The Shanghai Submarine Museum will occupy a prominent position on the Huangpu riverfront in central Shanghai on the former site of the Jiangnan Shipyard, more recently part of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo site. The Huangpu River’s west bank is currently undergoing a major urban transformation, with old industrial docks and sites being converted into cultural facilities, public parks and recreational sites linked by a green pedestrian passage.
The new museum, a branch of the China Maritime Museum, will form an integral part of this chain of cultural venues.
PES-Architects’ winning design in a competition arranged by the Shanghai Bund Investment Group seeks to preserve the historic dry dock and showcase the museum submarine with a subtle yet distinctive landmark building that honours the industrial heritage and atmosphere of the site.
The museum is placed as a bridge on top of the submarine and across the dock pool, allowing for continuous flow across the site while leaving most of the dock intact.
Initially a low, simple 500 m2 structure that provides access to the submarine, the building will grow upwards by 3,000 m2 in the second phase as the museum programmes expand. The building has a modular structure based on largely prefabricated elements for fast construction, which also allows it to be disassembled and reassembled elsewhere at the end of its lifespan.
The building forms a symbiosis with the submarine and hovers over the maritime dock as a mysterious, intriguing object offering fantastic views in all directions.
The design focus is equally on all three key elements of the site: the dock itself, as a memory of the industrial nature of the site; the museum submarine; and the majestic Huangpu River.
A rooftop viewing deck finalises the sculptural yet highly functional museum design. Beneath this, the restaurant occupies prime position with direct access from the park and pedestrian passages and a panoramic view towards the Huangpu River.
The concealing envelope of the building’s reflective mirror facade simultaneously amplifies its context and disappears, attracting attention while respecting its environment.
Glass, steel and wood form an elegant contrast to the rough textures of the museum dock.
The same materials and feel continue into the interior, where the layout is designed for highly flexible and adaptive use of spaces individually or in combination. The multifunctional space beneath the museum can extend into the dock area, which can be sectioned off for various exhibitions or events as needed.The dock pool is conceived as a landscape artwork symbolising the progression from ocean to land.
The floor has an undulating topography and can be partially filled with water, changing the nature and function of the space. As the water level rises, shallow pools emerge for children to play in, and a narrow path is created towards the museum. At its highest level, the water separates the exhibition areas below the museum from the public park.
A monumental staircase links the dock floor to the riverfront green zone. .