world’s largest astronomy museum, designed by ennead architects, opens in shanghai

Jul 08, 2021

at 420,000 square feet (39,000 sqm), the new astronomical branch of the shanghai science and technology museum is the largest museum worldwide solely dedicated to the study of astronomy. through scale, form, and the manipulation of light, the building heightens awareness of our fundamental relationship to the sun and the earth’s orbital motion. for its design, ennead drew from the classic ‘three-body problem’ in physics, looking to the intricate choreographies created by gravitational attraction of multiple bodies within solar systems.

another spatial feature of the astronomy museum by ennead architects is the inverted dome, a large inverted glass tension structure that sits on top of the central atrium of the building. set at the roof line, it allows visitors to occupy the center of the glass dish with an unimpeded view of the sky. the culmination of the exhibit journey, this space cuts the view of the horizon and adjacent urban context and focuses the visitor on the all-encompassing sky – a real encounter with the universe to conclude the simulated experience within. the 720-degree spiraling ramp inside the museum and underneath the inverted dome traces the orbital flow of the visitor sequence throughout the museum exhibits and launches the eye upward to its apex.

project info:

name: shanghai astronomy museum

architect: ennead architects

lead architect: thomas j. wong (ennead design partner) and v. guy maxwell (ennead management partner)

management principal: grace chen

LDI: shanghai institute of architectural design and research

location: shanghai, china

photography: arch-exist