Nearly 10 years after the Austrian firm won the project, Coop Himmelb(l)au‘s Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition in Shenzhen, China gets ready to open.
From the street, the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) by Coop Himmelb(l)au appears as two distinct volumes; one, a swooping, curved form dressed in glass, and the other, a sharply faceted mass, clad in pale stone. A stage-like platform, raised 10 metres above the ground, and a grand entrance connects the two structures.
The move conveys the unification happening inside. Part of Shenzhen’s master plan for Futian Cultural District, a new urban centre, MOCAPE connects two institutions – the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Planning Exhibition. Each has its own wing, while the lobby, some exhibition halls, conference rooms, an auditorium and other service areas will be shared.
Visitors to MOCAPE enter by ascending a grand staircase, sheltered by an arched portico, and into an expansive atrium. From there, escalators and ramps take them up and into the “Plaza,” a shared space that serves as the departure point for tours of each museum and a point of access to the aforementioned common areas.
Stone louvers and reflective glass envelop the lobby, plaza and institutions, drawing in natural light and allowing for views of the surrounding cityscape. “From the inside, visitors are granted an unhindered view onto the city suggesting they are somewhere in a gently shaded outdoor area,” the firm explains.
Demanding the most attention is the “Cloud,” a “softly deformed” semi-enclosed mass of polished chrome that seems to hover over the plaza. Within its multiple storeys, the Cloud hosts a café, a book store and gift shop, and joins the two museums with a series of bridges and ramps.