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Studio Zhu-Pei: 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 site-specific design of the Imperial Kiln Museum incorporates the understanding of the site, and the complex analysis involves such areas as urban science, archaeology, anthropology, climate, and other related knowledge fields.
Jingdezhen is known to be “born because of kilns, and flourished because of porcelain”. People come from afar to settle down on mountains and live close to rivers, dedicating their lifelong work to build kilns and make porcelain. The trinity of porcelain kilns, workshops, and dwellings constitutes the basic unit of the city, and the prototype and structure of the city are thus established. The narrow lanes are arranged along the east-west direction, and they are connected to thousands of private kilns which all lead to the Chang River. In the hot summer, the narrow lanes and eaves of the dwellings provide an environment that is fully shaded and sheltered from the rain.
▼项目区位 The project location
▼场地原貌 Sites to their original state
The Imperial Kiln Museum is composed of 8 brick vaults of different sizes, which are arranged along the north-south direction. They are close but separated from each other, implanted in the complexity of the context with a humble attitude and appropriate scale. On the one hand, the scale of the arch structures is close to the surrounding traditional Chai kilns, and at the same time, it makes a good transition between large-scale factories, residential buildings, and traditional houses. On the other hand, the arch structures of different lengths also create organic stitching with the uneven boundaries of the surrounding area.
▼鸟瞰 Bird’s eye view
▼从御窑遗址看向博物馆 View from the Imperial Kiln Relic to the museum
The structural form of the Imperial Kiln Museum is inspired by the local traditional Chai kilns. Different from the Roman arch, it is not a simple geometric shape, but a complex hyperboloid, which has the typical characteristics of the Oriental arch. During the construction process, the craftsmen did not even use scaffolding; rather, the building is completed with the assistance of gravity by taking advantage of the dislocation of the bricks.
▼户外剧场看向明瓷窑遗址 View from the amphitheater to Ming porcelain relics
▼从展厅看向户外剧场 A view of the outdoor theatre from the exhibition hall
Brick kilns are not only the origin of the city of Jingdezhen but also the living and communication space for the people here. They preserve the warm memory inseparable from the life of this city. In the old days, when children were on their way to school in winter, they would pick up a hot brick on the porcelain kiln beside the road, and put it in the schoolbag, and hold it in their arms. The brick would give them the warmth to survive the cold winter for half a day. In winter, schools are often moved close to the warm porcelain kilns; in summer, while the kilns are not functioning, they emit the damp and cold air and become good places for children, young people, and the elderly to play and enjoy. The broken walls of these kiln ruins, with immortal memories passed down from generation to generation, are the natural source of the Imperial Kiln Museum. The unique oriental arch as the prototype of the porcelain kiln, the everlasting memory of the kiln bricks, has shaped the interdependent relationship of the kiln, porcelain, and people.
▼开放的拱券 Open arch
The kiln has long become an important part of the cultural memory and urban life in Jingdezhen, and it has naturally become the structural and spatial form of the Imperial Kiln Museum.
▼拱、窑砖、光线 Arch, kiln brick, light
空间体验 Spatial experience
The museum building is divided into two floors, respectively above ground and underground, and the entrance hall is located on the ground floor. This arrangement renders a sense of affinity for the viewers while they walk in as the scale is close to the existing buildings in the city. More importantly, the experience of entering the space is the same as that of the craftsmen who were burning porcelain here in the past.
▼报告厅前厅和内景 Lecture hall Auditorium foyer and interior view
As one strolls through the Imperial Kiln Site Park, one walks under the shade, on the rustling gravel floor, across the calm water and slowly steps into the foyer. To the left, one passes through a series of arc-shaped structures that vary in size and scale, sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors, past Ming dynasty relics and rich sunken courtyards, and begins a museum experience of kiln, porcelain and human origins.
▼序厅 Preface hall
▼序厅御窑瓷器文物陈列 Preface hall imperial kiln porcelain relics on display
▼地下一层文物陈列 Cultural relics are displayed on the first floor underground
From the entrance hall to the right and through the bookstore, cafe, and tea room, we finally arrive at the semi-outdoor space of the arched structure. Water shimmers under sunlight with ripples reflected on the rough surface of the brick walls, inviting people to pause and enjoy. This historic site of the imperial kiln is no lack of surprises. This is so different from the experience of seeing the Longzhu Pavilion in the imperial kiln ruins through the vertical slits in the wall earlier before we entered the hallway, yet the feeling of surprise is similar.
▼茶室前水景 Water view in front of tea house
The structure of the arch is similar to a sandwich: within the two layers of bricks is reinforced concrete. The concrete arch inside is the main structure to resist the side thrust during earthquakes. The exterior is built with a mixture of new and old kiln bricks, reflecting local constructing traditions.
▼展厅空间及楼梯细节 Details of exhibition space and staircase
▼砌筑砖墙与混凝土梁细节 Masonry brick wall with concrete beam details
The long axis of the vaults in the building cluster is arranged along the north-south direction, and the two ends of each arch are open. The arrangement of the open vaults and enclosed ones, can not only block the sunlight on the west side, offering shelter from sun and rain but also transform each arch into a wind tunnel, allowing the cool breeze to flow in and to capture the most frequent north-south wind in summer. At the same time, in most of the five sunken courtyards of different sizes and scales, bamboos are planted to create a poetic environment illuminated by natural light in the underground space. This presents a typical image of Jiangxi province and creates the chimney effect as in the local vertical courtyards, which helps to realize natural ventilation. On a hot summer day when stepping into the museum, you will always feel a cool breeze.
▼中庭 The atrium
▼下沉庭院实现自然通风 The sunken courtyard allows for natural ventilation
Project name: Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum
Location: Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China
Completion Year: 2020
Structure: Reinforced concrete arch shell and brick arch
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: Shuhei Nakamura, He Fan, Han Mo, You Changchen, Zhang Shun, Liu Yian, Liu Ling, Wu Zhigang, Du Yang, Yang Shengchen, Chen Yida, He Chenglong, Ding Xinyue, Nie Wenhao
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, Studio Zhu-Pei
审稿编辑：任廷会 -Ashley Jen
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