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Sui-Tang Dynasties Gran Canal Culture Museum

Celebrating the Past: Between Tradition and Technology

TJAD Rurban Studio

Sui-Tang Dynasties Gran Canal Culture Museum
By Luca Maria Francesco Fabris -

The millennia-long narrative of China’s history is punctuated by a succession of dynasties that have not only shaped its people’s culture and relationships, but its land and natural structure, gradually harnessing them through increasingly complex infrastructure to serve human needs. One shining example of this is the Grand Canal, a 1,794-km-long waterway linking today’s capital, Beijing, to Hangzhou, along a route that cleverly exploits navigable rivers, large lake basins, and natural canals, all hooked up by man-made canals. Created in part through bold hydraulic engineering solutions, this complex system was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2014. Its origins, however, date all the way back to the transformation of Luoyang, a city near the Yellow River, into one of the Sui dynasty’s capitals during the reign of Emperor Yangdi, who ordered its construction in 605. Luoyang became not just a major political center but the end-point of this waterway that, in many ways, enabled integration and interconnection across this vast country’s many regions.

Over the past two decades, the Grand Canal and its historical importance have been a key driver of a nationwide cultural scheme for a constellation of new museum centers along its route. Each museum was conceived to preserve the memory of this heritage; today, in fact, only the canal’s southern section is used as a communications route. The museum showcased here celebrates the Sui dynasty’s great achievement in Luoyang. Although in power for only a short space of time – just 37 years – the dynasty succeeded in reunifying China and building the Grand Canal. The Tang dynasty went on to complete the waterway’s development.

TJAD (the design bureau at Shanghai’s Tongji University) and Rurban Studio (led by designer Li Li) designed the Sui-Tang Dynasties Grand Canal Museum on a triangular riverside lot spared the city’s growth,...

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