Energy-Saving Design, Based on a Climate Adaptation Strategy, of the Dinosaur Egg Ruins Protecting Museum in Hubei

Part of the Strategies for Sustainability book series (STSU)


With rapid urbanization, there are more and more construction projects of public facilities in China. The concept of green building has been introduced into the design process for museum buildings, which is one type of public facility pursuing energy savings. At present, artificial ventilation and heat preservation devices are utilized in museum buildings to maintain a stable temperature and humidity range for indoor exhibits. After equipment installation, energy consumption becomes a big cost of operating museum buildings. With the concept of green building, this work explores passive energy-saving strategies from a practical view of museum design. Lighting and heat preservation are pertinently considered under some special condition requirements, including processing of sloping field topography, adjustment of lighting and room temperature, combination with local materials and local culture, etc. As an example, the authors present a case study of implementation of the green building concept for energy saving in China.


Energy-saving Passive strategy Site protection Climate adaptation Ventilation-friendly and light-resistant Double-layered roof 

13.1 Introduction and Background

Energy saving is the most important characteristic of the green building concept. As the construction industry is one of the largest energy-consuming industries, China’s construction industry still has a great need for energy-saving solutions (Qian and Yin 2009). For energy-saving building design, there are a lot of methodologies and solutions discussed in the world literature. For example, insulation system structures in external walls and inorganic thermal insulation materials for walls, doors and windows, roofs, and other building parts (Zhong 2015) can be used to improve the energy saving of the envelope and building structure (Bao 2013), etc. It is worth noting that combined lighting and ventilation devices (Deszberg 1983) are becoming one of the most effective methodologies for improving energy saving in building structures.

Generally, sites with conditions of a dry field, smooth drainage, and good ventilation will be chosen for locations of public buildings, which also require adjustment measures corresponding to local conditions in comprehensive planning. There is an increasing interest in ecological design of buildings in warm regions, where natural ventilation has been proved to be the most efficient low-energy cooling technique (Ghiaus et al. 2005).

As the background to this project, geological experts undertook excavations and found cretaceous dinosaur egg fossils at Qinglong Mountain in the Yun County of Hubei Province. Therefore, a museum building was planned as a science education base to explore dinosaur reproduction and extinction, and the local government built a greenhouse with sunlight glass to protect the dinosaur egg fossils. However, greenhouse effects caused severe damage to the eggs, and the colored light of the sunlight glass was not helpful to display real dinosaur egg fossils.

Regarding architectural models of theme museums, firstly it is possible to use pictographic language, such as images of dinosaurs or eggs. This form of imitation is too figurative, lacking imagination and creativity. Secondly, they can follow the archaeological protection and excavation process—for example, starting with a temporary protection canopy in the excavation area when digging starts. Lighting can then be set up after completing the dig. Because this meets both requirements of showing the excavation and protection, we choose the second model.

The discovered dinosaur egg fossil field (Fig. 13.1) is situated on a mountain slope, where site protection is necessary for museum building construction. Usually, there are enclosed spaces in a museum building, therefore it is a challenge to deal with heat prevention during summer. The climate of Hubei Province is very hot in summer and cold in winter. In addition, the temperature changes over the course of a day are very large because the site is located on a mountain slope. The specified range of the museum construction site on Qinglong Mountain is more than 1000 m2, and it would be improper to move the dinosaur egg fossils, according to the geologists’ consideration, from the viewpoint of heritage protection. Therefore, there is a conflict between the extreme climate at the local site and the need to maintain a constant temperature. We attempted to find solutions to this issue using green concepts in order to solve the problem of indoor overheating in summer and the need to protect the egg fossils from direct light.
Fig. 13.1

Dinosaur egg fossil excavation site

The authors expand on the architectural model of this geological museum, combined with meteorological data, from the whole building form to its detailed structure, as a case study of application of green concepts to the Qinglong Mountain Dinosaur Egg Fossil Ruins Protecting Museum. This is followed by an empirical discussion using actual measurement data, with conclusions and suggestions for further work.

13.2 Literature Review

In this design work, the authors recreated the original distribution of the dinosaur egg fossils, respecting historical and cultural relics in the museum building, in which the exhibition floor plan was designed for a one-way tour to present views of the dinosaur egg fossils and provide a spatial–temporal correspondence with the excavation area. In the design process for this museum, light, ventilation, and heat insulation were considered as important factors in low energy consumption for energy saving.

