Built in 1996, Zhou Yao Insect Museum in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province is named after the revered father of Chinese entomology. It is the largest entomological museum in Asia that is dedicated to a person. After decades of use, it has now been relocated to Yinzhou Park (known as Ningbo’s “green lung”) and expanded its area from 500 square meters to more than 3,000 square meters.

▼博物馆东南侧入口,Southeast entrance © 存在建筑


The museum is both a thematic museum and a memorial to Professor Zhou Yao. The original venue was facing challenges in regard to presenting exhibitions, including outdated facilities, insufficient exhibition space, and rigid exhibition methods. The new design has tackled these challenges and presented the city with a venue that satisfies contemporary exhibition requirements. With its participatory, interactive and open atmosphere, it also acts as a public platform that accommodates exhibition, education, social interaction and experience of nature. Standing comfortably in its surroundings, the design has created a welcoming public space for the city.

▼远观昆虫博物馆,Insect Museum from afar ©上海秉仁建筑师事务所

▼昆虫博物馆北侧的蜜源植物区,The nectar plant area on the north side of the Insect Museum ©上海秉仁建筑师事务所


Concept: Butterflies, the inspiration and the embodiment


The original concept of the design revolves around “butterflies”. Inspired by the abstracted butterfly form shown in the collection, the project adopts the “butterfly triangle” as the prototype, and uses the chamfered triangle, a metaphor for butterfly wings, as the design motif in the architectural form and layout. In the meantime, the ultra-light and delicate features of the insect’s wings are well embodied in the parametric gradient glazing of the building’s skin. Together they create a distinctive form that is not only mimetic, but also more in line with the theme of the museum.

▼轴测图,Axonometric view

▼设计理念,Design concept

▼形态生成,Form generation


Layout: Top-to-bottom connection and inside-outside fusion


The spatial organization of the building is defined by the physical conditions of the site. Through the integrated design of the indoor exhibition space and the outdoor public space, the layout of the entire site was decided, with an emphasis on the interaction with nature. At the plan level, various functions are arranged into “butterfly triangles” of varied sizes. Exhibition and related functions are placed in the north side, while scientific research and auxiliary functions are placed in the south; the two sides are interrelated yet independent.

▼半室外观演区,The outdoor recreation area ©上海秉仁建筑师事务所

▼公园看向博物馆,Looking from the park to the museum ©存在建筑

▼半室外观演区,The outdoor recreation area ©存在建筑

▼环境与建筑的互动,Interaction between environment and architecture ©存在建筑


▼流线分析,Circulation analysis

▼蝴蝶谷天窗,‘Butterfly Valley’ skylight ©存在建筑

The exhibition section starts from the multimedia area where Professor Zhou’s scientific exploration is illustrated. From here, visitors can get to the screening room on the second floor through the stairs in the full-height foyer, and reach the main exhibition area. Crossing the top-to-bottom “butterfly valley”, people can then return to the first floor and arrive at the outdoor recreation area and the nectar plants area facing the river. This recreation area, located at the north side of the building, was created by harnessing the 1m difference in elevation between the road and the park to naturally form a series of steps. It encourages various interactions with the space and helps generate a fused indoor-outdoor experience.

▼上下贯通的蝴蝶谷, ‘Butterfly Valley’  © 徐丹

▼入口大堂,Entrance Lobby © 徐丹

▼蝴蝶谷, ‘Butterfly Valley’ © 徐丹


Facade: Ultimate lightness and uttermost details


The land restraint, the maximized use of space on the first floor and the facade design altogether create a dynamic overall image for the building. The design takes advantage of the difference in height to create a 3D butterfly triangle; two full-height traffic spaces — the foyer and the “butterfly valley” — are created at the sides of the building. They not only enrich the indoor visiting route, but also give a dynamic beauty to the building from all angles. The facade facing the city road is light, elegant and dynamic, projecting a distinct urban image; while on the side facing the waterfront, the facade appears to be dancing, the space is integrated into the park grounds and becomes the stage of the park.

▼匀质、柔和而多变的立面渐变层次,Homogeneous, soft and dynamic facade © 存在建筑

▼日丽西路沿街南立面,South elevation along Rili West Road © 存在建筑

▼暮色下的蝴蝶谷,The Butterfly Valley under the twilight © 存在建筑


The white glazed glass on the facade creates a soft, almost disappearing effect, forming a sequence of rhythm. In combination with the gradual gradient change of skin units, it weaves a facade that is as light as wings. Through sophisticated parametric design control, the curtain wall components and divisions between the curtain panels are successfully hidden in the glazed patterns.

▼幕墙上的菱形图案远看呈现出鳞片的质感, The diamond patterns on the curtain wall are an Imitation of butterfly wing scales © 张全

▼平面、单曲与多曲玻璃的结合,Combination of flat, single and multi-curved glass © 张全

▼幕墙夹具的形状结合菱形图案,融入幕墙,并与胶缝颜色适配, The shape of the fixture is adjusted in alignment with the diamond patterns and matching the color of the glue seam © 张全


In order to demonstrate the shift in perception at different distances, the glazed patterns on the facade are carefully studied at four different levels: city level, landscape level, human level, and close-up level. At city and landscape levels, through vertical division and control of the gradient patterns, a homogeneous, soft and dynamic facade is created, which gives off a rhythmic, light and floating curtain wall effect. At human and close-up levels, the glazed patterns within the range of human vision are further refined to create a richly gradient effect with uttermost details.

▼近人尺度下的彩釉图案细节,Glazed patterns at human level © 上海秉仁建筑师事务所

▼观察尺度下的彩釉图案细节,Glazed patterns at close-up level © 上海秉仁建筑师事务所

▼幕墙图案分析 & 彩釉图案细节,Curtain wall pattern analysis & Glazed patterns 右:© 上海秉仁建筑师事务所

▼总平面图,Site plan

▼一层平面图,1F plan

▼二层平面图,2F plan



项目设计 & 完成年份:2017-2022年
建筑设计总负责人: 马庆禕
项目主创建筑师: 徐震鹏
建筑面积:2986 平方米

Project name: Zhou Yao Insect Museum, Ningbo
Design: DDB Architects Shanghai+Sitarch Lab Shanghai
Website: www.ddb.net.cnwww.sitarch.com
Contact e-mail:ddbpublic@ddb.net.cncontact@sitarch.com
Design year & Completion Year: 2017-2022
Project director: Qingyi Ma
Project Leader designer: Zhenpeng Xu
Team: Ying Zhao, Zixuan Huang, Wenyu Guo, Yaying Zhou, Sheng Jiang, Caixuan Lin, Rongyao Xu
Project location: Yinzhou Park, Yinzhou District, Ningbo, Zhejiang
Gross Built Area (square meters): 2986㎡
Photo credits (needs to credit each): Arch-Exist, Quan Zhang, DDB Architects Shanghai
Engineering: Ningbo Urban Construction Design & Research Institute Co.,Ltd.
Curtain Wall Design: The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University Co.,Ltd.
Interior Design: Shanghai Fengyuzhu Culture Technology Co.,Ltd.
Clients: Ningbo Yincheng Group Co., Ltd.
Material: White Glazed Glass