Located on an island at the mouth of the Yangtze River and set within a 17.5-hectare landscape, the 427,000 GSF nature reserve building comprises a dual-function aquarium and research facility, bringing together efforts to repopulate the dwindling numbers of Chinese Sturgeon and Finless Porpoise with an engagement of the public to build popular support for ecological conservation.
The dramatic architecture evolves out of a dialogue between the natural and constructed worlds, representing the project’s stance on sustainability and an idealized balance between humanity and all other species, and resulting in forms that simultaneously evoke landscape, biomorphic anatomy and a vessel-like ark.
The building rises in undulating fluid gestures that take their cues from the rippling surface of the river and the iconic landscape of the Upper Yangtze. The program includes a series of interior and exterior pools for breeding and raising Chinese Sturgeon and Finless Porpoise, mimicking their natural migration into waters of varying size and salinity, as well as facilities dedicated to the research and reintegration of these species to their natural habitat. The project makes the important work of the institution visible to visitors through an immersive aquarium and exhibit experience, bringing them into direct contact with its activities.