The generative concept of the museum is derived from the potent imagery of Yunnan’s famed local "stone forests", the dramatic geography of raw, powerful beauty of the geological landscapes sculpted by nature over millennia, and the idea of stacked boxes holding fragile treasures, giving the architecture its defining metaphor as an assembled container of artifacts - a group of spatial volumes that congregates to form a larger mass, where individual pieces are still evident. The entrance experience to the museum is to be through a narrow passage, designed to induce the sensation of meandering through the stone forest, before one is suddenly confronted with the vastness of the central atrium space. The exterior volume is marked vertically with a datum line that implies a distinction between exhibition and administration office spaces, which also recalls similar horizontal strata found in the natural Yunnan rock formations. Horizontally, the façades are created with a series of negative "cuts" and positive "fins", linking the city to the interior atrium. Natural light filters through the external double-façade rendering the internal spaces with an ambience as well as a sense of orientation.
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