Zhou Yao Insect Museum / DDB Architects + Sitarch Lab
Text description provided by the architects. Built in 1996, the Zhou Yao Insect Museum in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province is named after the revered father of Chinese entomology. It is Asia’s largest entomological museum dedicated to one person. After decades of use, it has now been moved to Yinzhou Park (known as Ningbo’s “Green Lung”) and expanded its area from 500 square meters to over 3,000 square meters. The museum is both a thematic museum and a memorial dedicated to Professor Zhou Yao. The original venue faced challenges when it came to presenting exhibits, including outdated facilities, insufficient exhibit space, and inflexible exhibition methods. The new design addressed these challenges and provided the city with a venue that meets contemporary exhibition requirements. It also acts as a public platform that hosts exposure, education, social interaction, and nature experience. Standing comfortably in its surroundings, the design created a welcoming public space for the city.
Concept: Butterflies, inspiration and embodiment
The original concept of the design revolves around “butterflies”. Inspired by the abstract butterfly shape shown in the collection, the project adopts the “butterfly triangle” as its prototype and uses the beveled triangle, a metaphor for butterfly wings, as the design motif in the architectural form and layout. Meanwhile, the ultra-light and delicate characteristics of the insect’s wings are well embodied in the parametric gradient glazing of the building’s skin. Together they create a distinctive form that is not only mimetic, but also more in keeping with the theme of the museum.
Layout: top-down connection and indoor-outdoor fusion
The spatial organization of the building is defined by the physical conditions of the site. Thanks to the integrated design of the indoor exhibition space and the outdoor public space, the layout of the entire site was decided, emphasizing the interaction with nature. At the plan level, various functions are arranged in “butterfly triangles” of varying sizes. This recreation area, located to the north of the building, was created by exploiting the 1m drop between the road and the park to naturally form a series of steps. It encourages various interactions with the space and helps generate a merged indoor-outdoor experience.
Front: Ultimate lightness and absolute details
The land restraint, the maximized use of first floor space and the facade design together create a dynamic overall image for the building. The design takes advantage of the difference in height to create a 3D butterfly triangle; two full-height circulation spaces — the foyer and the “valley of butterflies” — are created on the sides of the building. The façade facing the city road is light, elegant and dynamic, projecting a distinct urban image; while on the waterfront side, the façade seems to dance, the space integrates with the park and becomes the park stage.
The white enameled glass of the facade creates a soft, almost faded effect, forming a sequence of rhythm. In combination with the gradual gradient change of the skin units, it weaves a facade as light as wings. Through sophisticated parametric design control, the curtain wall components and divisions between curtain panels are successfully concealed within the glazed patterns.