Book Express
Published: Jun 08, 2022 06:42 PM
Round Heaven, Square Earth

Another example of the neoclassic Chinese architecture is the Shanghai Museum that is located at one of China's most developed urban centers - the city of Shanghai. The Shanghai Museum is located on the north-south axis of Shanghai People's Square, north of the busy commercial pedestrian street of Yan'an Road in the south and facing the municipal government across People's Square and People's Avenue. 

The museum was completed in 1996. By then, it was one of the largest art museums in China in the past, hosting treasures such as Chinese porcelains, paintings, calligraphy works, and also precious artifacts such as  lacquerware and jade products. 

The museum with a total building area of 38,000 square meters was built in 1994. Its shape looks like a "tripod caldron." The artistic conception of the museum's design implies the Chinese traditional concept of "round Heaven and square Earth." The lower part is square and the upper part is round. 

The square part is in the shape of a two-level platform, similar to the base and steps in Chinese traditional architecture. There are four towering archways with exaggerated shapes on top, symbolizing east, west, south and north around the center. In terms of architectural shapes, "square" symbolizes all directions, "round" means circulation of cultural origins, and "archway" represents opening up to the world. 

The museum has unique design that provides a panoramic view. This contour and shape are rarely seen in large public buildings of the same period in other Chinese cities. The architecture style delivers a sense of grandeur and solemnity.

About the book 

Chinese Architecture Written by Cai Yanxin Published by China Intercontinental Press, Beijing, 2018