Located at the site of Wuhan’s old steelworks in Wuhan, the Museum of Zhang ZhiDong is dedicated to this prominent and historical local figure who helped modernize Wuhan through the Industrial Revolution. The museum is designed to recall the city’s industrial past, while looking to the future.
The gravity defying form is glad in geometric steel panels that form the facade of the sweeping ark-like structure that is hoisted above the surrounding plaza by two steel and glass structures that house the entrance lobby, main stairs, museum store and library and administration offices. Once inside, visitors climb the main staircase that connects to the exhibition spaces above. On the second floor a semi-circular auditorium features an oculus that opens to reveal a panoramic view of the old steelworks next door. A central atrium connects the three levels while ushering natural light into the galleries. On the top floor, the space is reserved for future temporary exhibitions.
The exhibition spaces are dived into four themes around the life and contribution of Zhang Zhidong, designed by exhibition designer Diameter Narrative Design. The first theme is shown at the start of the exhibition and compares contemporary and historical views of Zhang Zhidong. The remaining themes in the exhibition are: the innovative and forward thinking ideas of Zhang Zhidong; the practical implementations of these ideas; and overall world views of Zhang Zhidong’s contributions to industrialism. The exhibition includes various collaborations with local artists who explore aspects of the differing themes through installations and interactive works of art.
At the apex of the building, a lattice opening the structure allows for views out towards the city of Wuhan. The landscape areas below and surrounding the museum emphasize radiating lines and rings. The plaza features a nautical dial pattern with China’s major cities including Wuhan that are inscribed into the paving. The hardscape uses local stone materials mixed with salvaged stone and brick works from site demolition.
The building was completed in May 2018