- 2018 AIALA Next LA Award
Center of Science & Technology in Suzhou
- Location Shishan Park, Suzhou
- Type Public
- Area 100,000SF
- Completion 2017
Suzhou, a large Chinese metropolitan approximately 60 miles northwest of Shanghai, is well known for its flowing canals and world heritage designated classical gardens and defined by the role landscape plays in both its history and in the everyday modern life of the city.
This project—a proposed competition design concept for a Science and Technology Museum—is one of three cultural components conceived as part of the reclamation of a former amusement park. The museum, which will be situated among the famed gardens of Suzhou’s Shishan Park, would celebrate centuries of Chinese technological advancements, including its growing space program. kdA’s proposed design for the new museum reflects what the gardens in Suzhou have always been: a source of inspiration and enlightenment.
Anchoring the northern edge of Shishan Park, the Suzhou Museum of Science and Technology is bound by Jinshan Road, Lion Mountain, a newly reconstructed lake, and the transit plaza—an active landscape setting at the intersection of city and nature.
kdA’s design for the new museum utilizes integrated landscape strategies as the primary means of architectural form making: a large park surface is pressed into piers to provide structural support and zones of planting. This topographic form encourages the park to continue over the entire building surface, while also providing views of the surrounding mountain and lake. Seen from above, this dynamic surface is akin to another planet: expansive, abstract, and geometric, taking on characteristics of planetary craters.
The museum’s roof, responding to the park’s Ring Road, is landscaped to become an extension of the park, and traversed by walking paths connecting the park with the city. The bamboo gardens in the sunken courtyards connect the underground interior spaces to the surrounding park above. The larger program areas—including the Children’s Science Park, Temporary and Permanent Exhibitions, and the Industrial pavilion—are distributed across the site. The four theaters provide multimedia accessory spaces for exhibition zones and can be accessed by the public even when the museum is closed, while the activity, auxiliary, and back of house programs serve the museum’s more functional requirements.
The Permanent Exhibition zone takes cues from the Tom Leader Studio-designed Shishan Park and affords multiple paths throughout the space. The Great Hall presents an unlimited opportunity for future curators to organize the space, and the perimeter of the building provides multiple access points, allowing different museum programs to operate independently from the primary exhibition space. The Children’s Science Park will be an Exploratorium—a hands-on and dynamic activity zone where children can learn to code and program video games, experience the wonders of electricity, and even climb on the moon’s surface. The Temporary Exhibition Hall is divided into three 1000 m galleries that can be combined into one large space as needed.
Each level is climate controlled to allow for travelling exhibits from across the globe, and the constantly changing exhibitions will encourage museum visitors to come regularly. The Industrial Pavilion highlights Suzhou’s rapid industrial and technological advancements, focusing on themes of opportunity, context, innovation, and desire.
- 2018 AIALA Next LA Award