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15 Jan 2018

Perkins+Will create science hub to anchor Suzhou culture district
BY Tom Anstey

The museum will become the centrepiece of a new cultural district in Shishan Park

The museum will become the centrepiece of a new cultural district in Shishan Park

A science museum in Suzhou, China, is to act as the centrepiece of a new cultural district in the city, with the design celebrating nature while highlighting the role of industrial development.

Taking inspiration from its surroundings, the 600,000sq ft (56,000sq m) Suzhou Science & Technology Museum is inspired by the Chinese expression of "shan sui", which means “union of mountain and lake”.

Forming an infinity loop, the Perkins+Will-designed building emerges from the nearby ‘Lion Mountain’, twisting back on itself at its apex to extend over Shishan Lake. Within the lake will be several man-made teardrop-shaped, islands.

The islands will be connected by walkway to the museum, serving as both a filtration system for the lake and as a living exhibition for the museum.

The museum will feature a 66,700sq ft (6,200sq m) industrial exhibition hall, with exhibits highlighting the role of industrial development in enriching people’s lives.

“Our design recognises the importance of Suzhou in China’s commercial history and underscores its role at the forefront of China’s emergence as a technology leader and innovator,” said Ralph Johnson, global design director of Perkins+Will.

“The museum also draws inspiration from the natural environment surrounding it.”

The wider Suzhou Shishan Cultural District has been developed by urban designers and masterplanners Sasaki Associates.

At the heart of the historic city, which welcomes around 38 million domestic Chinese tourists each year, the Shishan master plan establishes a new cultural district that blends the Suzhou's garden city history with contemporary cultural facilities that highlight its future.

In addition to the planned science centre, the Cultural District will also feature a performance centre, sculpture garden, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of New Media and Technology, and the Mediatheque culture hub.

To encourage multi-day visits, a hotel overlooking a water garden is also in the works, while retail developments will create an urban lakefront on the "city side" of the mountain.

Despite multiple developments in the park area, open space will be increased by 15 per cent, with a restored forest ecosystem provides vital habitat for woodland species and works with the larger landscape framework to support multiple habitats within the hills, lake, and wetlands of the site.



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