atelier deshaus: spiral galleries in shanghai
original content
feb 17, 2013
atelier deshaus: spiral galleries in shanghai

‘spiral gallery I+II’ by atelier deshaus, shanghai, china
image © shu hei
all images courtesy of atelier deshaus



the ‘spiral galleries’, designed by chinese firm atelier deshaus, are bisected by a threshold of circulation. reflecting the principles of the yin and yang, the opposing pavilions exhibit unique characteristics that provide different experiences and still hold a strong communication with each other.


the ‘spiral gallery I,’ located further inland is composed of two spiraling concrete ribbons resting on the ground plane delineating a sequence that compresses and opens the space, bringing the visitor into an introspective environment protected by the curving walls. from the site, the structure seems a simple form, flat and solid, sitting heavily on the site. the user is brought to the roof plane, where the plan below is immediately made clear as they make their way across the helical contours until a series of stone steps submerges them into the central courtyard, slicing cyclical pathways of negative space into the mass.

bird’s eye view of both galleries
image © yao li




the interior functions – kitchen, gallery area, studio, mechanical room, bathroom, and storage area – are organized in the positive space, wrapping around the exterior path of circulation bringing the visitor to unravel their journey to the very point where they started. radially-designed wooden ceiling purlins mark the rhythm of passage, extending sight lines out towards the outer transparent facade and the surrounding landscape.

bird’s eye view of spiral gallery I
image © yao li




‘spiral gallery II’ creates a more extroverted ambiance. where the first gallery is about the journey into a solid mass, the second is about an open structure elevated into the air, displaying its character from the exterior. a glass display is rested upon a concrete base slightly below grade. the user is first brought down into a half-subterranean courtyard that penetrates to the center of the pavilion so that the enclosed structure wraps around it. a series of open and closed spaces are experienced in cycles as the user is forced to weave in and out of the gallery. the section below ground contains a glass wall exposing the lower floor to the central courtyard, with a solid concrete wall concealing the second storey. the exact inverse occurs on the program above ground, as the outer envelope is entirely made of transparent glass and thin columns allowing views over the site, and the interior wall facing the courtyard becomes solid.

approach on a natural pebble path in a wooded area
image © zhang siye

image © yao li

stone stairs leading to the rooftop
images © shu he

thick vertical walls curve fluidly around the site
image © shu he

view into the courtyard from the rooftop walkway
image © shu he

bending concrete wall compresses space before opening to the courtyard
left image © shu he
right image © yao li

(left) view into the internal space
image © pan lingfei
(right) view from the internal space
image © yao li

entrance into the gallery space from the center of the project
image © yao li

gallery space screened by thin louvers
image © shu he

view of spiral gallery II from the water
image © su shengliang

image © shu he

image © shu he

view from the walkway
image © shu he

exterior stairs leading to the central courtyard
image © shu he

internal courtyard
image © shu he

upper gallery
image © su shengliang

internal stairs to the upstairs gallery space
image © su shengliang


site plan

floor plan / level +1 : spiral gallery I

roof purlins : spiral gallery I

section: spiral gallery I

section: spiral gallery I

axonometric view : spiral gallery I

floor plan / level 0 : spiral gallery II

floor plan / level +1 : spiral gallery II

section: spiral gallery II

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