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Complex structure: Long Museum in Shanghai

With the West Bund Cultural Corridor, Shanghai’s municipal government has given life to a revitalization project for former harbour and industrial areas, focusing on culture as a main attraction. Over an area measuring seven square kilometres, prestigious museum projects will stand alongside gigantic entertainment complexes devoted to the next big thing. So far, this is nothing new. Among the many buildings screaming for our attention, the Long Museum represents a pleasant surprise. The restraint shown by tycoon and collector couple Liu Yiqian and Wang in this exhibition space creates a positive impression of existing beyond time. Built on the grounds of an old coal harbour, the museum has a reserved, almost cool look, an “anti-Zeitgeist” aspect that will prove impervious to the passing years. The purist, spatially sophisticated atmosphere creates a restrained bridge between architecture and art.

The orthogonally arranged museum building comprises two above-ground and two subterranean levels. The lowest storey is home to the parkade; the floor above it is devoted to artificially lit halls used primarily to display historical collections. The above-ground structure is based on the structural logic of the parkade. The T-shaped exposed concrete structure consists of conductive, hollow walls which curve up into the ceiling.

Where two elements come together, a vaulted space is created with a thin aperture of light in between. The architects have made the most of this motif in that they have not only turned individual units 90 degrees, but also arranged them alternately as one or two-storey features.

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