Construction has started on the Datong Art Museum in China, designed by UK-based architectural firm Foster + Partners.
The 32,000m² museum will feature a 37m-high grand gallery exhibition space, spanning 80m, which will be used to display large-scale artwork.
Foster + Partners senior partner Luke Fox said: "When complete, Datong's new quarter will be the centre of the city's cultural life, with the new museum as its urban room - a dynamic space, open to everyone to meet and enjoy its different displays and activities."
From the outside, the structure has been designed to resemble an erupted landscape and will look like the building has caved into the ground with only the peaks of the roof visible at ground level, said Foster + Partners.
The roof will be covered in earth-toned corten steel and will feature four interconnected pyramids that fan out towards the four corners of the cultural plaza.
A clerestory between each volume will create a play of light and shade to illuminate the structure from within, during the night.
The approach of the building has a gentle ramp and stairs, which will be integrated with the plaza to create an informal amphitheatre for visitors.The interior has been designed in a flexible way so that it can be used for a changing programme of displays.
The grand gallery will be arranged over a single level that can be subdivided to create individual exhibition spaces and can be accessed directly by a 40ft container vehicle.
The museum will also house a children's gallery, group entrance lobby, cafe, restaurant and support spaces, arranged around sunken courtyards to draw in daylight.
Elevated skylights in the structure will help the north and north-west oriented building to minimise solar gain inside the building and ensure a good environment for the works of art.
The roof of the building will account for 70% of the exposed surface and will be insulated to double the building code requirements, while only 10% of the building's surface area will be made of glazing material, resulting in minimum maintenance.
The museum is scheduled to open in 2013.
Caption: The 32,000m² Datong Art Museum has been designed to look like an erupted landscape, the building seeming to sink into the ground. Image: courtesy of Foster + Partners.