Archdaily_ Located in Kunming, the city of “Three Mountains, One Lake”, the National Botanical Museum designed by THAD and Sutherland Hussey Harris, embodies the fusion and integration with nature on many different levels.
Taking on 28.55 hectares of land, the National Botanical Museum is situated in close proximity to Kunming Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tree Garden of the Yunnan Academy of Forest and Grassland, and the Heilongtan Park. Once completed, the brand new National Botanical Museum will become “a mine of information and color up the urban life”.
Positioned strategically at the convergence of multiple valleys, the design concept of the museum is directly inspired by water. Founding their approach on the fact that “Water benefits all things and does not compete with them”, THAD and Sutherland Hussey Harris have imagined a structure that “lands on the site like a drop of water, rippling, flowing, spreading, and brimming with the music of the plants and rhythm of life”. Mimicking the topographic contours of the land, the architecture reunites indoor and outdoor space to achieve a state of universal harmony.
Reinterpreting the veins of extending leaves or petals, the wooden structure of the roof takes on a natural pattern. Moreover, “the gradation from opaqueness to transparency in the roofing not only meets the requirements of internal functions but also gives the building the likeness of a dynamic living body”. The fifth elevation is characterized by a mesh cover with crystal-clear texture, resembling blooming water petals in the natural landscape.
Unified in a consistent image, the different functions of the museum such as exhibitions and greenhouses have the same architectural expression. Other supporting functions such as administrative offices, business operations, and research are set in the terrain along on the hillside, topped by a continuous platform that connects public spaces, exhibitions, lecture halls, popular science sections, and greenhouses. The public outdoor space is accessible for everyone and can be used for activities like walking, jogging, sporting, camping, tea-drinking, etc.