Hangzhou, China 2008



PROGRAM: exhibition space, performance space, commercial space
CLIENT: Hangzhou City Planning Bureau
    SIZE: 48,220 sq ft
STATUS: competition

The Music Museum master plan design proposes to unify the campus through the voids between buildings – like a caesura in music. The scheme identifies five voids between the buildings to form the overall morphology of the campus. The first void is the ancient garden with existing trees. The second void is the new Music Plaza with reflective pond and arrival space. The third, fourth, and fifth voids utilize the spaces between buildings with different programs, providing open areas for music performance, scholarly discussions, cafes, restaurants, and recreation. These voids are formed by simple wooden pergolas, which hark back to Song Dynasty architecture, when the first wood construction standards were published.

The new Music Plaza is flooded in a thin layer of water. Skylights at the bottom of the pond bring light down to a large gallery space below. This space is flexible and the reflecting pond can be drained to accommodate a larger audience.

The new Music Museum is based on the idea of the “Eight Sounds” in traditional Chinese music: silk, bamboo, wood, stone, metal, clay, gourd, and hide. While the exterior of the building is clad in the same wood as the pergolas, the eight volumes are each constructed from one of these eight materials. Each volume contains a chamber where visitors not only hear the music but can experience its production.


  • architect
    • – Steven Holl Architects
    • Steven Holl ( design architect, principal )
    • Li Hu ( partner in charge )
    • Chris McVoy ( partner in charge )
    • Hideki Hirahara ( associate in charge )
    • Guanlan Cao ( project architect )
    • Filipe Taboada ( project architect )
    • Human Tieliu Wu ( project architect )
    • Yimei Chan, Nathalie Frankowski, Kelvin Jia, Max Kolbowski-Frampton, Fiorenza Matteoni (project team)