Sanbao Art Museum is located in Sanbao village, a scenic place not far from the Central city of Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of China. In the past decade, porcelain artists were attracted here to build their own studios. Thus a nascent, dynamic, porcelain-centric hub is thriving and magnetizing even more talents to migrate here what comes along is their great passions and dreams in inheriting the tradition of porcelain art. Most of the industries here are porcelain related, causing a highly competitive environment, it will take great ingenuity and endless efforts to be the best.
Architects: DL atelier
Location: Jingdezheng, Jiangxi, China
Design Team: Liu Yang, Hu Zhaowai, Sun Xinye, Deng Huahui, Zhang Ruyi, Wang Kun, Lu Xuwen, Bao Hui
Project Year: 2017
Photographs: Sun Haiting
Porcelain and the maker
There are artists, arts, and places to exhibit arts here in Sanbao Village. Therefore at the very beginning, my interests were more focused on telling stories between artists and their creations than just designing a“me-too” museum.
After bouncing off ideas with these artists, I found the relationship between the artists and their creation is sort of romantic, like the feelings of first love between boys and girls, indirect probing, exploring, negotiating and subtle maneuvering. And the transformation in the pottery kilnsis like the process of developing films, it’s full of uncertainties, even though photographers projected their best imaginations onto the films before they pressed the shutter, the final results might be surprising or disappointing after the dark room. However, it was the risks and uncertainties that require every photographer to think through every detail before they press the shutter. Porcelain making is similar, it requires a lot of experience and brain power, there are always trials and errors, exploration, negotiation between the maker and his/her creation, it’s not exaggerate to say the relationship is quite romantic.
Therefore, when defining the role of our design, we wish to build an interactive space to encourage reciprocal communication between visitors and the space, both emotionally and behaviorally.
We attempted to create space with a sense of mystery to trigger diverse sensation or psychological stimulation of visitors. In a wild imagination, architecture can act like A.I. robots to silently communicate with its visitors by its spaces.
Natural and artificial
Naturally,flowing creeks are sprawling through this narrow valley, streams chant every fine porcelain for thousands of years.
Artificially, I wish to create a huge contrast to the natural scenes like a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a huge artificial creation was burying in the natural background for years. The surface is full of moss and soil, its outline, however, is still obvious in the mountain.
This is the first image of Sanbao Museum came to my mind. Architecture, the artificial, contrasts sharply against its surroundings, the natural, apuregeometric form is my definition for this museum.
Exhibited items and mirrored selves
The museum is a visually linear shape, 150 meters long, but the visiting flow is actually nonlinear, visitors will have multiple choices to go. The purpose is to boost serendipities between people and spaces, we believe architecture can create the atmosphere with which visitors will have personal connections, once built, exhibited items will no long be important, they will act like mirrors, visitors will be reviewing themselves through these items, and I believe true arts are the medium to help ourselves to see the true version of ourselves, sometimes clear, others vague, sometimes real, others fake.
So I hope that during the experience of labyrinth tour, visitors could see themselves clearer and enjoy the atmosphere. For those who do not gamble, the casino becomes the perfect place to reflect on their own.
Impression and imagination
Visitor’s flow is usually an important factor in designing museums, but in this design, I care more about creating ambiguous relationship between visitors and the space. Walls, the most important part at shaping exhibition space and atmosphere, is made of rammed earth, I wish its texture could offer a poetic feeling.
The main passage is a long transparent space, 100 meters, around it are rammed-earth walls, 4 meters high, grow from earth. Experiences vary when visitors walk through different areas, visitors will be attracted by the outstretched eaves after the woods area. The sound from the creeks will relax visitors a bit, and what lies ahead lead visitors further into the cryptic but joyful world.
Multiple choices are provided in the museum, visitors can go up and down, feel the delight stream or peaceful pond, enjoy the exhibition or relax in the corner. Different choices bring various experience, which is an enriched relationship between porcelain designers and their creation. Every tour will be a story between visitors and the architecture, mixed of discovery, expectation, waiting, anxiety, disappointment and joy.
New and old
Major materials used in Sanbao Art Museum, such as rammed earth, titanium zinc panels and travertine, will be eroded by time. We’re expecting this process of erosion, like the fermentation of wine, time gives its unique flavor.
In addition, Sanbao village naturally produces unique soil, slightly red in color, so we decided to build the continuous loam walls with local clay, it delivers certain familiarity and tension. Yet the realization process was really complicated, fortunately, we had a professional consulting team with us, received lots of suggestions and did countless experiments.All the joints weremade in1:1 samples in advance, and all the experimenting samples eventually assembled in a new landscape building.
Envision and reality
Before taking on this project, our client asked me what I envisioned about the final design. I said the feeling that I hope to offer should be like the sound of a cello played by anelegant lady.
Two years passed, when I am wandering in this museum, I can feel the gentle power of the building, soaked with tranquility and peace. So we went an extra mile, we made a video in the hope to freeze the atmosphere that could only be felt in person.