Today's vigorously developing Southern Taiwan Science Park was long ago inhabited by different prehistoric peoples. The Museum of Prehistory was built to house the rich troves of archeological treasures discovered by chance during the construction of the Science Park; and to preserve these precious artifacts dating as far back as 5,000 years. The architectural concept uses three terms, probing down, regression, and interweaving, to explain the relationship between time and space in this exhibition.
The museum site is adjacent to the Taiwan High Speed Rail route, where a train passes by about an average of once every few minutes. At such times, a train is shoulder-to-shoulder with this site for 3.5 fleeting seconds. Taking advantage of this unique relationship with the high speed rail, visitors are first taken through a square glass access way ascending to the same level as the passing trains, where they can view this ultrafast, high-tech mode of transportation as well as the futuristic facilities of the science park, showing them the modern and the future. From this vantage point, visitors then work their way downward in a counterclockwise direction, embarking on an exploratory journey back through history, as if taking part in an archeological dig, personally experiencing through movement and senses the different civilizations that occupied this spot at different times in the past.
The architecture is composed of three major elements: first is the main building mass, which has a 70m x 70m square plan and 21m in height; second is the steel structured glass tube that has a 8.7m x8.7m cross-section, and is 90m in total length, cutting the main-building from middle, pointing to the high-speed rail direction, representing modern days archeological work supported by the precise technology; the third element are the 3.3m x 3.3m circulation tubes linking the cut open museum mass at each floors.
The building geometry follows two sets of axes. One points due north, cohering to the direction of ancient burials, is the order of the past. The other axis, rotating 19° from the main axis, follows the present-day city grid, is the order we have now on hand. These two systems of orders dominate the building geometry from the building plan all the way down to exhibition of artifacts, symbolizing the essence of archeology work: a process of using the order at hand to speculate and discover about an unknown order of the past, and assigning intrigue and meaning to things from elsewhere in time and space.