The museum’s floor plan is aligned with the street grid of the ancient city of Jingdezhen, ushering visitors in from the Imperial Kiln Relic Park. Upon entering the cluster of vaults, visitors become immersed in an oversized sculpture, dwarfed by the expansive curved ceiling above. The earthy tones of the bricks speak to the natural materials used in the production of ceramics. Sunlight creeps through glazed walls and skylights, illuminating the deep orange-red colours, bringing the space to life.
Movement throughout the building is characterised by distinct changes in scale and atmosphere. Some spaces are hugely expansive while others feel much more intimate. Some areas are cast in deep shadows while others are light-filled and attached to exterior courtyards. This multiplicity results in the creation of breath-taking spaces, that are not only visually arresting but also provide a fully immersive experience.
“Visitors can have a 360-degree sensory experience through the repeated contact between exterior and interior that stimulates the touch, smell, sound, and sight, transporting them into a sort of trip between past, present and nature,” explain the architects.
“Five sunken courtyards varied in size have a different theme: gold, wood, water, fire, soil,” Studio Zhu-Pei outlines. “Those five themes not only reflect the old Chinese thinking about the earth but also associate them with porcelain making techniques. The overall experience of the museum tries to rediscover the roots of Jingdezhen, to recreate the experience among kiln, porcelain, and human being”.
The vaulted geometry has been created by pouring concrete between two layers of the brick wall. New bricks are used alongside recycled old kiln bricks, together reflecting the local traditional culture of construction. Studio Zhu-Pei has endeavoured to create a space that holds the power to evoke memories in those that pass through its walls.
“The past cannot be erased but can be rewritten by recounting a new awareness and maturity, a sort of contemporary archaeology,” conclude the architects.
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