Ennead has completed a new monumental construction that creates an immersive experience for visitors. The reason, this building raises awareness of the fundamental relationship between humans and the sun and the movement of the earth's orbit. At 42,000 square feet, the new astronomical branch of the Shanghai Museum of Science and Technology will be the largest museum in the world dedicated exclusively to the study of astronomy.
“The main idea of the Shanghai Astronomy Museum is to incorporate the immersive experience of the subject matter into the design and deliver it before you even enter the building. At the end of your visit, there is a direct culminating moment with the sky, framed and supported by the architecture,” said Thomas J. Wong, Design Partner at Ennead Architects.
The basic concept of this museum reflects the relationship between objects in the solar system and their physical elements such as gravity. This is reflected in a series of curved paths that appear to be affected by the pull of gravity: the heart of the central atrium, the forward momentum at the entrance, and the planet-like sphere enveloping the planetarium theatre.
While in the museum, three main architectural components determine the design: Oculus, Inverted Dome, and Sphere. All three act as astronomical instruments that function to track the sun, moon, and stars.
The Oculus is located above the main entrance. It shows the passage of time by tracing the circle of sunlight on the ground. Oculus creates a real watch on a civic square.
The Sphere houses a planetarium theater which is half submerged within the building. Pure spherical form refers to the primordial form in the universe. As one circled the building, the orb gradually came into view.
The Inverted Dome is a large inverted glass tension structure located above the building's central atrium. This section focuses the visitor on the all-encompassing sky—a real encounter with the universe to conclude the simulation within.
The Museum grounds are located in a sprawling green zone and include some buildings, including temporary and permanent exhibits, a 78-foot solar telescope, observatory, optical planetarium, education and research center, and a digital theatre.