A new nature reserve and public aquarium is set to be constructed on an island in the Yangtze River - China's largest river. The reserve aims to rescue endangered species and restore biodiversity to the polluted area while providing a public space for visitors to enjoy a natural wonderland, separated from Shanghai’s urban landscape.
Ennead Architects won the international design competition for the Estuary Nature Preserve and will be led by Ennead’s design partner Thomas Wong in collaboration with Andropogon Landscape Architects. Entire structure spans 40,000 square metres and will feature an aquarium and research facility, which will primarily focus on repopulating the Chinese Sturgeon and Finless Porpoise species. The complex will feature interior and exterior pools that mimic the natural waters of their habitats for the species to be bred and raised safely. In addition to this, there will be facilities dedicated to research on the species and reintegrating them back into the wild.
The Chinese Sturgeon | Carnivora
The Finless Porpoise | Max Duncan Vimeo
The immersive aquarium and exhibition experience allows visitors to view the creatures and the research, encouraging them to engage with the endangered species on a personal level. The complex will be constructed in order to gain support for ecological conservation – both in its engagement with the public and in its unique design. Suspended walkways and viewing areas will connect the campus throughout, allowing visitors to become immersed in the space.
The building’s façade will take on a fluid, undulating style that alludes to the surrounding river and the Yangtze landscape. wooden structural ribs curve around the central spine of the building and connect to the wings of the building – creating a sense of flow and unity.
The interior pools will be enclosed in a lightweight, translucent PTFE that allows for natural light to flood the space – ensuring the species’ new home perfectly mimics their original habitat.
The design of the building combines the cross-laminated timber structural system, geothermal heating and cooling loops, creating an artificial wetland with local flora and water plants that enables for efficient carbon appropriation and biofiltration processing for the aquarium water. The design of the landscape will aid in reconstructing the shoreline and the ecoregions that are prominent throughout the Yangtze River Basin.
The Estuary Nature Preserve will create a space that is open for the public to engage with China’s endangered species while promoting biodiversity and awareness of the environment.
Concept images by Ennead Architects