China. The impressive brick vaults of the porcelain museum in Jingdezhen

Located in the center of the historical area of the city considered the “capital of porcelain”, Studio Zhu-Pei designs a museum dedicated to local history, inspired by the traditional ovens’ shapes.

Jingdezhen is a city located in the north of the Jiangxi Province in China also known as the “world's porcelain capital” due to its 1,700 years history of ceramic production. The city's first settlements developed around ceramic processing complexes, which included kilns, workshops and homes. The street pattern was also generated by nature and the porcelain industry.

In the historic city center, near the ruins of the imperial kiln, the Zhu-Pei studio built the Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum, a museum dedicated to local history and kilns. Volumetrically, the construction includes more than half a dozen brick vaults, modelled on the traditional shape of the kiln, each with different dimensions, curvature and length. This unique basic structure consists of concrete poured between two layers of brick walls.

Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum, Studio Zhu-Pei, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China, 2020. Photo Tian Fangfang

The ground attack of the building manages to create a sequence of public spaces at street level, some covered by a series of more intimate vaults, others recognizable in the five courtyards created inside the museum, each one dedicated to the five themes dear to ancient Chinese culture: gold, wood, water, fire, earth. The strategic position of these open spaces is also useful for the interior lighting of the museum, implemented only by cylindrical shaped skylights inspired by the smoke holes of the ancient furnaces, which provide natural light during the day and artificial light at night.

Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum, Studio Zhu-Pei, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China, 2020. Photo schranimage

The bricks used in the construction are partly recycled from old furnaces, to reflect the local building culture. Historically in Jingdezhen, in fact, the use of recycled bricks to build houses and buildings of all kinds is a significant character, because brick kilns have to be demolished every two or three years to maintain a certain thermal performance of the kilns.

Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum 
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:
You Changchen, Han Mo, He Fan, Shuhei Nakamura, Liu Ling, Wu Zhigang, Zhang Shun, Du Yang, Yang Shengchen, Chen Yida, He Chenglong, Ding Xinyue 
Structural consultants:
Green Building consultants :
Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University
Shenzhen Dadi Facade Technology CO., LTD.
Ning Field Lighting Design CO., LTD.
Building Science & Technology Institute, Zhejiang University 
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
10,370 sqm 
Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China

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