Open Architecture transforms airport facilities into Tank Art Park in Shanghai

Tank museum by open architecture
The site includes five abandoned aviation fuel tanks and other facilities that once belonged to the old Longhua Airport.
(Image credit: Wu Qingshan)

The point where old and new meet is often the space where some of the most interesting architectural experiments take place; and Shanghai's brand new Tank Art Park is a case in point. The city's latest cultural space is the brainchild of Beijing based studio Open Architecture and opened its doors to the public this weekend. 

Occupying five abandoned aviation fuel tanks and further facilities that once belonged to Longhua Airport, the site is an expansive 47,448 sq m situated on the West Bund district, by the river. The tanks and their surroundings have now been transformed into an integrated cultural space that brings together art, leisure and nature – something of a specialty for Open Architecture. The studio is experienced in innovative art spaces that offer eye-catching design but also blend with their context – their latest works include projects, such as the UCCA Dune Art Museum.

The Huangpu River

The new space is located on the banks of the Huangpu River in the city’s West Bund district.

(Image credit: Wu Qingshan)

The five tanks serve a large variety of uses; there's dedicated space for live music performances in one, another hosts a restaurant, while the last three are designed to contain exhibition spaces. A large open air park unites everything, creating valuable green space for the city on the banks of the Huangpu River as well as connections between the different areas. Further flexible indoor exhibition and service spaces can be found below ground level, subtly interconnecting the tanks.

The architects were keen to maintain the site's distinctive character, so, many of the original industrial features were preserved. ‘[The project transforms] containers of fuel into containers of culture, while paying tribute to the site’s industrial past', they say. 

Tank museum by open architecture interior

One tank hosts a restaurant, and the last three house art and cultural exhibition spaces.

(Image credit: Wu Qingshan)

The project combines contemporary art

The project combines contemporary art with nature and urban life.

(Image credit: Wu Qingshan)


For more information visit the website of Open Architecture

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).