Loop of Wisdom

An Informal Icon

Living up to the suggestiveness of its name, the Loop of Wisdom embodies a timeless architectural concept. Our design for a technology museum and reception center for a new neighborhood in Chengdu, China, is much more than an exuberant landmark. In addition to its obvious aesthetic appeal and cultural program, the fluid structure incorporates a spectacular public space – an undulating rooftop trail. This addition makes the Loop of Wisdom an accessible icon, rather than a remote beacon. It invites people to explore it and make it part of their regular walking or jogging routine.

Loop of Wisdom was on the World Architecture Festival shortlist in 2021.

Time span2019 - 2020
Size5 000 m²
LocationChengdu, CN
TypePublic Spaces, Recognitions
Partners in charge
Nanne de Ru, Stijn Kemper
Partner in charge
Project lead
Project team
Stavros Voskaris
Filip Galić
Severino Iritano
Davide del Sante
Reto Egli
Penny Uni
Dries Brøns
Caroline Desplan
Eli Keijser
Rafael Zarza Garciá
Yanni Huang
Kimi Fei

In balance with nature

Responding to the landscape

In balance with nature

Our building, the first in this new extension of Chengdu, fits beautifully with the natural context. Working with the landscape rather than simply ignoring it, we created an elegant, organic form. Our gentle design invites people to come and explore it.

By shaping a circular path that follows the topography, we combined two separate programmatic entities in a single structure. As the path rises up to make space for the program, it becomes a roof offering stunning views. The new building becomes a path and architecture at the same time, while allowing nature to continue around, under and within the form of the structure.

Designed as a continuous ring, our loop’s form is archetypal and universal; organic and geometric; enigmatic yet instantly recognizable. While the client initially wanted a temporary building, they were so impressed by the quality of our design that they decided it must become a permanent fixture. A proposed ephemeral structure became a long-lived and inherently sustainable one.

While spectacular museums and reception centers are quite common in China, we wanted to create an icon that people can actually explore and use.

A place for people

In harmony with traditional Chinese crafts
A space to sit, relax and reflect
01 - 02

Looping through the landscape

Site plan

Floor plan




Red runner

Taking the rooftop path

Red runner

Red was chosen for the color for the roof because of the striking contrast it makes with the lush green of the landscape. The path surface is rubber asphalt – the material used for athletics tracks – making it suitable for runners as well as walkers.
The track measures 600m around, rising 25m from its ground level access to offer panoramic views of the surrounding greenery and distant mountains.

The actual roof surface is composed of custom aluminium tiles. Some 15,000 of these, each with its own unique profile and numeric code, form a seamless skin. The LED lights that illuminate the building at night and functional elements including gutters and handrails are all carefully concealed from sight, resulting in the streamlined profile that enhances the loop’s elegant simplicity and flowing lines.

Super smooth

Perfectly aligned curves and contours
Precision detailing and no wrinkles
01 - 02

Clad in 15 218 custom-made red aluminum roof tiles, the seamless surface of our looping roof evokes the skin of a dragon.

Stijn Kemper

The fast track to the future

The glass facade

The fast track to the future

The entire 5,000-m2 Loop of Wisdom building, including the interior design and landscape design, took well under a year to complete from design to construction. The design itself went from sketch to blueprint in a matter of days, thanks to the use of advanced parametric drafting software that was linked to the architects’ BIM model.

Eventually, a new school will be built next to the site, and the building will enter its second phase of a life as a library and sports center, complete with an Olympic-sized running track.

Ups and downs

Rising to accommodate the program
Descending down to the ground access point
01 - 02

With its huge visual appeal, the Loop of Wisdom has become an immediate social media success. Not least because, thanks to its form, it looks different from every angle.

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