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First images released of David Chipperfield’s West Bund Museum in Shanghai

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Right on the northern bank of the Huangpu River, the recycled glass-clad museum is a partnership with Paris’s Pompidou Centre 

The West Bund Museum occupies a triangular plot at the northern tip of a new public park, surrounded by a raised public esplanade above the flood plain. It forms part of a new cultural district on 9km² of ex-industrial land. 

With entrances from both the riverside to the east and Longteng Avenue to the west, a central double-height entrance atrium and lobby is surrounded by three 17m-high ’volumes’, clad in recycled glass, each with a top-lit gallery at upper and lower levels. Between them is a multipurpose hall, art studio and education spaces.

These are partially sunken, and lit by clerestory windows, while a low elongated café pavilion sits along the river’s edge, with its roof forming a terrace above. 

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The cultural partnership between the Pompidou Centre and the publicly owned West Bund Group will see the Pompidou showing a number of exhibitions in the West Bund Museum over the first five years following its opening. 

The building sits on what’s known as the Shanghai Corniche, an 8.5km frontage of the Huangpu River’s north bank. The new museum is part of a wider project along 11.4km of Xuhui waterfront, launched by the Xuhui district authority after a 2010 Expo. It forms the heart of a cultural development area mapped out in the city’s 2017-2035 masterplan. 

Architect’s view

The design of the West Bund Museum responds to the openness of the site as well as the surrounding development of a new cultural corridor along West Bund. The wilful act of twisting the three main exhibition halls breaks the conventional geometry and creates powerful interstitial public spaces. A wide esplanade opens onto the waterside promenade, offering outdoor space for use by everyone.

David Chipperfield, director, David Chipperfield Architects

Together with West Bund Group and the Pompidou Centre we have allocated various public facilities throughout the building. The ground floor is designed as a public thoroughfare – with a riverside café and bookstore – allowing visitors to connect between the urban life of the street and views of the Huangpu River. The public facilities all contribute to the idea that modern museums are more than just a destination for viewing art.

Libin Chen, partner, David Chipperfield Architects Shanghai

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Ground floor plan with landscape

Project data

Start on site 2013
Completion 2019
Gross floor area 22,000m²
Site area 17,700m²
Architect David Chipperfield Architects (Berlin and Shanghai offices)
Local design institute Shanghai Urban Architectural Design
Client Shanghai West Bund Development Group Company
Structural engineer Arup (concept design); Shanghai Urban Architectural Design (developed design)
M&E consultant WSP (concept design); Shanghai Urban Architectural Design (developed design)
Landscape consultant Levin Monsigny Landschaftsarchitekten (concept design); Beijing Orient Landscape Company (technical design to construction)
Façade consultant Drees & Sommer Engineering Consulting
Lighting consultant Rdesign International Lighting
Annual mains water consumption 16,125 m3/a (estimate)
Airtightness at 10Pa (as calculated in China) ≤1.50m3/m.h 
Heating and hot water load 240kwh/m2/yr
Overall area-weighted u-value Glass and recycled glass: U=1.985W/ m2 K; opaque area: U=0.345 W/ m2 K 

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Facade detail

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Readers' comments (1)

  • However good the architecture, it's surely worth remembering that what it hosts will be influenced by the repressive nature of the country's regime.

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