3XN, B+H, and Zhubo Design were selected as first-place winners in an international design competition for the new Shenzhen Natural History Museum. Attracting over 70 proposals from around the world, the contest first nominated fifteen teams for the bidding stage, representing 18 countries, before choosing the best proposal.
Set to be one of Shenzhen’s "Ten Cultural Facilities of the New Era" and the first large-scale comprehensive natural museum in Southern China once completed, the new Natural History Museum is dedicated to interpreting the laws of natural evolution. Located in the Pingshan District of Shenzhen, next to the Yanzi Lake, the 42,000m2 intervention will showcase the geographies of Shenzhen and its ecology from a global perspective, actively advocating science.
The winning scheme of the natural science museum entitled Delta, “rises seamlessly from the river, inviting visitors and residents to journey along its accessible green rooftop”. A team collaboration effort comprising Danish architectural firm 3XN along with B+H, a consulting + design solutions office, and ZHUBO Design, specialized in integrated design, the proposal extends the public park onto the roof of the facility, highlighting the natural geometry of the architecture and maximizing access to the green areas. In fact, a range of activities integrated aim to keep the site open and active throughout the day.
Inspired by the context, the design follows the natural flow of existing elements. “Like a river stream finding its shape in balance with the earth, every turn frames a new spectacular view over the surrounding park, hills, and lake from dedicated viewing terraces along the roof park. […] Like water streaming down a river, the undulating form leads guests to a ’cave’ inspired passage that is connected to the museum lobby and activated by multiple cafes and public areas, serving as the pulsating heart of the building”.
Praised largely, the project was selected out of 70 proposals. The Judges focused on the harmonious integration of the design with its surrounding landscape and their commentaries highlighted the use of the existing terrain and the creation of a dynamic natural extension. Yvonne Farrell, founder of Grafton Architects and Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate stated that “this building captures the unique atmosphere of a riverfront site and finds the timeless property of water as a concept... The connection between function, site, concept, structure, material, and space is very clear.”
Moreover, other judges like Philip Cox, founder of Cox Architects underlined the creativity behind the concept specifying that “the continuously sloping exterior wall with the landscaped roof creates a continuous volume and spatial experience. The form of the cliff is very interesting, and the details are handled well. The layout of the museum and its interaction with ramps and walls create interesting spaces.”