Bernard Tschumi Architects complete the Tianjin Exploratorium

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Bernard Tschumi Architects is a heavyweight studio lead by Bernard Tschumi, an architect, writer, and educator who has taught at a number of prominent schools, such as Princeton, Cooper Union, and Columbia University in New York. The Swiss-French architect, largely based in the United States is associated with the materialisation of deconstructivism in architecture. Architects whose work has been described as deconstructionist have been influenced by the philosophical work of Jacques Derrida, who sought to displace entrenched binaries and hierarchies of Western thought traditions. The architects associated with deconstructionism include the giants Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Rem Koolhaas. A characterising feature of this so-called movement is an approach that leads with experimental geometric configurations. Driven by concept, rather than function like modernism, it follows Russian Constructivism in its bold, breathtaking manipulation of form and space. Still, it avoids dissolving into the reactionary eclectics of postmodernism, giving careful attention to the purpose and usability of the building.

Bernard Tschumi Architects have recently completed a museum of epic proportions. No strangers to designing cultural strongholds, they are behind the likes of the Acropolis Museum in Athens and Alésia Museum and Archaeological Park. Their latest project, the Tianjin Exploratorium is a massive museum and exhibition complex, designed to showcase the region’s heritage in industry and manufacture. The copper-faced, rectangular structure is interrupted by rounded protrusions. These cones carve out exhibition spaces in the cavernous interior, but also act as skylights and ‘solar chimneys’ for air circulation. It will be interesting to see the pristine white spaces filled with displays, which will include rockets, and other awe-inspiring machinery.  Tianjin Exploratorium is part of a larger cultural complex, that includes the illusterous Tianjin Binhai Public Library by MVRDV.

Photography by Kris Provoost via Dezeen