Located on an island at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the Shanghai Yangtze River Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Nature Preserve will be a 427,000-sf facility comprising a dual-function aquarium and research facility. The project will help rescue critically endangered species and restore biodiversity to a habitat plagued by pollution.
The facility will include a series of interior and exterior pools for breeding and raising both Chinese sturgeon and finless porpoises. The pools will mimic the species’ natural migration into waters of varying size and salinity. There will also be dedicated facilities for research and to assist with reintegration to the animals’ natural habitat. The work being done will be visible to visitors through an immersive aquarium and exhibit experience.
The facility’s design will feature undulating forms inspired by the rippling surface of the adjacent river and the landscape of the Upper Yangtze. Curving wooden structural ribs surround a central spine that joins the building’s three wings. A lightweight enclosure system is clad in translucent PTFE to allow natural daylight into the interior.
Other sustainable design strategies include a cross-laminated timber structural system, geothermal heating and cooling loops, and constructed wetlands of local flora and waterborne plants for rapid carbon sequestration and a process of biofiltration for aquarium water.
Suspended walkways and viewing areas will cross the campus and allow visitors to immerse themselves in the landscape design that reconstructs the shoreline system and the variety of ecoregions throughout the Yangtze River basin.