China’s newest museum is straight out of science fiction

China’s newest museum is straight out of science fiction


The seven-pointed metallic star floats on the glassy surface of the lake, reminiscent of a far-off future civilization, or a spaceship landing on an alien planet. It looks like something straight out of science fiction. And it is, in a way: it’s Chengdu’s new science fiction museum in the capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China.

On the one hand, the dynamic roof mimics sloping mountains in the distance; On the other hand, the canopy takes the shape of a cloud, its cantilevered arches hanging above seamless glass panels.

“From every angle, it will always look different; “It will always seem unusual or unexpected,” said Paulo Flores, one of the project directors at Zaha Hadid Architects, which designed the museum.

Perhaps more unexpected than the design itself is the time it took to build.

The museum was commissioned in 2022 to host this year’s 81st editionstreet The annual World Science Fiction Convention, nicknamed Worldcon. A building of this size and complexity usually takes four to five years to build, Flores says. But the 59,000 square meter building – three times the size of the Sydney Opera House – went from concept to completion in just 12 months.

The bow is there

The “Time Tunnel” is a multimedia corridor connecting different areas of the museum.

But despite the difficult transition Flores and his team faced, it was a dream mission. “Science fiction has always been a very important source of inspiration for our designs,” Flores said. Science fiction has always taken this leap forward, looking at what technology currently is and what technology could evolve into.

“We want to be part of that movement to create what the future looks like — not just visually, but also technologically.”

The London-based architecture firm is no stranger to technology. Zaha Hadid, the company’s namesake, was a pioneer in digital design, and the tools she used enabled her to create dynamic, futuristic buildings.

“We can only create these types of geometries using polygonal modeling software,” explained Flores, which creates a “3D simulation of the building.”

In this project, technology was not only key to creating an ambitious design, but also key to implementing it quickly. Just two weeks after the company won the competition, construction work on the project began.

Using a variety of design software, including digital modeling analysis, the team was able to speed up the timeline and ensure that everyone, from architects to material manufacturers to construction workers, was on the same page.

The bow is there

A huge skylight in the central atrium reduces the need for artificial light during the day.

Satoshi Ohashi, one of the project managers, said: The construction and design process occurring in parallel “could not have been done without these new tools.”

Ohashi added that digital modeling analysis allowed the team to optimize the building’s structure to suit Chengdu’s climate. By analyzing weather and environmental factors, the program made decisions on the size and angle of the roof overhang to protect the interior from direct sunlight.

Green technology has been incorporated to reduce the building’s operational impact as well, with solar panels integrated into the expansive roof to help power the building, and skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows to reduce the need for artificial light during the day.

The team also had to source materials locally to save time and come up with simple ways to turn their concept into reality. For example, they created a modular aluminum panel system that sits “under the skin” of the roof canopy, creating “smooth and seamless” curves while making it quick to produce in the factory, Ohashi said.

Home to more than 20 million residents, Chengdu has expanded rapidly – and is growing – rapidly in the past few decades.

Earlier this year, the city topped the list of China’s first-tier new cities, which ranks major cities based on factors such as residents’ lifestyle, business opportunities, and transportation.

The Science Fiction Museum is part of a larger Future City development in the Beidou district, outside the city. Known as the Chengdu Future Science and Technology City, the 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 square miles) site will include several new universities, laboratories and offices.

The bow is there

The artificial lake surrounding the museum can help mitigate flooding and irrigate the local landscape.

“Part of this growth is also interest in the future, science and technology and incorporating that into the city and growing that economy,” Ohashi explained.

The multi-billion-dollar “science fiction industry” includes publishing and film release, with Chengdu at its centre. Chengdu too Birthplace of Science Fiction World, one of the world’s most widely read science fiction magazines, which was founded in the city in 1979.

The museum opened on schedule to host the inaugural event – ​​the first time Worldcon has been hosted in China, and only the second time in Asia. Dave McCarty, vice president of Chengdu Worldcon and an organizer of the event for two decades, called the museum “the absolute best facility a Worldcon has ever been hosted in,” and said it was having a dedicated location that made the event feel more special than being hosted in convention centers. “Acronym”.

“Having this dedicated space is a great home for science fiction,” McCarty added.

With its successful hosting of the 81st WorldCon, Ohashi hopes the new museum and event space will become a “landmark representing the sci-fi industry” and will fuel the ambitions of a thriving “city of the future.”

“They can now say they are the science fiction capital of China,” he said.

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