Shenzhen’s New Natural History Museum Mimics the Flow of the Nearby River

The Shenzhen Natural History Museum Is Designed To "Emerge" From the River

Shenzhen is quickly transforming into the “Silicon Valley” of southeastern China. With the emergence of hardware innovation and imitation tech production (called Shanzhai), it suggests a shifting identity for the city. As a result, cultural centers are popping up across the region to meet a new age of cultural and civic pride. The latest addition to the city’s collection is Delta: the soon to be built Shenzhen Natural History Museum. B+H Architects, 3XN, and Zhubo Design submitted the winning proposal as a seamless addition to the landscape by gently sloping the building from the adjacent body of water.

The project site sits in the Shenzhen Pingshan District near Yanzi Lake. The undulating form is inspired by the gentle flow of the surrounding water and mimics this in order to blend into the environment. It is also meant to “blend” the needs of users; the porous site design and easily accessible green areas mean that locals can benefit from the Natural History Museum just as much as tourists.

The Shenzhen Natural History Museum Is Designed To "Emerge" From the River

The museum’s main programming will be exhibits on local ecology, natural history, and scientific research. As visitors travel linearly through these galleries, they are led to a central volume of vertical circulation. The designers describe that this procession acts as “water streaming down a river” until the guests reach the volume that they refer to as a cave. Surrounded by critical public programming such as the lobby and café, this space acts as the “pulsating heart of the building.”

A similar procession occurs on the exterior through the carefully composed green roof of the building. “A public park extends throughout the roof and highlights the Natural History Museum’s organic geometries,” the architects explain. “Like a river stream findings its shape in balance with the earth, every turn frames a new spectacular view over the surrounding park, hills, and lake from dedicated viewing terraces along the roof park.”

In this way, guests can learn about local ecology throughout the Shenzhen Natural History Museum and actually begin to experience it as well. Exterior renderings demonstrate the success of this approach as multiple vistas provide alternate views of the incredible landscape, from the dense city to the serene lake views.

Delta is the new Shenzhen Natural History Museum—one of ten cultural centers planned for the new “Silicon Valley” of southeastern China.

The Shenzhen Natural History Museum Is Designed To "Emerge" From the River

The Shenzhen Natural History Museum is designed as an undulating wave that gradually lifts from the surrounding water.

The Shenzhen Natural History Museum Is Designed To "Emerge" From the River

The Shenzhen Natural History Museum Is Designed To "Emerge" From the River

B+H Architects: Website | Facebook | Instagram
3XN: 3XN | Facebook | Instagram
Zhubo Design: Zhubo Design 
h/t: [dezeen, designboom]

All images via B+H Architects, 3XN, and Zhubo Design.

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Samantha Pires

Sam Pires is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She is also a freelance architectural designer. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from NJIT and is currently earning a Master in Architecture II from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sam has design experience at multiple renowned architecture firms such as Gensler and Bjarke Ingels Group. She believes architecture should be more accessible to everyone and uses writing to tell unexpected stories about the built environment. You can connect with her online at
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