Published March 30, 2020
In his latest book, UB Professor of Architecture Brian Carter explores Beijing-based architect Zhu Pei’s museum for the Imperial Kiln in Jingdezhen, China, a globally significant example of contemporary civic architecture that preserves and celebrates the remains of the region’s porcelain industry, dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The Imperial Kiln Museum, designed by Zhu Pei in 2016, builds on a rich history of traditional craft and culture in Jingdezhen – a city that is known as ‘the porcelain capital of the world’. The long established brick kilns that fired the porcelain there also rooted the settlements that grew around them. The design of the museum references these cultural histories and traces how they have informed both the design and materiality of the new building.
‘Root and Contemporaneity’ – the latest publication in the buffaloBOOKS series – documents the work of the architect Zhu Pei and his design for the Museum for the Imperial Kiln in Jingdezhen in China. The book, which includes drawings, photographs and narratives from the designer, architects and a distinguished scholar in Chinese Studies, celebrates the visit of Zhu Pei to Buffalo and his presentation of the 2019 UB Confucius Institute Distinguished Architecture Lecture. This annual lecture, jointly sponsored by UB’s School of Architecture and Planning and the Confucius Institute, brings leading architects, urban planners and scholars to Buffalo from China.
Carter, the editor of the book, notes that Zhu Pei’s design presents an invaluable opportunity to study contemporary design in the context of China. And by reconsidering tradition the architect of this notable new building is, he suggests, “developing an architecture that presents an inspiring alternative to the preoccupations with image, spectacle and generic modernism that all too frequently shape architecture today.”
“At a time when economic austerity and radical cuts have almost eliminated civic buildings in many parts of the world” Carter continues, “it is also especially encouraging that new development in China continues to be characterized by the design of public spaces and places of civic importance.”