Children’s comics have grown into a sophisticated art form, and the design for China’s Comic and Animation Museum reflects this, bringing the comic to life in an exciting 3D interpretation of the 2D speech bubble. Each bubble has a specific function: entrance, education, theatre/cinema, and comic library. These forms meet, creating openings and exciting collisions of light and sound, as well as a diverse set of flexible exhibition spaces and facilities.
Comics and animations have long been considered a form of entertainment for younger children, but have developed more and more, particularly in Asia, into a sophisticated art form. The initiative to specially house this relatively new art form creates a platform which will unite the worlds of art and entertainment. By taking the form of one of the key graphic elements of comics, the speech balloon, the building is instantly recognizable as being devoted to comics and animations.
The 2D speech balloon becomes a 3D symbol and a space. 30.000m2 of space are distributed over eight volumes, which are interconnected to form a circular route of the entire program. Additional programmatic elements such as the lobby, education space, three theatres/cinemas with in total 1111 seats and a comic book library each occupy their own balloon. Where balloons touch, a large opening allows access and views between the volumes.
The balloon shape offers versatile possibilities for exhibtions: the permanent collection is presented in a chronological spiral whereas the temporary exhibition hall offers total flexibility. Amsterdam based exhibition designers Kossman de Jong tested the spaces and designed exhibition configurations which appeal to different age groups and allow large crowds to visit the exhibition. One of the balloons is devoted to an interactive experience in which visitors can actively experiment with animation techniques such as green screen, stop motion, drawing, facial animation and so on.
The core attraction of this space is a gigantic 3D zoetrope. The routing of the museum permits short or long visits, visits to the cinema, the temporary exhibition or the roof terrace restaurant. The façade of the museum is covered in a cartoon-style reliefs, its finish making reference to traditional Chinese ceramics.
The monochrome white concrete façade also allows the speech balloons to function as a screen: texts and images can be projected onto the façade to animate it. The museum will contain a multitude of sustainability features such as natural ventilation and adiabatic cooling, all focused on providing excellent energy efficiency. Most of the 13.7 ha site is occupied by a new park on a series of islands in White Horse Lake, where new reed beds are used to improve the water quality.
The new Museum will be the icon of a larger development, the Comic and Animation Centre. It comprises a series of hill-shaped buildings containing offices, a hotel and a conference centre of which the first phase is close to completion.
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