Designing harmony | The Plan
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Designing harmony

Tongji Architectural Design Group

The Majiabang Culture Museum is located in the southwest district of the Jiaxing Economic and Technological Development Zone, a suburban area. To the southwest of the museum lies a protected Majiabang culture area, where just a few vestiges remain of the Neolithic Majiabang culture dating back 7,000 years. To the north and east of the museum lies the so-called Development Zone: an expanse of grasslands, rice fields, and water networks long left untouched, making the site a luxuriant natural setting. A relatively empty, unrestricted context gives architects a freedom that can, however, be a big challenge: how to build something in such a seemingly disorderly environment?

The open environment induced extension rather than vertical development, creating a set of buildings - most of them just one story, and only a few a little higher. In fact, the highest building stands 18 m tall. Running along the edge of the site, the building is reached from a road and a long walkway up to the entrance. It seems as if the architect has customized an irregular hexagonal “building-block box”, placing several blocks of different shapes, sizes, and heights into a box, and then removing parts of each box to create voids or courtyards. The volume rises and falls to match the natural gradient, and is lower towards the flat open ground and ancient ruins.

Extremely simple in design, this building-block box uses the same material and color through to imbue a strong sense of integrity and introversion. Standing outside, you cannot tell how the building blocks are fitted into the building-block box. The curiosity aroused encourages you to enter and find out. However, once inside, you have a completely different spatial experience. The architect has not only organized the functions in an orderly manner, he has also arranged spaces that are both dense and open, carefully making the walkway pass through the connections between different building volumes and the...

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