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The 196 meter long curvy and twisting China Wood Sculpture Museum in Harbin, China, by MAD Architects is complete. Unveiled building, sheathed in metal, sits nestled in a densely populated Chinese-style residential area, adding a cultural and surreal essence to the surrounding urban context. Harbin gets regular snowfall and is known as the Ice City, so MAD Architects designed the Museum with a horizontal, twisted body modeled on the shapes made by frozen liquids. Beijing-based MAD first revealed images of the China Wood Sculpture Museum in 2011, when construction began. Now is the moment when we can finally compare for ourselves how these seductive and shiny, curved structures actually look when built.
Museum is clad in plates of polished steel, mirroring the surrounding and changing light, interrupted by curving strips of glazing forming central entrance, windows and skylights. In the words of the architects, the museum actually embodies some of the foremost conceptual and formal ideas that define the work of MAD, bringing out an expression and abstraction of nature to an otherwise quotidian surrounding. The aim was to reference the local natural scenery and landscape; therefore the boundaries between solid and liquid are blurred throughout the building.
Regarding the sustainable measures taken in order to design this Museum as much self-sustaining as possible, the solid walls ensure minimal heat loss, while the sufficient natural diffused illumination of the interior is provided by emerging skylights that split the surface, allowing low-hanging northern-China sun in.
The China Wood Sculpture Museum is the first completed structure in the Harbin Cultural Island development – MAD Architects were commissioned to design a trio, including opera house and cultural center.