A cultural collaboration between France and China has been cemented with the opening of the David Chipperfield Architects-designed West Bund Museum in Shanghai. A partnership involving Centre Pompidou Paris and West Bund Group, the 22,000-square-foot facility will show a number of exhibitions over the next five years, and lays the groundwork for an 8.5-kilometre masterplan that establishes a new cultural district.
The building on the north bank of the Huangpu River was inaugurated in a November 8 ceremony attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, Mayor of Xuhui district, Fang Shizhong, and President of the Centre Pompidou Serge Lasvignes.
The triangular site is located at the northernmost tip of a new public park. A public esplanade acts as the plinth for the museum, yielding elevated views of the river. The east edge of the esplanade is defined by a series of steps and landing platforms leading to the riverbank.
A central lobby hosting a double-height atrium anchors three 17-metre-high main gallery volumes situated in pinwheel formation, allowing each component to operate independently. Clad in translucent recycled glass, the three volumes are split in two, with an upper level containing a top-lit gallery space and lower levels serving multiple educational functions.
The lobby is accessible from two sides. The riverside entrance offers two points of entry, funnelling guests towards a sunken courtyard or a set of stairs. Both options provide access to the main gallery spaces. A book shop and an elongated cafe, its roof serving as a terrace space, further characterize the internal program.
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