13.2.1 Blocking Light

Natural light is one of the important factors in constructing space (Huang 2007), which can provide a variety of spatial experiences for museum visitors (Jang and Park 2016). How to meet the needs of basic lighting in a room, while avoiding heat radiation caused by a large amount of light entering the room, is a challenge for us. Light has been considered as one of the most important elements in architectural design. Light provides a lot of architectural experiences for visitors to buildings by interrelating the space, shape, and other design elements. In particular, natural light is a valuable source to create better indoor space, in comparison with artificial light. It is a sustainable energy source and offers a more natural environment. It also enables visitors to perceive the form and depth of the space (Kim 2014).

The lighting elements of skylights and high side windows are given priority in this design as one element of the architectural form, and we use light-taking windows in parts of the exhibition space in this museum. Bright light is used to highlight exhibits in key positions in an exhibition area. Other spaces are dark, and the use of brightness and darkness clearly defines the boundary between the exhibition area and other areas in the museum. The visitors’ impressions of the details depend on the setting of the light source and the walking path (Lan and Fei Hu 2009).

13.2.2 Ventilation

Green buildings should be designed with controllable natural ventilation. Effective natural ventilation is necessary. It has positive significance for temperature control, discharge of air pollution, and air flow (Fordham 2000). Reasonable utilization of natural ventilation has important significance in improving indoor air quality (IAQ) and saving building energy (Guangcai 2003). Natural ventilation efficiency can be affected by facades, the roof, the outline of the building, and the layout and organization of the interior spaces (Kleiven 2003).

13.2.3 Heat Insulation

There are many ways of incorporating heat insulation into a building. Heat insulation materials for roofs, walls, doors, and windows are a popular research field. Especially appropriate skin materials should be selected for compatibility with the climatic environment where a building is located (Hou et al. 2012).

With regard to the main envelope of the building, the roof is one of the most important parts to be considered in an energy efficiency project. Roof insulation panels with composite materials can be included in the roof structure, whose insulation properties, mechanical properties, and durability can thereby be raised (Ming-Hai et al. 2008). There is a contradiction between hot sunshine and energy conservation in roof design, which can be solved by a double-skin system. That has great energy-saving potential. At the same time, it is possible for designers to create alternatives of interesting facade designs, which are recognized as one of the methods for ecological construction (Baofeng Li 2001). Furthermore, heat-insulating solar glass (HISG) is a recently developed smart building material used to minimize energy consumption in the building sector (Cuce and Riffat 2016). Use of energy-saving doors and windows is important for energy saving in buildings. There are many types of energy-saving door and window products available to choose from (Chai and Zhang 2009).

Low-energy-consumption building technology has attracted more and more attention from government and society, and its influence on the property market in China has been discussed previously (Cheng 2006). Passive building design technology is discussed in this chapter for considering suitability for regional climate, with ultra-low power consumption for energy saving, which is recognized as a fundamental way to realize sustainable development of human settlements (Liu et al. 2015).

13.3 Methods

13.3.1 Study Area

Energy-saving buildings are usually dependent on temperature control and lighting control. In order to keep indoor temperatures and lighting control within a reasonable range, we can also use the method of changing some of the building layout or structure to achieve the same effect. The architectural model, building materials, natural lighting, ventilation, heat resistance, and so on, can influence the whole building’s energy consumption. These were all factors needed for the study of this museum in the design process. What we suggested for this museum design were two passive strategies for achieving this purpose: (1) we could incorporate energy-saving ideas into the structural design itself instead of relying on air conditioning equipment; and (2) we could choose to use some energy-saving materials to adjust the indoor thermal environment and lighting environment.

13.3.2 Design Targets

  1. 1.

    To integrate buildings into the natural environment without damaging the surrounding natural environment, by reducing the quantity of earthworks

  2. 2.

    To create a dark display environment with moderate skylighting to highlight exhibits

  3. 3.

    To recycle old materials at low cost and with low technology for adaptation to regional climate and energy saving


13.3.3 Design Studies Approach

The design studies approaches in this work were divided into two parts: one was how to complete the design based on thermal insulation roofing and ventilation windows for energy saving, and the other was experimenting via field measurements.

