A celestial design

Kerry Boettcher
Tuesday 17 Mar 2015

Thomas Wong/Ennead Architects to design Shanghai Planetarium

Ennead Architects have won the international competition to design Shanghai’s new planetarium for the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum. 

The architects looked to the heavens for inspiration and created a design which reflects the continuum of time and space, and which mirrors China’s rich history of astronomy and the country’s future space exploration ambitions.

The design strategy borrows from the physics of orbital motion. The building is made up of three ‘celestial bodies’: the Oculus, the Inverted Dome and the Sphere. Each major element acts as an astronomical instrument which tracks the sun, moon and stars. The building form also incorporates orbital movement, orchestrating the circulation of visitors through the galleries like planets around the sun. 

The Oculus is suspended in the entrance gallery, marking the passage of time by tracking a circle of sunlight on the ground across the entry plaza and reflecting pool. The Inverted Dome is where once having viewed the exhibits, the visitors emerge from the interior into the uninterrupted sky dome. The Sphere houses the viewing theatre and acts as a reference point to visitors.

Inside there will be permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a 21 m diameter digital sky theatre, an 18 m diameter optical planetarium, IMAX theatre, and an education and research centre. 

There will also be outdoor facilities, with a 24-meter high solar telescope and an expansive green zone for evening activities at a Youth Observation Camp and Observatory.

Kerry Boettcher

News Editor

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