Comics and animations have long been considered a form of entertainment for the younger generations, but they continue to develop into a sophisticated art form. The initiative for a museum — especially for this relatively recent art form — creates a platform that will unite the worlds of art and entertainment. By using one of the cartoon’s prime characteristics — the speech balloon — the building will instantly be recognized as a place for cartoons, comics and animations. The neutral speech balloon becomes 3D.
The 30.000m2 are distributed over eight volumes that are interconnected, allowing for a circular tour of the entire program. Services, such as the lobby, education, three theaters/cinemas (with in total 1,111 seats), and a comic book library, each occupy their own balloon. If two balloons touch in the interior, a large opening allows access and views in-between the volumes.
The balloon shape allows for versatile exhibitions; the permanent collection is presented in a chronological spiral, whereas the temporary exhibition hall offers total flexibility. Amsterdam-based exhibition architects Kossman.deJong tested the spaces and designed exhibition configurations that appeal to different age groups and allow large crowds to visit the exhibition.
One of the balloons is devoted to an interactive experience in which visitors can actively experiment with all sorts of animation techniques, including blue screen, stop motion, drawing, creating emotions, etc. The core attraction of this space is a gigantic 3D zoetrope. The routing of the museum permits short or long visits, visits to the cinema, the temporary exhibition, or the roof terrace restaurant. The façade of the museum is
covered in a cartoon relief referring to a Chinese vase. The monochrome, white concrete façade allows the speech balloons to function: Texts can be projected onto the façade. The relief was designed in collaboration with Amsterdam-based graphic designers JongeMeesters.
Most of the 13.7 ha site is occupied by a new park on a series of islands in White Horse Lake. Reed beds are used to improve the water quality. Boat rides offer an added attraction. A separate expo building of 25.000m2 will house large fairs and the annual China International Comic and Animation Festival (CICAF). In-between the expo and CCAM, a public plaza will be the center of this festival, which is the county’s largest cartoon and animation event and has been held annually in Hangzhou since 2005.
Hangzhou is a metropolis with 6.4 million inhabitants 180 km southwest of Shanghai. The Museum will become a new focal point on the less-populated southern side of Qiantang river. The CCAM will consolidate the city’s leading position as China’s capital of the animation industry. The new Museum will be the icon of a larger development, the Comic and Animation Center. It comprises a series of hill-shaped buildings containing offices, a hotel and a conference center, of which the first phase is close to completion.
The museum will contain a multitude of interventions, such as ground storage, natural ventilation and adiabatic cooling, all focused toward an excellent energy-efficiency rating. The structural concept by Arup enhances the sustainable profile of the building: the aerodynamic design results in even wind pressure and a decreased need for air conditioning. The box-in-box construction of the bubbles permits different conditions inside the building and improves the energy efficiency.