Yangtze River Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Nature Preserve

1818 C02 B Preferred

Yangtze River Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Nature Preserve

Located on an island at the mouth of the Yangtze River and set within a 17.5-hectare landscape, the 427,000 GSF nature reserve building comprises a dual-function aquarium and research facility, bringing together efforts to repopulate the dwindling numbers of Chinese Sturgeon and Finless Porpoise with an engagement of the public to build popular support for ecological conservation.

1818 C01 Preferred

A complex program includes a series of interior and exterior pools for breeding and raising both species mimicking their natural migration into waters of varying size and salinity, as well as facilities dedicated to their research and reintegration to their natural habitat. 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.

1818 Master Plan
1818 C07 Preferred

The proposed design features dramatic forms that rise in undulating, fluid gestures taking cues from the rippling surface of the river and the iconic landscape of the Upper Yangtze while simultaneously evoking biomorphic anatomy and a vessel-like ark. 

Gently curving wooden structural ribs radiate around a central spine that joins the three wings of the building into a singular unified expression. Clad in translucent PTFE, the lightweight enclosure system envelops the interior pools to create a luminous, daylight-maximizing interior. 

1818 C12 Preferred
1818 Section Perspective Final
1818 C05 Preferred

The design seamlessly integrates highly sustainable strategies, combining a cross-laminated timber structural system, geothermal heating and cooling loops, constructed wetlands of local flora and waterborne plants for rapid carbon sequestration and a process of biofiltration for aquarium water, resulting in a new paradigm of environmental equilibrium. 

1818 Sturgeon Sustainability 125
1818 C02 B Preferred

The landscape design reconstructs the shoreline system and the variety of ecoregions throughout the Yangtze River basin, establishing the critical balance between land and aquatic habitats. Suspended walkways and viewing areas circumnavigate the campus and allow visitors to immerse in a completely natural setting away from the dense urban core of Shanghai.


Shanghai, China
427,000 GSF
Research Laboratory, Breeding Facility, Exhibit Halls, Teaching Center, Auditorium, Staff Dormitory


Ennead Design Team
Thomas Wong, Kevin McClurkan, Grace Chen, Wenny Hsu, Dominik Sigg, Alan Cation, Di Chang, Stefani Fachini, Weiwei Kuang, Oliver Li, David Schneider, Ursula Trost, Charles Wong
Landscape Consultant
Andropogon Associates, Ltd.