The 38,000-square-meter Shanghai Planetarium will be located in the new Lingang District, a rapidly developing town southeast of Shanghai’s central business district and located close to the East China Sea. “The Museum design celebrates the continuum of time and space: it is modern and forward-looking and at the same time is a link to the past, mirroring both the rich history of Chinese astronomy and the future ambitions of China’s space exploration program,” write the architects.
Inspired by astronomical principles, the building’s dynamic design comprises three main elements: the Oculus, the Inverted Dome, and the Sphere; these elements also serve as astronomical instruments. The centrally located Oculus tracks the sun’s path across the museum grounds to mark the passage of time. The Inverted Dome is located at the end of the permanent exhibit sequence and offers wide and spectacular views of the sky dome. The iconic, pearl-like Sphere contains the 18-meter-diameter Optical Planetarium Theater; a continuous skylight wraps around the suspended Sphere to let in sunlight below.
In addition to the permanent exhibits and planetarium theater, the Shanghai Planetarium will also include temporary exhibit galleries, a 21-meter-diameter Digital Sky Theater, IMAX Theater, education and research center, solar telescope, youth observation camp, and observatory. The $95 million project is expected to open in 2018.