New planetarium for Shanghai Science Museum

New planetarium for Shanghai Science Museum

New-York-based Ennead Architects have won an international competition to design a new planetarium for the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in China. The $95 million project is expected to be unveiled in 2018.

The architects looked to the heavens for inspiration and created a design which reflects the continuum of time and space, and which mirrors China’s rich history of astronomy and the country’s future space exploration ambitions.

Drawing inspiration from astronomical principles, the design strategy provides a platform for the experience of orbital motion and utilises that as a metaphorical reference and generator of form. Three ‘celestial bodies’ comprise the architecture: the Oculus, the Inverted Dome and the Sphere.

Suspended above the main entrance to the Museum, the Oculus demonstrates the passage of time by tracking a circle of sunlight on the ground across the entry plaza and reflecting pool. The Inverted Dome, which facilitates an authentic experience of both day and night sky, sits atop the central atrium around which all galleries are organised and through which all visitors pass.

Finally, the Sphere contains the domed screen of the planetarium. A continuous skylight around the Sphere allows direct sunlight to enter and marks the passage of time in the Museum below, with a full circular ring of light realised at the noon hour of the summer solstice.

Inside, there will be permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a 21-metre-diameter digital sky theatre, an 18-metre-diameter optical planetarium, IMAX theatre and an education and research centre. There will also be outdoor facilities, with a 24-metre-high solar telescope and an expansive green zone for evening activities.

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