Ennead Architects has won a major design competition to create the Shanghai Yangtze River Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Nature Preserve.
The proposed design features dramatic forms that rise in undulating, fluid gestures taking cues from the rippling surface of the river and the iconic landscape of the upper Yangtze.
Built forms evoke biomorphic anatomy and a vessel-like ark, with gently curving wooden structural ribs radiating around a central spine that joins three building wings into a unified expression.
Clad in translucent PTFE, the lightweight enclosure system envelops the interior pools to create a luminous, daylight-maximizing interior.
Led by design partner Thomas Wong, in partnership with landscape designer Andropogon, the project tries to rescue endangered species and restore biodiversity to a habitat beset by pollution.
Located on an island at the mouth of the Yangtze River and set within a 17-hectare landscape, the 427,000 square foot building comprises a dual-function aquarium and research facility.
Experts inside will try to repopulate the dwindling numbers of Chinese sturgeon and finless porpoise through ecological conservation.
A series of interior and exterior pools for breeding and raising both species will mimic their natural migration into waters of varying size and salinity.
The design seamlessly integrates highly sustainable strategies, combining a cross-laminated timber structural system, geothermal heating and cooling loops.
Man-made wetlands of local flora and waterborne plants will aid rapid carbon sequestration while biofiltration for aquarium water will create environmental equilibrium.
Suspended walkways and viewing areas circumnavigate the campus and allow visitors to immerse in a completely natural setting away from the dense urban core of Shanghai.
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To see the full list of winners of the WAN Awards 2018, click here