The West Bund Museum is a new art gallery designed by David Chipperfield Architects Berlin & Shanghai on the Shanghai Corniche, an 8.5-kilometer frontage on the northern bank of the Huangpu River. The promenade connects the Xuhui district to the historic Bund and forms a key part of the West Bund Masterplan, which envisages a new cultural district over nine square kilometers of former industrial land. It is one of the main buildings of this cultural hub.
© Simon Menges
The museum occupies a triangular plot at the northernmost tip of a new public park, at the point where Longteng Avenue and the river converge. A raised public esplanade above the flood plain surrounds the building, offering views to the river. The edge of the esplanade on the east side is delineated by a continuous series of steps with landing stages leading to the riverbank. The site offered the opportunity to create a completely freestanding structure and its location allowed for improved access to both the river and the park.
The building consists of three main gallery volumes placed in a pinwheel formation around a central lobby with a double-height atrium. This configuration allows for different components of the museum to operate independently. The lobby itself is accessed from Longteng Avenue to the west and from the riverside to the east.
The latter offers two entrance options: the visitor can either descend into a sunken courtyard at a lower level or climb a set of stairs from the esplanade to arrive in the central lobby at a higher level. Both of these levels give access to the main gallery spaces. The book shop and café can be found at an intermediate level directly connected to Longteng Avenue. Each of the three main volumes is 17 meters high, with an upper and lower level.
The upper level of each volume contains a top-lit gallery space. The spaces on the lower level vary in function, housing a multipurpose hall, an art studio, and education spaces. These are partially sunken and lit by clerestory windows. A low pavilion housing the café sits at the river’s edge at the level of the esplanade. Its elongated form is intended to maximize river views while its roof serves as a generous terrace fronting the upper entrance.
The roof of the atrium remains below the roofline of the major volumes and cantilevers far out beyond the building towards the river and the road. At either end, the roof is supported by a colossal tapering column that draws attention to the entrances. The three dominant volumes are clad with translucent recycled glass, lending the complex an opaline quality. These façades, appearing iridescent during the day and prismatic at night, stand in contrast with the smooth brightness of the plaster clad hovering roof canopies. The pin-wheel configuration of the galleries is reinforced with large windows at their outer ends offering panoramic views over the park, the river, and the city.
© Simon Menges
The Centre Pompidou Paris and the publicly-owned West Bund Group have agreed on a contract establishing a cultural partnership. In the five years following the opening, the Centre Pompidou is showing a number of exhibitions in the new museum as part of a cultural collaboration between France and China.
DATE: 2013-2019 / LOCATION: Shanghai, China / AREA: 22,000 m2 (built) / PROGRAM: museum / STATUS: built / DESIGN: David Chipperfield Architects Berlin & Shanghai / PARTNERS: David Chipperfield, Libin Chen, Mark Randel, Martin Reichert, Alexander Schwarz (Design lead) / PROJECT ARCHITECTS: Diana Schaffrannek (Concept design), Chuxiao Li (Developed design), Qianqian Zhang (Site design supervision) / TEAM: Thomas Benk, Tuo Chen, Tianyuan Fan, Dirk Gschwind, Weili Huang, Ruben Kiewiet, Sihan Lai, Manus Leung, Haishan Li, Han Li, Yuchen Li, Huiqun Liu, Andras Mate, Stuart Rennie, Lijun Shen, Peggy Wong, Antonia Schlegel / LOCAL DESIGN INSTITUTE: Shanghai Urban Architectural Design Co. Ltd. (Technical design to Construction supervision) / CONSULTANTS: Arup Deutschland GmbH, Berlin & Arup International Consultants, Shanghai Co. Ltd. (Concept design), Shanghai Urban Architectural Design Co. Ltd. (Developed design) (structure); WSP (Concept design), Shanghai Urban Architectural Design Co. Ltd. (Developed design) (Services Engineer); Drees & Sommer Engineering Consulting Co. Ltd. (Façade); Rdesign International Lighting (Lighting); Levin Monsigny Landschaftsarchitekten (Concept design), Beijing Orient Landscape Co. Ltd. (Technical design to Construction supervision) (landscape) / CLIENT: Shanghai West Bund Development Group Co., Ltd. / PHOTOS: © Simon Menges