The SourceCivil Engineering MagazineSlideshow: Zaha Hadid Architects-designed art center in China underway

Slideshow: Zaha Hadid Architects-designed art center in China underway

By Catherine A. Cardno, Ph.D.

  • aerial shot of a star-shaped building located in a lake with a four-lane road that extends underneath the building and lake
  • looking down at the pedestrian bridges that lead to a star-shaped building located in a lake
  • standing underneath a large steel and glass canopy in a large plaza area
  • standing inside and looking at  various curved walls and balconies
  • an acrobatic performance on stage, with the audience seating rising behind the performers
  • aerial shot of an under-construction building in a dry site without water in the lake
  • aerial shot of an under-construction site with four buildings and two steel canopy arms visible

Work is underway on the Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Center in Zhuhai, China. Designed by London- and Beijing-based architecture studio Zaha Hadid Architects, the layered, star-shaped center will be located in the city’s Western Ecological New Town and boast the studio’s well-known white, glass, and steel aesthetics. The center will be located within a human-made lake, and a four-lane road with two lanes in either direction will pass directly underneath it.

The center will contain four large, distinct cultural institutions joined together via a central plaza that will act as an external foyer for each. Each venue — a 1,200 seat grand theater, a 500-seat multifunctional hall, a science center, and an art museum — will occupy one of the campus’s four arms. An external amphitheater will host outdoor performances and activities on the western side of the center.

A 170 m by 270 m reticulated shell lattice steel canopy will cover the four venues as a unifying roof structure that will give the center its layered star-shaped appearance. Modular design and construction have made it possible to prefabricate and preassemble much of the steel lattice roof, which is self-supporting and self-stabilizing.

The steel structure for two of the four leaves of the roof canopy has now been installed.

While the buildings underneath the roof canopy will be double insulated to protect their interiors from solar gain, the roof canopy will also provide external shading for these buildings. Strategically placed perforations in the panels have been sited to allow differing degrees of sunlight into the spaces, depending on the venue’s programming requirements and building orientation.

The architectural team has incorporated a series of interconnected bridges, ramps, and voids to offer visitors opportunities to cross the lake, climb to a rooftop piazza, and enjoy views of the center’s central plaza as well as its various promenades, cafes, restaurants, and educational facilities.

The building has been designed to receive two stars within China’s three-star Green Building Evaluation Standard. As part of this, priority has been given to the use of recycled materials for the center’s structural components. A waste heat recovery system will also be used to meet the center’s hot water needs, and water-saving appliances will regulate the center’s water-recycling system, according to the architects. Humidity and soil-moisture sensors will also be used to monitor and control water use in the landscaping.

The lake will serve a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic one: It is an integral element in Zhuhai’s “sponge city” initiative, according to the architects. This initiative aims to store, reuse, and naturally filter with aquatic flora and fauna at least 70% of the rainwater that falls in the city.

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