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Zijing International Conference Camp

Blending Modernism and Nature

Studio Zhu-Pei

Zijing International Conference Camp
By Li Xiangning -

Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of southern China, has become a major landmark on the country’s contemporary cultural landscape, its ancient, often intangible artistic traditions blending effortlessly with the modern language of today. Its recent urban renewal, which includes the development of a large cultural project called Ceramic Art Avenue Taoxichuan, has put the city on the tourism map. The refurbished buildings of the Taoxichuan project, the BingDing Wood Kiln by Zhang Lei and the Imperial Kiln Museum by Zhu Pei (THE PLAN 126) are now joined by a new conference camp, an architectural complex, again by Zhu Pei, in a lesser-known natural setting offering visitors a unique experience immersed in a peach tree garden.
The project posed a complex challenge for the architect: how to place a large new complex made up of closed meeting environments and camp accommodation facilities in a serene natural environment, without negatively impacting the spirit of the place. The challenges were inspirational for Zhu Pei’s design.
Many traditional Chinese villages are characterized by winding roads and paths that follow the unevenly sloping terrain, creating ever-shifting, often surprising and visually dramatic spatial experiences. This same template was skillfully and sensitively adopted to create the spatial model for the whole complex, which, both a conference as well as a residential center, becomes a metaphor for human communication and living together, the essence of human interaction. The beautiful natural setting in which these activities take place lends a poetic quality to human endeavor.
The architectural program is a skillful weave of small, scattered monoliths that successfully ensconces the complex in its natural setting, blending it into the undulating topography like the buildings of a traditional village. The architectural style speaks to Zhu Pei’s signature modernist language. Both the tall colonnaded spaces and...

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