Works Appreciation
Tangshan National Geopark Museum
Museums are the cathedrals of our secular times, and in Tangshn a showcase was commissioned by local authorities to celebrate the discovery of two early human skulls. In China today, surviving fragments of ancient times are eagerly exploited for their tourist potential, and the Fangshan Geopark National Museum is a product of the drive to bring culture to the masses. A more spacious and accessible site was carefully chosen to give an great opportunity for the success of the project. The location is one of great natural beauty, an hour’s drive from the provincial capital of Nanjing. Mountains conceal a nearby town and the hotels that are clustered around hot springs. It is also near the cave where the bones of homo erectus Nankinensis were found, and a scattering of bright stones that (according to local legend) cascaded from the sky. The program called for an archeological and historical museum, with twin theaters, research facilities and a playground for children. A five-level building was created that seems to grow organically from the slope, its sweeping curves extending the natural topography of the site and the mountains beyond. The fa?ade was to have been clad in locally quarried stone, but this was deemed too expensive, and fiberglass reinforced concrete panels were used to achieve a similar look. Windows are screened with a metal brise soleil, and the display areas occupy the front of the building, with service areas to the rear. The client asked that the lecture theater be given a prominent position, and this is contained within a concrete blob in Decq’s trademark red, emerging from the fa?ade. The interior of the museum offers a thrilling architectural promenade that flows around a vertiginous, skylit atrium and the result is very fluid. One could liken the experience to a stream flowing between rocks, in continuous fluid motion.