Are you seriously suggesting that the Gugg NYC is an example of non-linear circulation? Why? Because it’s a spiral?!
        And the Altes Museum is linear because it’s a series of rectilinear rooms?
        I’m afraid that it’s you that is poorly read and informed, Norm.
        And how exactly would reading Joyce improve my understanding of patent nonsense?
        Joyce makes sense. This gibberish doesn’t.

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  • Jason


    Are you implying that the progression through the Guggenheim (New York, I assume, but also every museum I can think of) is NOT linear? That’s incredible! Could you explain to me how it is not?

  • Jason

    ….and for crissakes… Could someone please tell me what the point of posting drawings, diagrams, analysis, process work, etc… if the images are too freaking small to see!? Also, who is responsible for their illegible size? ArchDaily or the Architect? I’d like to know who is responsible for not considering presentation AT ALL. Even when you click to make them larger they’re completely illegible and thus, USELESS!

    /end rant

    • http://www.archdaily.com David Basulto


      We updated the drawings with high resolution versions.

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  • sup1428

    I’m very astonished to see that the cracy constructing expends to Taiyuan–my hometown.
    Architechture is for human life, not for human form!
    This international style which have no relationship with the city having 2500 years of history can be put into any place.

    • Rembo

      blame your government dude…

  • http://twitter.com/patrickbelldes/status/9284673644 Patrick Bell

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  • bLogHouse

    The architectural ‘high’ talk often relies on terms and expressions, borrowed from well respected sciences to gain some authority and credibility. The term ‘non-linear’ comes from physics and dynamic systems theory in particular. It gained popularity during the raging times of New Age physics and Chaos Theory in the 70-ies and 80-ies. The physicists have since moved on, while architects lag as usual. In 2010 it still seems OK to attach a term like ‘non-linear’ to the explanation (and justification) of forms, completely disconnected from the surroundings and connected solely to your big Ego.

    • Michael


    • archi

      Ive just spent the last three years studying non-linear museological structure, the term is respected as refering to a circulation path or architecture which doesnt follow a straight line (eg the ecology wing at the natural history museum) but instead allows the visitor to make their own choices about which path to take (eg. The National Museum of Scotland). Within a scientific basis it often means quite the same thing, ie non regular movement such as brownian motion etc. I dont know if it was borrowed from there, but it has got a definite architectural grounding now especially within the space of the museum. Non-linear architecture allows the visitor to become more than just a viewer. It adds an interactive element to the building’s architecture and supplements new museological trends such as digital interface (which is quickly becoming the most recent addition to the non-linear museum).

      A lot of people here seemed to slate the term non-linear as pretentious or high-brow. I feel that actually this term is widely used and acknowledged in many areas of museology and design. Their syntax is very normal for this kind of description, and I agree with many of the things that they were saying.

      In reference to James Joyce, I guess he was saying that his books like Ulysses are “non-linear” in the way that they dont have a format in the traditional sense, instead borrowing from lots of different sources and stories.

      I dont want to seem too snidey or pretentious here, I just felt I could bring some honest knowledge (if theres such a thing) to a subject I have studied in detail. There was a lot of trolling earlier on, I dont understand why every forum on every page on the internet is filled with aggression. In my opinion its not a good way to discuss something.

      If anyone was interested in finding out more about non-linear museological architecture, a good introduction along with some case studies can be found in the book “Reshaping Museum Space” by Suzanne Macleod. In particular the essay entitled “The Impact Of Layout” by Sophia Psarra would be very helpful.

      • ghasedak

        hi I was interested in finding out more about non linear , archi say ” the impact of layout ” by sophia psarra is good . could you send this article to my email , ghasedak_rt@yahoo.com tanx

  • JJ

    Non-linearity was all the rage 10 years ago when I was in school… it’s about time to move on to the next arbitrary borrowed scientific buzz word.

  • Ivan

    “Non-linear”in this project means something very simple: skipping from one gallery to another via elevator or by means of the walkways that allow people to by-pass galleries, rather than to pass through them all in succession.

  • http://twitter.com/nicholaspatten/status/9330639541 Nicholas Patten

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  • Lu Yi

    The construction looks amazing. Huge cantilevers. This is a project as powerful as Zaha Hadid’s in Guangzhou. You can find some new images on http://www.pscohen.com.

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