Mocape, Museum Of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition Shenzhen

Mocape, Museum Of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition Shenzhen

Serero Architects
Shenzhen, China

Mocape, Museum Of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition Shenzhen

Serero Architects as Architects

Gongshi (or Scholar's Rocks) is the term for stones that were collected by Chinese scholars because they resembled mountains (both famous and imaginary) and similar natural wonders of the world around. They represented a focus for meditation of religious or philosophic principles and served for contemplation prior to writing poems or painting. Chinese learned to admire the rocks for "surfaces that suggest great age, forceful profiles that evoke the grandeur of nature, overlapping layers or planes that impart depth, and hollows or perforations that create rhythmic, harmonious patterns." For over 1,000 years, Chinese literati and Taoist monks often brought these mountains into their studios for meditation and contemplation while they wrote or painted.

Our proposal for the MOCAPE aims in similar terms to question the way the people consider an art museum, and its relationship with its urban environment. It is a point of singularity in the master plan of the Shenzhen Civic Centre. The MOCAPE is not a building, it is rather conceived as a rock , which geometry has been sculpted by program and by its surrounding condition. It is wrapped by a continuous surface which integrates strong structural characteristics with ornamental pattern inspired by the traditional Chinese puzzle called the Tangram.


The MOCAPE volume is generated from our analysis of the building’s program. The museum is conceived as a set of separate entities, which are interconnected and can function together. The building has a torus shape delimitating an interior courtyard, opened to the rest of the city. It is composed of a base, a main plateau and three vertical protuberances.

The base is supported by 5 different feet placed around a reflecting pool of 2500 m2. These feet give access to the 3 interacting entities of the museum: the MOCA program and activities, the Planning and Exhibition department and the shared spaces by these 2 institutions with offices, reception and multipurpose halls.

These 3 vertical protuberances of 28, 32 and 40 meters high , are connected together by an elevated plateau, a continuous exhibition hall of 15 000 m2, with 7 meters ceiling height. Each of the floor plates of these entities are reducing in size when they are higher, as they host more private activities.

The first underground floor of the museum is a parking garage for 250 cars, with conference halls and technical rooms and the second underground floor ( 5 meters high ceiling) is used for the storage and the maintenance of artworks.


The MOCAPE façade and rooftop system is a continuous surface with glass and steel cladding, which wraps around the whole building. Like the ancient Chinese puzzle, the Tangram, this surface is composed of triangular and square panels. They are creating at 3 different scale a set of figures (both abstract and figurative) which are endlessly changing the amount of light penetrating in the museum spaces and filtering the views to the surrounding buildings and to the museum interior courtyard.

The façade is a structural lattice, which operates at different scale. It combines photovoltaic panels to offset the building energy needs, as well as automatic solar shade systems included in the thickness of the glass to control the museum interior environment.


The museum is a made of concrete slabs with triangulated ribs supported by concrete columns. This large span system allows for greater flexibility of the exhibition halls. The façade anchored to the slabs is structurally participating to the stability of the building. Elevator and staircase shafts as well as atrium perforated concrete envelope are efficient structural and seismic bracing for the whole building. ROCK GARDEN

In the central courtyard of the museum, a reflecting pool with “floating” rocks stimulates the visitors to enter in a state of meditation and observation of nature, in the same way that artists traditionally got inspired by these settings. It is a mineral and vegetal garden, which provides both a public space inside of the museum as well as an outdoor extension to the museum activities.

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