Shenzhen’s new Center for Literature & Art, located in southern China’s Guangdong Province near Hong Kong, exists at a cultural confluence between the arts and city residents. Positioned at the threshold between a forested mountain park and the urban center, the Museum is a contemporary landmark mediating between the rapidly growing metropolis and the landscape woven through the building’s core. Reflecting both the ordered urban elements of the surrounding cityscape and the more fluid, figurative elements of the historic city, the Center unites these divergent elements into a new whole.


Concentrated on the west, the building’s mass steps eastward, opening a direct connection between the courtyard at the building’s center and its natural context. The Center combines a range of programs, including galleries, proscenium and studio theaters, television studios, cinemas, a library and a large civic auditorium. Individual program elements are organized as a series of glass, light-filled pavilions, interspersed with a series of plazas, gardens, and reflecting pools. At the building’s center, a diagonal stair connection rises upwards from the entry, climbing eight floors to the public gathering spaces at the building’s summit. This vertical street functions as a connective network for this multiplicity of programmatic functions, creating a new interior forum for the city at large.


The building is a singular icon for creativity and also a collective sum of the programs, functions, and people supporting its multiple missions. This relationship is most significantly manifest in the building’s iridescent, multilayered façade, composed of a series of external shading devices, or brise-soleil, which block the strong Shenzhen sun. The patterned envelope provides a robust, economic means to address the multiple programmatic and energy-related requirements. Individual panels subtly shift to block harsh low-angle sunlight, while simultaneously orienting views from within the Center to the mountain landscape beyond. Visible beyond the white pixellated fabric of the building envelope, individual program elements take on a range of hues and color, creating a spectrum of activity within the singular iconography of the façade.

LOCATION / Shenzhen, China
TYPE / Literature and art museum with theater, auditorium, classrooms, workshops, and studios
SIZE / 440,000sf
STATUS / Design Completed 2010
ROLE / Design Architect
COST / $55 million