Foster + Partners - Datong Art Museum, a hub for creative industries and global research
  1. Home
  2. Award 2023
  3. Culture
  4. Datong Art Museum, a hub for creative industries and global research

Datong Art Museum, a hub for creative industries and global research

Foster + Partners

Culture  /  Completed
Foster + Partners

The Datong government aimed to revive the ancient Datong City and create a new city to the east. The focus was on cultural development, with the Datong Art Museum serving as a hub for creative industries and global research. Designed by Foster + Partners, the museum features a flexible exhibition space, surrounded by galleries and research areas. The building's roof is composed of four interconnected ‘mountains’, clad in corroded steel plates which refer to traditional Chinese roof tiles. The passive design uses high-level skylights, natural light, and a high-performance enclosure to respond to Datong's climate. The building also offers education and learning facilities such as a children's gallery, smaller education centre, media library, and multi-purpose room.

The building's form is designed as an erupted landscape, with only the top of the roof visible at ground level. By sinking the building into the new plaza, it balances the composition of the district masterplan while maximising the internal volume. The roof is composed of four interconnected ‘mountains’ that increase in height towards the four corners of the cultural plaza. The geometry and materiality of the roof responds to the climate and landscape of Datong. Visitors approach the museum via a gentle ramp and stair that are integrated within the sunken plaza. The building's passive design responds to Datong's climate using natural light to aid orientation while minimising solar gain and ensuring the optimum environment for the works of art.

The Datong Art Museum is designed for sustainability. It has skylights that reduce the need for artificial lighting, a high-performance enclosure, and an efficient passive design strategy that responds to the local climate. The roof is insulated to twice building code requirements, and the structure is made of steel and concrete shear wall with space truss roof, using locally established manufacturing and construction techniques to meet programme and budget constraints. The building's integration of massing, low energy consumption, and naturally lit interiors has laid the benchmark for a new generation of sustainable development in the region. The museum is a benchmark for sustainable development and won the Gold Award of China's Construction Engineering Steel Structure in 2012.

Foster + Partners' design for Datong Art Museum is a stunning addition to Datong New City's cultural plaza. The building's form is conceived as an erupted landscape, with only the top of the roof visible at ground level and the main gallery spaces sunken below. This unique external design maximises the internal volume, while balancing the overall composition of the district masterplan. The Grand Gallery, a heroically scaled, top-lit flexible exhibition space measuring 37-metres-high and spanning almost eighty metres, is the centrepiece of the venue and will house large-scale works of art. A series of galleries and research spaces surround the Grand Gallery Hall, and further exhibition spaces, with state-of-the-art climate controls, are placed around the perimeter of the museum. The building's efficient passive design responds to Datong's climate, with high-level skylights taking advantage of the building's north and north-west orientation and a high-performance enclosure reducing energy use. The integration of building massing, low energy consumption, and naturally lit interiors sets a new benchmark for sustainable development in the region.

With its modern architectural language, Datong Art Museum has become one of the cultural landmarks of Datong City. Since its opening, it’s hosted many influential exhibitions, which have been well received. An art gallery is not only a place to display works of art, but also a communication platform that brings together artists and audiences. I believe that this building will make a great contribution to the art and culture of Datong City and attract more people to appreciate the charm of art.


 Datong New City
 Datong Municipal Administration of Culture Broadcasting Television Press and Publication
 32239 mq
 Foster + Partners
 Foster + Partners
 Yang Chaoying/Foster + Partners


Foster + Partners is a global studio for sustainable architecture, urbanism, engineering and design, founded by Norman Foster in 1967. With offices across the world, the practice works as a single entity that is both ethnically and culturally diverse, with people central to all our endeavours.

Practice Structure
The partners, who are all shareholders, are the core of the practice. They are central to our continuing evolution and take responsibility for all projects, which are shared amongst our six architectural studios. Maintaining the design ethos of the practice, the Design Board reviews every project at all its different stages. Day-to-day management of the practice is provided by the Management Board, which is drawn from the wider group of senior partners and partners. The Partnership Board then oversees the strategic direction of the entire practice.


© Maggioli SpA • THE PLAN • Via del Pratello 8 • 40122 Bologna, Italy • T +39 051 227634 • P. IVA 02066400405 • ISSN 2499-6602 • E-ISSN 2385-2054
ITC Avant Garde Gothic® is a trademark of Monotype ITC Inc. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and which may be registered in certain other jurisdictions.