Yunnan Museum
Kunming City, Yunnan Province
People’s Republic of China

500,000 SF • WITH AEDAS

Davis Brody Bond led an international team to design this 500,000 sf museum for the art, culture, and natural history of Yunnan Province. Our goal was a building that draws on the best ideas from all over the world to speak in the voices of Yunnan. The region’s twenty-six cultural groups share an appreciation of variety, and the Museum’s form evokes this balanced diversity.

As is customary in China, we gave the design a guiding theme: “The Many Colors.” Starting with the unity of a white square, we reveal within it a continuity of hues and forms — each one distinct, but overlapping. We also considered Yunnan’s spectacular natural landscapes. It was impossible to choose one among many, so we used an iconic plateau to signify the province’s high elevation. The building becomes a stack of plateaus, the flat tops of which indicate the continuity of Yunnan. The undersides of these plateaus turn up dramatically to reveal vivid colors symbolizing Yunnan’s peoples.

The site is a developing area southeast of central Kunming City with few distinguishing features apart from a canalized stream to Lake Di’an. The Museum’s landscape reclaims and enhances the sustainability of its surrounds. The design encourages access to the water, transforming the hard canal edge into wetlands that provide a natural filtration system and wildlife habitat. The site layout limits the presence of vehicles without compromising access; most parking is in the building’s plinth, raising exhibit areas above the potential flood level. The Museum’s green roof serves as an educational garden.

A Performing Arts Center is planned immediately south of the Museum. The two institutions will form a cultural district that takes advantage of economies of scale in site planning and public transit. An Energy Center at the rear of the site will provide HVAC and electrical service for all facilities, and will be submerged in landscape berms to minimize its visual impact.