After years of stone mining, the manufacturer found many fossils. The manufacturer decided to dedicate the headquarters building to a museum to tell the history of fossils and the natural science of studying them. There are two major challenges. The first is the conflict between private headquarters and public museums. The second is the direct sunlight gained in the atrium space. The addition of museum space will further limit the lack of light in office Spaces.

Studio Name: Atelier Alter Architects
Chief Designers: Xiaojun Bu, Yingfan Zhang
Design Team: Zhenwei Li, Jiahe Zhang, Lairong Zheng, Bo Huang, Leilei Ma
Area: China
Year: 2019(Completion Year)
Location: Xiamen, Fujian, China
Consultants: MEP: Gong Cheng
Photography Credits:  Atelier Alter Architects
Other Credits: Highlite Images

Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum by Atelier Alter Architects - Sheet5
©Atelier Alter Architects

Ancient rocks were first found in the crystalline base of the interior of the continent. Those crystals have been subjected to long periods of heat, pressure, mixing, and stacking to become what they are today. The original form of stone, its crystal structure, has given us a new architectural language. We introduce three intersecting crystals into the atrial space. The four-pyramid light well extends from the roof of the building to the ground floor ceiling, bringing light into the museum atrium on the ground floor, while the exhibition Spaces on the second floor and the rest of the office space are illuminated by the remaining building skylights and reflected light from the slanted exterior surfaces of the light traps. Around the vertical crystals, horizontal crystals grow and insert, eventually forming a variety of fossil galleries. The layout of the exhibition hall is determined by time and storyline. Horizontal crystals also introduce sunlight and its direction of growth into the interior space. In short, the tilted crystals interweave sunlight and exhibition Spaces.

Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum by Atelier Alter Architects - Sheet7
©Atelier Alter Architects

The resulting transformation takes on a form that penetrates the Cartesian grid. The orthogonal system of columns and beams transforms into each illuminated yet mysterious triangular space. As the heavy mass floats, the anti-gravity space places the viewer in an unknown space as if straight out of a science fiction movie. The interior and exterior of the atrium space is divided into museum and office Spaces, while the interior of the museum presents a complex crystal interior that grows infinitely. Ancient stones crystallize into different architectural Spaces, and at the same time communicate with space as exhibits across time and space.

There are no other decorations in the exhibition space. The only element used to express the sediment’s millennia-old imprint is a series of ceramic tile walls. This simplicity gives the visitor a prepositional experience of space, dimension and sunlight. The wall is not only a boundary between different functions, but has been transformed into a calm and cold cave-like environment, making the geological fossils look even older. The inner walls of the crystal also serve as the ceiling of the museum.

Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum by Atelier Alter Architects - Sheet9
©Atelier Alter Architects

The outside of the wall serves as a reflector for the office building, separating the private and public Spaces. It is difficult to express the control points in space through a two-dimensional Cartesian grid. We proposed a 3D coordinate system for space division and fully understood the design at the construction site. With the help of the total station, the spatial control points in the model are spatially precisely mapped, making construction possible. The materials used in the project are quite informative to highlight how sunlight touches the space and provide an appropriate environment for the exhibition of ancient fossils.

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