The Shanghai Natural History Museum, inspired by the garden design of its homeland, integrates the spirt of nature and architecture. Adjacent to an urban sculpture park, the museum rises up as a spiraling landscaped plane surrounding an oval pond, its shape recalling the harmonious forms and proportions of a nautilus shell, one of the purest geometric forms found in nature. Through its relationship to the site, the drama of the exterior features and its interior detailing, the museum represents the harmony of man and nature.
Within this spiraling plane is an oval courtyard containing a stepped garden composed of rock formations and water in the tradition of the “Mountain Water Garden.” The structural framing and sun shade lining the courtyard is an abstraction of patterns found in traditional Chinese garden pavilions, while also referencing the human cell. The north wall suggests the layering of tectonic plates, with the “living” east wall forming an arcade representing the vegetation of the earth’s surface. Together, these features focus our awareness on the fundamental elements of the natural world: plants, earth and water.