JINGDEZHEN IMPERIAL KILN MUSEUM | Studio Zhu-Pei
Jingdezhen Shi, China
Photo credit: schranimage
Project Name: Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum
Location: Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China
Completion Date: 2020
Architecture, Interior and Landscape Design: Studio Zhu-Pei
Cooperative Design: Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University
Design in Charge: Zhu Pei
Front Criticism: Zhou Rong
Art Consultant: Wang Mingxian, Li Xiangning
Design Team: You Changchen, Han Mo, He Fan, Shuhei Nakamura, Liu Ling, Wu Zhigang, Zhang Shun, Du Yang, Yang Shengchen, Chen Yida, He Chenglong, Ding Xinyue
Consultants: Structural, MEP and Green Building: Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University
Facade: Shenzhen Dadi Facade Technology CO., LTD.
Lighting: Ning Field Lighting Design CO., LTD.
Acoustic: Building Science & Technology Institute, Zhejiang University
Client: Jingdezhen Municipal Bureau of Culture Radio Television Press Publication and Tourism, Jingdezhen Ceramic Culture Tourism Group
Main Contractor: China Construction First Group Corporation Limited, Huajiang Construction CO., LTD of China Construction First Group
Photography by schranimage, Tian Fangfang, Zhang Qinquan, courtesy of Studio Zhu-Pei
Located in the center of the historical area, the site of the Museum is adjacent to the Imperial Kiln ruins surrounding many ancient kiln complexes.
Jingdezhen is known as the "Porcelain Capital" in the world because it has been producing pottery for 1,700 years. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, Jingdezhen exported a huge amount of porcelains to Europe.
Jingdezhen was growing naturally fitting in the valleys surrounding rivers, hills, and mountains because of the porcelain industry. The early settlements of the city developed around kiln complexes which included kiln, workshops, and housing. The street pattern was generated by nature and the porcelain industry. Most of the small alleys in between kiln complexes have always approached the Chang river in order to transport porcelain products to the river. The main streets have always been along with Chang river to bring all businesses and commerces together.
Situated on a fairly restricted historical area adjacent to the east side of the Imperial Kiln ruins, the plan of the Imperial Kiln Museum was aligned with the north-south street grid of Jingdezhen. With its entry, water pools, and bridge facing west, embracing the open file of Imperial Kiln Ruins to welcome visitors from Imperial Kiln Relic Park. Public pedestrians can wander through the forest under the green canopy, going through the bridge, flowing into the foyer of the museum.
The Imperial Kiln Museum comprises more than half a dozen brick vaults base on the traditional form of the kiln, each of the vaults is of a different size, curvature, and length. They were naturally applied to the site, carefully integrated with many existing ruins including a few ruins that were found after the construction.
The unparalleled, liner, and arched structures of the museum, like old kilns, reach below the level of the street to not only give the flexibility to adapt itself into the complicated site, but also to achieve the intimate scale of interior space. This strategy - in part also as a response to the height of surrounding historical buildings - leads to productive ambiguity in relation to the building’s horizontal datum. The “insertion” of the building into the ground of the site produces a series of public spaces at street level. More importantly, it allows for the design of a number of more intimate open vaults, and courtyards within the museum. Most of those public spaces are covered under shaded and are protected from the rain because it is hot and it rains a lot during summer in Jingdezhen. One of those open spaces, two open vaults sited in both ends, will also reveal the traces of the historic fabric on the site.
When one walks on the bridge, enters the foyer, and turns left, he will pass a series of arched exhibition spaces lightly varied in size and with contradicting openness (enclosed or open to the sky) to encounter a gentle stair, in the end, flowing down to the underground level with five sunken courtyards. Meanwhile, people can obtain a three-in-one (kilns-porcelains-people) museum experience when they see those porcelain, ruins, and sunken courtyards which create manifold layers' experiences with ancient bricks on the façade. As someone turns right at the foyer, he will respectively pass the bookstore, cafe, tea room, and finally reach a semi-outdoor area under the arch, witnessing a picturesque scene. When daytime surfaces, these arches reflect the waves of water while low horizontal gaps tempt people to sit down on the floor to see the long horizon of the Imperial kiln ruins. A similar surprise would be created when someone sees the Longzhu Pavilion of the Imperial kiln ruins through the vertical seams when he is on the way to the auditorium before accessing the foyer.
Five sunken courtyards varied in size have a different theme: gold, wood, water, fire, soil. Those five themes not only reflect old Chinese thinking about the earth but also associate with porcelain making techniques.
The overall experience of the museum tries to rediscover the roots of Jingdezhen, to recreate the past experience among kiln, porcelain, and human being.