Spanning 58,600-square-meters, the Shanghai Astronomy Museum boasts the world’s largest planetarium and it just opened to the public today. The museum itself showcases innovative architecture, compete with themed exhibition areas, immersive technologies, and scientific collections. When viewed from the air, the main building resembles a collection of astronomical instruments with a circular skylight, an inverted spherical dome, and a dome theater. Read more for a video tour and additional information.
The Oculus, which is suspended above the main entryway, shows the passage of time by tracking a circle of sunlight on the ground across the entry plaza and reflecting pool. Now the most eye-catching piece would have to be the Sphere, the structure that houses the planetarium theater, which is half submerged in the building. With minimal visible support, it aims to evoke the illusion of weightlessness or anti-gravity. An Inverted Dome is the large inverted glass tension structure you see, which sits atop of the central atrium of the building at the roof line. It is where visitors can occupy the center of the glass dish for an unimpeded view of the sky.
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In making this building, we wanted to create a place where the institutional mission is fully enmeshed with an architecture that itself is teaching, and finds form in some of the fundamental principles that shape our universe. The big idea of the Shanghai Astronomy Museum was to infuse a visceral experience of the subject matter into the design, and to deliver that before you even enter the building. And at the end of your visit, there is this culminating moment directly with the sky, which is framed and supported by the architecture,” said Thomas J. Wong, Design Partner at Ennead Architects.