A Strategy of Incompleteness: An Interview with Zhu Pei
The architect of China’s Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum talks about tradition, renewal, and addressing the changing climate.
Evangelos Kotsioris, Martino Stierli
Sep 15, 2021
The recently completed Jingdezhen Imperial Kiln Museum, designed by Studio Zhu-Pei, occupies a prominent site in the historic center of Jingdezhen. Often referred to as China’s porcelain capital, the city was previously home to the Imperial Kilns of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1636–1912) dynasties, the ruins of which can be found in the project’s immediate vicinity. The spatial organization of the museum is produced by the repetition and variation of a basic structural unit—a double brick masonry vault with poured concrete in between—which creates a series of cavernous spaces for the presentation of the museum’s collections. This element references the geometry, materials, and structural efficiency of traditional kilns, many of which can still be found nearby. In keeping with the local custom of demolishing aging furnaces every two to three years and reusing their material for other structures, the new museum incorporates both newly fired and recycled bricks amassed from the disassembly of old furnaces.
Recently we corresponded via email with Zhu Pei about his design for the museum, which is featured in MoMA’s exhibition Reuse, Renew, Recycle: Recent Architecture from China, opening on September 18.
Reuse, Renew, Recycle: Recent Architecture from China, organized by Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, and Evangelos Kotsioris, Assistant Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, is on view at MoMA September 18, 2021, through July 4, 2022.
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