The Grand Canal Museum Complex in Hangzhou, China designed by Herzog & de Meuron reflects on the importance of this area in Chinese cultural and natural landscapes. The project illustrates the story of the Grand Canal, through a continuous dialogue between the water and the museum.
Located on the main artery connecting the Grand Canal and the Hanggang River to other large urban development areas in Hangzhou’s north, the Grand Canal Museum Complex has a strategic pivotal position. Surrounded by water on 3 sides, a bold structure with a curved façade houses the museum and faces the river, “creating a visual and material dialogue between the subject and its narrator”. The proposal introduced also a gathering place at the Grand Canal.
The museum is centered on the plot. By elevating it by 12m and minimizing the structural elements that touch the ground, the space beneath the hovering museum is freed and thus provides extra covered and shaded public space for the people of Hangzhou and its many visitors. Large public functions such as a grand ballroom and a banquet room are strategically located under the elevated museum, within a veil-like glass façade, and serve as magnets for activities as well as facilitate access for crowd-drawing events. -- Herzog & de Meuron
50 000 sqm of exhibition areas are organized on two floors. A vertical core connects the programs of the building, including a conference center on the lower floors, museum lobby in the middle and restaurants and hotel on top. With a flexible layout, the space can cater to a large variety of curatorial programs.
Anchored by “a large mountain-shaped conference center-hotel complex on the east side of the plot”, embodying a classic Chinese ideal of “water in the front, mountain in the back”, the project is directly in relation to the city and the natural environment. The façade consisting of large concave cast glass elements resembles “the sparkle of rippling water and amplifies the natural beauty of the Grand Canal”, whereas the other façade facing the “Mountain” is mineral and solid. Finally, the landscape design is conceived as a conceptual representation of the various regional floras found throughout China.
Additional landscape is provided on top of the museum roof, amplifying the greenery of the project and enhancing its sustainability by integrating the roof landscape into a storm water management system. From here, much like from a mountain plateau, views of the Grand Canal and Hangzhou’s revered natural landscape as well as its ancient and new urban developments unfold. -- Herzog & de Meuron