Nature Reserve and Public Aquarium of Shanghai

Ennead Architects has won the international design competition to design the new Shanghai Yangtze River Estuary Nature Preserve in China. Located on an island at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the design was made to raise public awareness around the impact of pollution and construction. The nature reserve aims to rescue critically endangered species and restore biodiversity. The project, officially referred to as the ‘shanghai yangtze river estuary chinese sturgeon nature preserve’, is set within a 17.5-hectare landscape.





The 427,000 GSF building comprises a dual-function aquarium and research facility, bringing together efforts to repopulate dwindling numbers of Chinese Sturgeon and Finless Porpoise. The program includes a series of interior and exterior pools for breeding and raising both species, as well as research facilities dedicated to their reintegration into the wild. Importantly, the project makes the work of the institution visible to visitors through an immersive aquarium and exhibit experience.



Externally, the design features forms that rise in undulating, fluid gestures taking cues from the rippling surface of the river and the surrounding landscape. Gently curving wooden structural ribs radiate around a central spine that unites the three wings of the building. Clad in translucent PTFE, the lightweight enclosure envelops the pools to create a luminous, daylight-maximizing interior.



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