Through this design, the whole of society will be called upon to jointly protect the Yangtze River's ecological environment.
– Thomas Wong, design partner at Ennead
International design practice Ennead Architects have won a competition to build a futuristic laboratory and nature reserve on the Yangtze River near Shanghai, China.
The new 427,000 sq ft (39,669 sq m) facility, which will resemble rippling waves and feature indoor and outdoor habitats, will primarily function as a breeding and research centre, housing endangered populations of finless porpoises – the Yangtze's only extant aquatic mammal – and sturgeon, one of the oldest species of fish in the world.
The site will also double as an attraction and host an aquarium in order to stimulate local interest in ecological conservation.
Public-facing areas will comprise walkways, exhibition galleries, and an auditorium.
"The project makes the important work of the institution visible to visitors through an immersive aquarium and exhibit experience, bringing them into direct contact with its activities," said Ennead in a statement from their website.
"Visitors," they added, "will be able to immerse themselves in a completely natural setting away from the dense urban core of Shanghai."
According to the architects, the centre's landscape design – which will be carried out by Andropogon Associates – will reconstruct "the shoreline system and the variety of eco-regions throughout the Yangtze River basin, establishing the critical balance between land and aquatic habitats".
Thomas Wong, design partner at Ennead, commented: "Through this design, the whole of society will be called upon to jointly protect the Yangtze River's ecological environment and provide a sustainable living space for all kinds of organisms, including human beings."
Work on the project is expected to be completed in 2021.