Coop Himmelb(l)au, the Vienna-based cooperative architectural design firm led by Wolf D. Prix, has completed the Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) in Shenzhen in southeast China, a massive project that combines two independent institutions into a unified, dynamic structure.
Built as part of the Futian Cultural District—Shenzhen’s new urban center—MOCAPE comprises seven stories over 80,000 square meters, or approximately 861,000 square feet, and rises 40 meters (131 feet) tall. The institutions will share the lobby, multifunctional exhibition halls, auditorium, conference rooms, and service areas.
Made of irregularly-shaped volumes that seem to twist and swoop in on one another, and clad in natural stone louvers and reflective insulated glass that give off a metallic appearance, the futuristic and dramatic complex looks like a portal into space. Inside the cavernous plaza, a shiny and silvery organic blob called the “Cloud” takes center stage and houses a cafe, bookstore, and museum gift shop. It also joins the exhibition spaces of both museums with elevated bridges and ramps.
Coop Himmelb(l)au won the competition to design MOCAPE in 2007 and revealed a few years later that portions of it would be built by robots. The architects have not yet confirmed whether this was actually the case.