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Brief Published: 4 Apr 2011

Nanjing’s Floating Museum


Stephen Holl Architects have just completed the incredible Nanjing Museum of Art and Architecture – an improbable looking structure, which appears to almost float above the city of Nanjing in China.

The unusual building was inspired by the spatial compositions of traditional Chinese paintings – a genre famous for its watery layers and illusory contours – and as such the design concept is anchored in interwoven corridors and stairwells.

In one area, a single winding passageway is elevated by two large stilts to create an intimate gallery space that guides visitors towards a large window, revealing views over the city. In another, an additional open-air staircase leads to the upper gallery, which appears suspended above a central courtyard.

Lower walls made from dark grey, bamboo-formed concrete offer a contrast of texture and colour from the smooth white walls of the upper space.