The Museum, a porcelain museum focusing on Imperial Kiln artifacts, is located in the center of the historical area in Jingdezhen, adjacent to the Imperial Kiln Ruins of Ming Dynasty. It is surrounded by various historical buildings, including old houses, traditional kilns, factories, and residential buildings of the late 1990s. Those buildings have shaped a rich and diverse urban fabric and formed a unique site with enriching historical contexts.
The concepts of the museum focus on rediscovering the roots of Jingdezhen and the innovation ideas that defines the revolutionary thinking of the museum experience. Main programs include: permanent exhibition, exchange exhibition, auditorium, amphitheater, Ming Dynasty ruins, multi-function hall, bookstore/cafe, tea room, restoration room, courtyard, administrative office, and loading dock.
As essential structure for the city’s industrial production and as a central place for both public life and cultural memory, the brick kiln has entered the entire city history as architectural form. The prototype of the Museum is translated from traditional brick kiln, it comprises eight brick vaults based on the traditional forms of kiln. Each of the brick vaults is of a different size, length and curvature, calling to mind the special and material quality of the kilns. The ground level and lower level connect all vaults and courtyards together with a strong local cultural grounding.
2. A porous installation of wind
Jingdezhen is hot in summer, people have to survive under shade with ventilation, and this is the reason why narrow alley with roof overhand and small vertical courtyard house both create shade and wind tunnels to let people feel comfortable. The long axis of eight brick vaults is arranged along the north-south direction with tow ends open. The arrangement of the open vault and enclosed ones, can not only block the sunlight on the west side, but also transform each vault into a wind tunnel, allowing the cool breeze to flow in and to capture the most frequent south-north wind in summer. The five sunken courtyards of different scales create the chimney effect as in the local vertical courtyards. A three-dimensional wind installation is thus created by both the tunnels where wind blows horizontally and the chimney effect that functions vertically.
3. An installation of natural light
Constructing an interior space that is full of natural light is the primary consideration. Firstly, the alternative arrangement of open vaults and enclosed vaults creates a rhythmic sensation of light and shade while walking through the museum. Secondly, the five sunken courtyards channel light down to the floor, completely subvert people’s feelings of the underground space. Moreover, the interior natural light is achieved through the opening of both the end of the vaults, the horizontal slits alongside the floor, the slits between adjacent two vaults and the cylindrical skylights. With all these special ‘windows’ and the porosity of the building, light diffuses into the interior space through different dimensions and ways. Natural light is a medium that weaves people, exhibits, and architecture together.
Structure and Materials
The basic structure of the museum is arched structure system consisting of two layers of masonry brick walls with poured concrete between them. Using recycled kiln bricks to build house is a significant character in Jingdezhen because kilns have to be demolished every two or three years to maintain a certain thermal performance. The recycled old kiln bricks are mixed with new bricks to reflect the local culture of construction. This interweaving of nature, ruins, wind, light, sound, and new and old materials must arouse interest, curiosity, create new questions and give new answers by interacting with people’s minds, inevitably evoke people’s memories and enjoy unique experience. The past cannot be erased but rewritten by recounting with a new awareness and maturity, a sort of contemporary archeology.
Founded in 2005 in Beijing, Studio Zhu-Pei is one of the leading Chinese architecture firms focusing on art and cultural projects. The studio is recognized for its experience of ability to blend forms, space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. The studio specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular natural, cultural and historic importance. An array of experimental and innovative works have been created based on the design philosophy of Nature Architecture, including Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum, Shou County Culture and Art Center, Yangliping Performing Arts Center, Zibo Art Center, 798 CUBE Art Museum, etc. The founder, Zhu Pei, is the Dean and professor of School of Architecture, the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He has been elected as an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He is a RIBA Chartered Architect.