The project site consists of two 100-year-old German warehouses that will be conjoined to create the 150,000 SF museum; 75,000 SF of the site will be for the Metro Museum, while 64,000 square feet will be for commercial use including restaurants, a café, and gift shop. The museum is a key part of the area’s broader redevelopment of Wuhan’s historical concession district of Hankou, where two office towers are under development next to the site.
In collaboration with museum researcher Johnathan Hale, a professor at the University of Nottingham, GF analyzed a series of museum circulations to manifest a clear and concise space layout and circulation direction of flow that will stimulate and excite a sense of discovery, while also feeling natural and logical for visitors to follow. Wei Chen, a structural engineer consultant with Schlaich Bergermann Partner, worked closely with the team as well.
Visitors are taken on an immersive journey as they enter the museum. One of the entrances lies inside the Line 7 Metro Station underground. Grand escalators will bring visitors all the way to the top of the four-level museum, giving them an opportunity to view the beauty of each floor through incased glass as they ascend. A tunnel-boring machine (TBM), used to excavate metro tunnels, serves as the museum’s focal point; it extends two floors and is visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows outside of the building. A circular ramp surrounds the TBM, giving visitors an up-close experience with its various parts.
The Visitor’s Center sits at the museum’s top level. Visitors can view the museum’s cabinet of curiosities (or small collections of objects) as they descend an atria spiral staircase from the fourth level to the ground level. Restaurants and a sculpture garden create areas for socializing on the ground level. An auditorium with the flexibility to isolate internal parts of the museum, or expand for big events, is also located on the ground level.
Several Metro Museums have emerged across China in recent years; this will be the largest and most comprehensive to date. The museum is a philanthropic collaboration between Wuhan Metro Group and the Chinese government to create a cultural building. The project is expected to cost $40.8 million and is scheduled to open in September 2019.