The new Shanghai Museum of Glass is located on a former glass manufacturing and processing site in the northern District of Baoshan, Shanghai (China). The site covers a total area of 40,300sqm and consists of thirty industrial buildings varying in age, condition and scale, with most of them still being used by glass related industries. The owner, Shanghai Glass Co., aimed to upgrade the site, and selected two buildings to become the Shanghai Museum of Glass to kick start the project. It is the first glass museum in China, and one of the first museums in China based on a modern, interactive experience exhibition concept.
The museum covers an area of 5,500sq.m spread over two existing and two new building sections hosting the museum exhibition space, a glass art gallery, several workshops for both artists and visitors, event and temporary exhibition spaces, a café and offices, storage and supporting facilities. The Shanghai Museum of Glass building is the first and central building of an under-planning; glass, art, research and technology park that will be branded G+ Glass Theme Park (G+ Park).
Due to the projects (current) industrial site location and lack of public transport conditions along with the time investment to travel to the site; the Shanghai Museum of Glass needed a compelling reason for people visit. This includes the museum’s un-mistakable façade and its’ multi-functional design all within the context of the G+ Park.
The Glass Museum acts as landmark and main image for the project. Its entrance building is equipped with an outstanding façade made of especially treated glass, and will be the icon and “loss leader” for the project. It is located at the main plaza, clearly visible for passersby and serves as entrance for the site, providing information about the project and leading visitors through the building or along the central axis.
Around the Glass Museum building, the new G+ Park will be developed. It will encompass a sculpture square for artists and creators, science and research facilities and a business park with commercial facilities. This G+ Park will be a new landmark in the culture, art and commercial landscape of Baoshan district and indeed China.
Buildings are more than just a temporary housing of a certain function. They are designed and build to last decades, and many of them, like the existing ones on the G+ Park site, are of a good construction quality and feature an open, flexible layout. But more than that, these buildings reflect the period of time when they were built, the social and economical situation of a city at time of construction, and of course the functions they were designed for. Hence, buildings are a part of or cultural heritage.
The museum is based on two existing buildings, a former glass bottle factory and a warehouse. As an urban regeneration adaptive reuse project, one of the museum’s main concepts was to preserve existing structures and rediscover the original character of the buildings. To make them suitable for museum usage the existing structures were cleaned-up, reinforced and upgraded with up-to-date building technologies for new windows and installations. Now, these parts of the project transcend the history and former usage of the site.
In addition to the existing structures, two new elements were added to the museum complex to enhance usability, exhibition requirements and visitor experience. A glass void is now connecting the two existing buildings on both exhibition floors, enabling a convenient visitor routing and providing an additional space for temporary exhibitions or events. Wrapping half around the former warehouse a two floor steel structure was added to provide spaces for; a representative and daylight lit entrance lobby, café and museum shop facing the main entrance plaza, restoration workshops, offices and restrooms along the side façade. Both old and new building parts are clearly visible on the façades and on the interior spaces of the museum, providing an additional theme to the exhibition connecting history and future.