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Grand Canal Museum Complex, Herzog & de Meuron

A Calligraphic Brushstroke: Grand Canal Museum Complex by Herzog & de Meuron

At the southern end of the Grand Canal, the world’s longest waterway and a masterpiece of hydraulic engineering from old China, Herzog & de Meuron are planning the Grand Canal Museum Complex for the northern starting point of the expansion of the city of Hangzhou. The design intends to convey the significance of the canal in the Chinese cultural and natural landscapes within the framework of a contemporary interpretation.

In this context, water and museum − the subject of the story and its narrator − come together in a reflection on the concave façade of cast glass. With the look of a calligraphic brushstroke the structure, which is raised 12 metres, leaves the space beneath the hovering museum open as a public meeting place. The landscape design features northern and southern Chinese tree species that concentrate into a park and follow the geographical line of the canal. 

Inside the mountain-shaped building, a vertical program links the ground-floor conference centre with the lobby in the central structure and the hotel on the upper levels. This constellation is said to embody the Chinese ideal of “water in front, mountain behind”: a model for a person in harmony with both the built and the natural environments. 

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