MAD Architects’ project in China’s Silicon Valley is a spectacular space dedicated to culture on a human scale
The Shenzhen Bay Culture Park complex, designed by MAD Architects, opens to the public in 2023. It is located in the Houhai area of the Nanshan district, which has become the financial and innovation heart of the city over the last decade. It’s also home to the headquarters of economic and technological giants Alibaba, Huawei and Tencent which makes it the most tech-centred city in China and contributes to its nickname of China’s Silicon Valley.
The park encompasses a total built area of 182,000 square metres with 51,000 m2 dedicated to its cultural complex comprised of two museum spaces: the Creative Design Hall and the Shenzhen Science and Technology Museum. Other facilities in the park include a vast green public space and pond and an amphitheatre auditorium large enough to hold up to 10,000 people. In the south pavilion, an observation deck overlooks the Shenzhen Bay waterfront and the city’s skyline. A series of pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths provide easy links between the cultural park and the city.
The museums each boast large exhibition halls housed in what, from the outside, look like large, smooth stones clustered together. The director of MAD Architects, Ma Yansong, explains, ‘I want to create a surreal atmosphere so that the people who visit, relax or exercise here have the possibility of engaging in a dialogue with the past and the future. Time and space dissolve and are placed against each other, manifesting a sense of weightlessness and unbridled imagination.’
The complex has a reception area, exhibition halls, a public education space, a library, an auditorium, a theatre as well as cafés and shops, which are all distributed on the ground floor of the buildings. These are located below ground level, leaving the activities that take place there hidden from view. However, they will have plenty of natural light thanks to the large openings and skylights. Equally, the sloping roofs that slide gently to the ground create shaded courtyards throughout the park.
The gallery for special exhibitions soars 30 metres high, easily accommodating large-scale installations and delivering stunning architectural spatial effects.