Based on design theory such as phenomenology (Moran 2000), the authors studied the surviving arrangement of the dinosaur egg fossils to determine the exhibition path. Thereby the layout of lighting shafts and devices that were light resistant but allowed natural ventilation were determined for optimizing the exhibition and energy-saving efficiency.

Based on the principle of diffuse light propagation and airflow, relative analysis of the museum building system was conducted in order to choose the most suitable building structures, and a field experiment was carried out to choose the precise locations for the building elements.

In this museum design, all building elements, such as the size and orientation of the building, the relative positions of doors and windows, ventilation, and lighting system were studied. Due to the complicated terrain shape, the most difficult problems were how to locate a large building 70 m long on a construction site with a 15 m difference in elevation, how to achieve the goal of allowing ventilation but with light resistance, how to ensure energy saving under the premise of good display effects, and what kind of low-technology strategy would be feasible and effective for this project.

In order to solve those problems, the following strategies were chosen for the design principles of this museum building:
  1. 1.
    To divide a large construction of a 70-meter-long building into several small blocks following the terrain shape naturally, minimizing the required quantity of earthworks (Fig. 13.2)
    Fig. 13.2

    Building blocks

  2. 2.

    To create a light-resistant structure that would allow natural ventilation, using passive methods to maintain a steady and relatively comfortable indoor temperature

  3. 3.

    To learn from the local traditional double-roof strategy, recycling old tiles for use on the second roof to reduce the massive entry of solar radiation and thereby reduce the indoor temperature

  4. 4.

    To use bamboo springboards for the concrete wall template, adjusting the temperature and creating a rich skin texture

  5. 5.

    To use a limited skylight focus on exhibits and use only a small number of LED lights to provide weak illumination of footpaths, which would not only guarantee the best presentation but would also save energy


13.4 Result and Analysis

13.4.1 Integral Configuration

As is customary in the archaeological protection and excavation process, the scale of the construction site needed to be roughly investigated for construction of the museum, followed by implementation of excavation of the egg fossils in the museum. Finally, lighting could be set up after completion of the excavation process. However, there was no instrument that could accurately detect egg fossils under the surface of the construction site, thus it was too difficult to clarify the form of the museum based on the distribution of the egg fossils. Our approach was to conduct detailed mapping of the distribution of excavated egg fossils after the geologists had excavated under the shelter. On that basis, we set up wooden plank paths among the egg fossils and also provided observation platforms for large groups of visitors. Accordingly, the outline of the museum envelope was based on the layout of the egg fossils, plank paths, and platforms, with slight adjustments according to aesthetic sense.

As to the site planning, it was decided that the basic shape of the museum would follow that laid out by the dinosaurs 70 million years ago; for this the geologists had been excavating for one year with our design team. This design approach was inspired by the gradient-varying form, which adapted the irregular changes in the topography, breaking up the building into several blocks connected to each other with irregular concave side windows (Fig. 13.3).
Fig. 13.3

Irregular concave side windows

13.4.2 Energy-Saving Structure Analysis “Ventilation-Friendly and Light-Resistant” Device

The first energy-saving structure came from the principle of natural ventilation (Brager 2000). The museum project discussed in this chapter is located in the mountains of western Hubei, and the weather in this region is cold and damp in winter, while in summer the day-and-night temperature range is very large. We studied a scenario adopting passive methods used in traditional local dwellings, for which we designed a “ventilation-friendly and light-resistant” device (Fig. 13.4). In this scenario, there are adjustable side windows inside and double-deck louvers outside, and the leaves of the louver are set up at 90° to each other. Such a structure ensures ventilation while blocking direct sunshine. The natural wind helps with indoor cooling on summer nights. We installed this device into the irregular concave areas on the exterior wall. After the building construction was finished, we measured the actual temperature in the museum for some days in summer 2016, and the results are shown in Fig. 13.5.
Fig. 13.4

Ventilation-friendly and light-resistant structure

Fig. 13.5

Indoor and outdoor temperature variations between day and night during summer Skylight Cylinder Device

