One of the best kept secrets in the world of architecture seems to have leaked… in China. Long celebrated in the Middle East for its climatic awareness and passive efficiency, traditional Islamic design reflects an astute awareness of nature. Mashrabiya screens create privacy and shading while permitting daylighting and natural ventilation.
Traditional building materials such as earth were used because of their superior thermal performance. And buildings were oriented for optimum shading in summer and winter solar gain. Sure Architecture has borrowed from these techniques in their curvilinear design of the Yinchuan Exhibition Center in Northern China.
The Yinchuan Exhibition Center is located in Northwest China. Its double skin combats thermal loss while the unique polyhedron shape encourages wind and other elements to gloss over the building, thereby reducing the energy load and perhaps even maintenance.
Like the Mashrabiya screen in Islamic design, the perforated skin permits natural light and promotes maximum airflow throughout the 25, 300 square meter museum.
Low e-glass further ensures maximum energy efficiency, while an automated shading system ensures that the building never gets too hot. This intervention alone has the potential to drastically reduce how much energy the giant building gobbles up.
As is almost always the case, Sure Architecture’s use of Islamic design for this highly visible project is no coincidence; instead it stands as a testament of the growing ties between China and the Middle East.
Albeit larger and flashier than the kind of design we most respect, even we have to admit that the facade is as striking as it is sensible.