Vector Design Group has won a national competition to design the National Gravity Research Center in Huazhong University of Science & Technology, Wuhan. This reward honors Vector as the first foreign architects practising inside the campus of Huazhong, one of the top universities in China.
With wide implications for resource explorations, gravity GPS, research on the Earth and high technologies, this world-class facility for the accurate measuring of gravity is a key scientific and technological project sponsored by the National Education Department.
Being located on the main axis and at the north of the campus at the foot of Xujia hill, the main goal was to find the right balance between respecting the university's ongoing renovation master plan, answering the very specific requirements of the program and taking the natural condition of the site with its surrounding landscape into account.
Keeping in mind the dynamic equilibrium of objects in a gravitational space, we propose, in response to the required isolated foundations for the labs, individual static lab volumes anchored to the ground and dissociated from the elevated dynamic first floor circulation platform linking all functions together.
The research center's main public entrance is materialised by a large ramp connecting the central Gravity Plaza to the main lobby atrium, giving access to the different public functions rooms (exhibition hall, conference hall), to the labs and also to the different office floors above through a sculptural elevator core and stair.
Colors and materials have were chosen to create a project that is distinctive yet in harmony with the university's existing buildings and landscape, and with a design optimised to passively reduce energy consumption and sustain a comfortable working environment.