ISABEL RUBIO ARROYO | Tungsteno
The Chengdu Science Fiction Museum looks like something from the future, or at least that is the impression given by the digital images produced by Zaha Hadid Architects, the firm responsible for designing the structure. It is a space under construction, conceived as part of Chengdu’s ambition to become a sponge city to mitigate flooding, that will host one of the most prestigious events for science fiction lovers at the end of 2023: the annual Worldcon convention.
A museum that seems to float on a lake
The 59,000-square-metre museum, which appears to be floating on a lake, will include exhibition galleries, a theatre, a conference hall, and other spaces. It has been designed using digital modelling analysis. This technique has numerous advantages. In addition to identifying and solving problems before physical construction begins—helping to reduce costs and risks—it can optimise various aspects of the design, such as energy efficiency and daylighting.
The museum will have a central atrium illuminated by the sun and a large window offering panoramic views of a mountain range. "The fluid forms of its roof radiate from a central point within, emulating an expanding nebula cloud with a star at its centre—transforming the museum into a 'star cloud' that disperses energy fields into its many different zones; guiding visitors through a portal that connects our lived experience with our imagination," says Zaha Hadid's studio.
The architects expect the museum to be ready for a major event in October 2023. Credit: Atchain / Zaha Hadid Architects.
Photovoltaic panels and a rainwater filtration system
Its creators are committed to building an innovative and sustainable museum. The roof will be equipped with photovoltaic panels to power the building, and it is the ideal size to shade the glass facades in the summer. "Landscaped with plants native to the region, the design collects and stores rainwater for natural filtration and reuse, allowing Jingrong Lake to become an integral part of Chengdu's sustainable drainage system that will mitigate flooding and increase biodiversity throughout the city," says the architecture firm.
If there is a key figure in avant-garde architecture, it is undoubtedly the Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who was the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize—the world's highest architectural award—and who died in 2016. Her studio continues to design and build all kinds of structures. Since its founding in 1979, the firm has completed 950 projects in 44 countries.
In recent years, the firm has sought to find ecological solutions. This is the case, for example, of the headquarters of BEEAH, an environmental management company, built between 2014 and 2022 in the Al Sajaa desert in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates). The structure is designed to be naturally ventilated and incorporates technologies that aim to regulate the building's temperature with minimal energy consumption.
The BEEAH headquarters incorporates several sustainable solutions. Credit: Huffington + Crow / Zaha Hadid Architects.
The city at the epicentre of science fiction
Construction of the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum began in 2022 and is still ongoing, according to a post published by the architecture firm in June 2023. It is no coincidence that the site chosen for this futuristic structure is Chengdu. The city, located in southwest China, is a leading incubator of science fiction writing in the country. For example, Science Fiction World magazine, one of the genre’s most popular publications, has been published in the city for more than four decades.
By the end of this year, the structure will be ready to host the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) and the Hugo Awards—one of the most prestigious awards in the science fiction universe. Zaha Hadid's firm has a clear objective: "Connecting the past, present and future, the Chengdu Science Fiction Museum will become a vibrant centre of innovation and a gathering place for the city."
· — —
Tungsteno is a journalism laboratory to scan the essence of innovation.