Case Study 10

The Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition


The Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) is standing out as the next global architectural landmark in the revived Futian Cultural District of Shenzhen, China.
Covering 233,447m2 and offering 861,112m2 of floor space, the seven-storey building is turning heads with its world-class, environmentally-friendly design that makes extensive use of nickel-containing stainless steel.
Designed by Vienna-based architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, MOCAPE combines the synergies of two independent institutions—the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Planning Exhibition (PE)—as a cultural meeting point and venue for architectural exhibitions. While both museums are designed as separate entities to highlight their individual functions, the institutions are unified in a monolithic body enveloped by a multifunctional façade.
The museum’s stunning façade is structurally independent of the main building, and its transparent design offers visitors an unhindered view of the cityscape from inside the open and column-free exhibition area. This design feature was achieved using a combination of glass with a skin of 51% perforated, Type 316L (UNS S31603) stainless steel panels.
Standing 40m tall, the roof of the museum was also designed to filter natural light for the exhibition rooms, delivering energy efficiencies and reducing the need for artificial lighting. Solid panels of 3mm, glass-bead blasted Type 316L stainless steel was used to construct the roof and is also exhibited on the grand entrance canopy and exits.
The nickel-containing stainless steel panels cover a total surface area of 40,000m2 and were specified for its corrosion resistance, surface finish quality and light-reflecting properties.
Inside MOCAPE, Type 304L (UNS S30403) stainless steel was used at large on the metal claddings of all stairs, ramps and bridge walkways, as well as the façade of what is known as the ‘Cloud’, which connects the exhibition rooms of both museums.


Featured in the central atrium of MOCAPE, the Cloud is a remarkable piece of architecture.
Inspired by Constantin Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse and the moon of Mars, the Cloud’s complex shape, and design is constructed of approximately 387 tonnes of welded Type 304L stainless steel panels which make up the exterior cladding. The panels were polished to achieve a homogenous surface and mirror-like effect which quite literally reflects back the spirit of the museum through the movement of its visitors, lights and colours.
The Cloud used robotic technology to manufacture, mount, weld and finish the exterior skin. According to the architect, the combination of robotic construction with 3D printing allowed more freedom and flexibility in its structural and aesthetic design. It allowed high precision as well as economical benefits by significantly reducing construction downtime.
Opened in September 2016, MOCAPE’s extensive use of nickel-containing stainless steel is certain to provide the aesthetic appeal, durability, structural and material performance required to stand the test of time.

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