The biggest entomological museum in Asia named after a person, Zhou Yao Insect Museum, is relocated to a new building designed by DDB Architects in collaboration with Sitarch Lab, situated in a more than 3,000 square meter area in Zhejiang Province, China. It bears Professor Zhou Yao’s name, regarded as the founding father of Chinese entomology. The new museum is built inside Yinzhou Park (known as Ningbo’s “green lung” and serves as both a themed museum and a memorial to Professor Zhou Yao. The city now has a venue that meets the needs of modern exhibitions since the new design has addressed the problems the previous structure had. Additionally, it offers a platform for the general public to see displays, learn, engage with others, and experience the outdoors.
“Butterflies” are essential to the design’s initial concept, as the proposal employs the “butterfly triangle” as the prototype and uses the chamfered triangle, a metaphor for butterfly wings, as the design motif in the architectural shape and arrangement, both of which were inspired by the abstracted butterfly form. Meanwhile, the parametric gradient glazing of the building’s surface effectively captures the ultra-lightweight and delicate characteristics of an insect’s wings. Together, they forge a unique shape that is not just imitation but also more in keeping with the museum’s overall ethos.
The physical traits of the land determine how the structure is arranged in space. The arrangement of the entire site, stressing the relationship with nature, was chosen through the combined design of the inside exhibition area and the outdoor public space. At the level of the plan, several functions are grouped into variously sized “butterfly triangles.” The 1m difference in height between the road and the park allowed for the naturally occurring form of a set of stairs in this leisure space, which is located on the north side of the building. It promotes a variety of interactions with the area and aids in creating an integrated indoor-outdoor experience.
The building’s overall appearance is dynamic due to the land restriction, the efficient use of space on the first level, and the facade design. Two full-height circulation areas are built at the ends of the building, the foyer, and the “butterfly valley,” making use of the height differential to create a 3D butterfly triangle. On the side facing the shoreline, the façade looks to be dancing; the space is merged into the park grounds and becomes the park’s stage. The facade facing the city road is light, beautiful, and dynamic, creating a distinct urban image.
The facade’s white glazed glass produces a rhythmic pattern with a gentle, almost vanishing look. It creates a facade that is as light as wings when combined with the progressive gradient shift of the skin components. Through precise parametric design management, the curtain wall elements and gaps between the curtain panels are successfully concealed in the glazed patterns.
Architects: DDB Architects, Sitarch Lab
Location: NINGBO, CHINA
Area: 2986 m²
Lead Architect: Zhepeng Xu
design Team: Ying Zhao, Zixuan Huang, Wenyu Guo, Yaying Zhou, Sheng Jiang, Caixuan Lin, Rongyao Xu
Photography: Qingyi Ma