The second creative structure we used was skylight cylinders (Fig. 13.6), which were designed like chimneys in form so that the skylights could be shut with glass. In the darkness indoors, those devices can provide basic lighting for each set of dinosaur egg fossils. The size of each cylinder is proportional to the size of the corresponding egg fossil, highlighting the displays. This kind of design both highlights the exhibits and saves energy. We beveled the top of the cylinder to let the glass face north, avoiding the direct sunlight coming in. This kind of structure can significantly reduce heat radiation from the outside.
Fig. 13.6

Skylight cylinder Double-Layered Roofing Strategy

Owing to historical conditions, most local residential buildings use a double-layered roof structure (Pröckl 1995) (Fig. 13.7).
Fig. 13.7

Double-layer roof structure

The double-layered roof structure with moving air between the two layers has excellent effects in summer for reducing the heat indoors. This traditional architectural strategy is still enlightening for architectural design of the present day.

We found that the site was surrounded by some old adobe houses (Fig. 13.8). These buildings, with their poor durability, were on the verge of collapse. For safety reasons, the residents had all moved out and the buildings had been abandoned.
Fig. 13.8

Local residential buildings

We collected the old tiles from the abandoned local buildings, and we used them on the second roof of the museum. There is a 20 cm air layer between the old tiles and the real roof of the museum, and the flow of air within the layer helps to reduce heat transfer. The old tiles also continue the local cultural context and increase the historical sense of the new building, as shown in Fig. 13.9.
Fig. 13.9

New building with an old roof

For the purpose of cost control, we use locally grown bamboo as a facade template for cast-in-place concrete. As a crude-surface building, it has a high error tolerance, so the construction of this rough surface was not very difficult. This concept should be suitable for a building in the mountains. Bamboo is reproducible and easily degradable, thus the use of bamboo increased the building’s ecological benefits. Moreover, the crude skin formed by the bamboo provided a sense of vicissitude to the building (Fig. 13.10), which is consistent with the characteristic of the ruins museum.
Fig. 13.10

Bamboo template wall

13.4.3 Interior Display Effect Analysis

For creating a good interior atmosphere, the most reliable and elegant way is to create a dark environment with a focused skylight, which is useful for displaying the exhibits and also can help to reduce energy consumption. We used light cylinders for displaying the dinosaur egg fossils. With only a small amount of LED lighting to provide weak illumination for footpaths, the weak LED lights can guide tourists through the walking areas in the dark indoor environment. When tourists enter the exhibition space, their gaze is caught first by dinosaur egg fossils illuminated by a shining tube, and each group of dinosaur egg fossils gradually appears clearly as the visitors move forward through the space, as shown in Figs. 13.11 and 13.12. The primary structural decomposition is shown in Fig. 13.13.
Fig. 13.11

Interior display effect

Fig. 13.12

Illumination schematic diagram

Fig. 13.13

Structural decomposition

13.5 Conclusion and Discussion

As green building becomes increasingly popular in the future, energy saving will be more important in architecture design study. This chapter focuses on an energy-saving strategy for the design of a dinosaur egg fossil museum in Hubei, China. The form of the museum building is derived from the locations of the dinosaur egg fossils, plank paths, and observation platforms. The broken form of the museum building is also designed based on the ground surface for adaptation to its natural environment.

In the design process, lighting cylinders, a double-layered roof that is ventilation-friendly, and light-resistant structures are integrated for display of exhibits, indoor comfort, and energy saving. In short, the design approach is to consider how to display exhibition areas of dinosaur egg fossils in a museum building from the perspectives of ecology, place, and cultural context. As result, energy savings based on the climate adaptation strategy that we adopted for the design have been achieved in the Dinosaur Egg Fossil Ruins Protection Museum. The concept of green building design depends on many other factors, such as outdoor temperature variations and wind direction, rainwater collection, sponge city, combined active and passive strategies, etc. We can improve and refine this research in further studies.



Design of the Dinosaur Egg Ruins Protection Museum started in 2010. Construction was started in 2011, and it was completed in 2012 and opened to the public in 2013. Dezeen, the famous architecture and design magazine, appraised and awarded this design as one of the “2016 Top Ten Global Outstanding Public Buildings.” It is the only Chinese building to have received this honor. Thanks to the team members for their contribution to this project. They are master candidates Zeng Zhongzhong, Guo Fan, and Qu Tianming.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Architecture and Urban PlanningHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina

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