Ennead has been announced as the winner of an international competition for a new art museum in the historic port city of Wuxi in eastern China.
Drawing on the central metaphor of a Taihu Scholar Stone, the museum’s site and massing evoke a “contemplative and intricate spatial structure that invites one’s spirit in” through a layered system of curated gardens provided by West 8 and set within the city’s Shangxianhe Wetland Park.
“Our vision for the Wuxi Art Museum is to set it in a larger overall composition, highlighting views in and out of the museum through subtractive carves and recesses while emulating the natural erosion of spirit stones,” Thomas J. Wong, a Partner at Ennead, said in a press announcement. “The garden metaphor inspires not only a formal proposition but an experiential one, providing an evolving journey of art and nature through a carefully composed choreography that reveals something new with each step.”
West 8 Creative Director Daniel Vasiini shared: “The architecture and the landscape share a language that extends the experience of the museum from the inside-out.” A series of carved voids and solids serves to populate the program’s linear arrangement with outdoor terraces, a central courtyard, an amphitheater, a water feature, and other flexible spaces useful for art installations, film screenings, and public performances spatially inspired by the regional tradition of water management and canals.
The interior is described vaguely as a “varied sequence of infinite possibilities” and is enhanced by a perforated limestone facade and glass curtain wall meant to flood the gallery spaces with natural light while simultaneously providing views of the landscape and exterior art park.
“The new art museum will serve as a symbol of Wuxi's past, present and future, so it was important to us that its design emerge from the cultural history of the garden city and artfully synthesize art, landscape, and the museum experience into an inextricable whole,” Ennead Associate Principal Brian H. Masuda said finally. “The eroded massing and open ground plane allow the outdoor exhibition gardens and plazas to flow through and around the building, clearly communicating the museum’s aspiration to be a welcoming and accessible civic space in Wuxi that strengthens community through the appreciation of artistic creation.”
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