Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Its form was developed as a nod to its setting beside the Bohai Sea, evoking a wave crashing onto the shore, while its scale-like cladding is intended to glisten like ripples of water.
The Wave's setting in Binhai New Area, Tianjin. Top photo: the gallery's exterior
"The whole building resembles the wave to create a dialogue between the building and nature, and the building has become a symbolic existence where the sea and the earth converge," explained the Shanghai-based architecture studio.
"In this space, people, sea, air and the sunshine establish a closer connection."
A gallery's reflection in the surrounding shallow pool
The Wave's distinctive form is created from its Y-shaped second floor, which projects out from a two-storey plinth that is surrounded by a shallow pool of water.
To achieve this while keeping the building column-free, its structure comprises a central concrete core enveloped by a complex network of steel trusses. This was developed by Lacime Architects using parametric design technologies.
Visitors below a second-floor cantilever
The museum's cladding is made up of 13,000 pieces of aluminium tiles and designed to reflect light in different ways throughout the day to evoke ripples of water.
Playful patterns of light are also reflected onto the tiles from the pool of water below, enhancing its wave-like form.
Aluminium tiles wrap the building
Visitors to the museum enter into the building's central concrete core containing a dark entrance lobby lit by an overhead skylight.
Here there are three water-curtain features and stainless steel detailing, which conceal the museum's stairs and elevators and are intended to offer "a quiet visual-tactile experience".
Above, the first floor of the building contains a bathroom and meeting room, while the second floor houses the main gallery spaces, alongside outdoor terraces, a library and bar.
The interior finishes for the upper floor are highly decorative – ranging from ceilings adorned with fabric, highly-polished floors and curvaceous furnishings and bubble-like sculptures that the studio modelled on "water in different states".
The dark entrance lobby
The museum's upper floor is also wrapped by large curtain walls that change in size with the undulating form of the building's exterior, spanning up to eight metres in height.
Lacime Architects introduced the curtain wall to maximise natural light and provide visitors with a sea view and connection to the outside, creating a stark contrast to the ground floor lobby.
The decorative second-floor bar area
As part of the project, Lacime Architects also created two pavilions and outdoor spaces that surround the museum. This includes seating areas, a children's play zone and an outdoor theatre.
One of the pavilions is positioned in the sea, accessed via a boardwalk, to encourage visitors to sit and listen to the "sounds of nature".
A view of The Wave and the floating pavilion
Lacime Architects was founded in Shanghai in 2001 by architect Zhaoqing Song. It also recently completed the Shimao Longyin Leisure Centre, which is surrounded by reflective pools that reference classical Chinese gardens.
Photography is by CAAI.
Architect: Lacime Architects Beijing Client: Shimao Lead architects: Song Zhaofang Design team: Pan Xiaobo, Wu Shuguang, Ren Yue, Luo Jia, Liu Wenfeng, Feng Bo, Zhu Tianpeng, Wei Mengrou, Yang Dehe and Shen Chenyun Gallery design: Wu Shuguang, Pan Peicheng, Xu Tao, Zhang Chende, Dong Liangchen and Tu Yuxuan Construction design: Tianjin Tianyou Architectural Design Structure design: Yuan Xin Engineering Consultant Landspace design: Tianjin Donglin Zhujing Landscape Planning and Design Interior design: Shanghai Biyu Environmental Art Design Office Curtain wall design: Shanghai Hengli Construction Decoration Engineering BIM design: Beijing Interconnection Cube Technology Service Structure construction: Tianyuan Construction Group Curtain wall construction: Beijing Tiancheng Yingliang Stone