The international competition-winning design draws inspiration from astronomical principles, invoking the experience of orbital motion. Each of the building’s three principal forms – the Oculus, the Inverted Dome and the Sphere acts as an astronomical instrument, tracking the sun, moon and stars and reminding visitors that our conception of time originates in distant astronomical objects. The building form, program and circulation support the flow of visitors through the galleries and the experience of these three central bodies.
"In linking the new Museum to both scientific purpose and to the celestial references of buildings throughout history, the exhibits and architecture will communicate more than scientific content: they will illuminate what it means to be human in a vast and largely unknown universe," states Thomas Wong, lead designer of the building and Design Partner in Ennead Architects.
Celebrating the continuum of time and space, the planetarium is modern and forward-looking while at the same time presents a link to the past, mirroring both the rich history of Chinese astronomy and the future ambitions of China’s space exploration program.
The Shanghai Planetarium is exemplary of Ennead’s current work in China, which includes the Taopu SciTech city master plan and Phase I development (also selected in an international competition), Huawei Wuhan Research and Development Campus, and Lingang Sci Tech city. These designs integrate commercial, cultural and civic uses to sponsor civic engagement in 21st-century Chinese cities.
The project, led by Mr. Wong and management partner Guy Maxwell, is to open in 2020.