The design of the Shanghai Planetarium draws inspiration from astronomical principles

Housed within the 400,000-sf building will be the world’s largest planetarium theater.

December 15, 2016 |

Rendering courtesy of Ennead Architects

The design of the new Shanghai Planetarium is meant to celebrate the history of Chinese astronomy while also presenting the future ambitions of China’s space exploration program, according to the buildings architect, Ennead Architects.

The 420,000-gsf structure draws its inspiration from astronomical principles and is meant to present visitors with the experience of orbital motion. The building has three principles forms in its design: the Oculus, the Inverted Dome, and the Sphere.

According to, the Oculus acts as a large sundial, projecting a circle of light onto a paved public plaza marked with times and dates of the cultural calendar. The inverted Dome acts as a large skylight, providing visitors in the central atrium an unobstructed view of the sky. The Sphere houses the planetarium theater, which the architects claim to be largest in the world. Ennead Architects says each of these three forms acts as an astrological instrument, tracking the sun, moon, and stars.

From a more functional standpoint, the building form, program, and circulation are meant to support the flow of visitors through the various galleries and the experience of the three central bodies.

The planetarium will be set within an expansive green zone that will include exterior exhibits, such as a 78-foot-high solar telescope and a Youth Observation Camp and Observatory.

The Shanghai Planetarium will be about 45 minutes from downtown Shanghai and is scheduled for completion in 2020.


Rendering courtesy of Ennead Architects


Rendering courtesy of Ennead Architects

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