Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Gaoligong Museum of Handcraft Paper in Yunnan, China by HUA Li / TAO (Trace Architecture Office)
August 19th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: HUA Li / TAO (Trace Architecture Office)
The museum of handcraft paper is located in a field next to Xinzhuang village under Gaoligong Mountain of Yunnan, a world ecological preserve area in southwest of China. The village has a long tradition on handcraft paper making. The museum project is a part of the plan for preservation and development of traditional resources, in which papermaking will be preserved as cultural heritage and contribute to community growth. To exhibit the history, technique and product of paper making, this museum consists of exhibition space, bookstore, work space and guest rooms for artist and visitors.
The site is next to the main road entering the village. The museum functions like a preview window of the village, in the sense that the whole village will function as a big museum because each home in village will open to the visitors showing papermaking process. The museum is thus conceived as a micro-village, a cluster of several small buildings. The building scale is in concord with adjacent village and landscape. The spatial concept is to create a visiting experience alternating between exhibition inside and landscape outside when visitor walks through the galleries on ground level, so as to provoke an awareness of the inseparable relationship between paper making and environment. On second level, there is an open work space and meeting room. Through an outdoor stair, one can walk up to roof terrace with a view to the bamboo roofscape of galleries below, and a glass roofed veranda space facing east where one can have a panoramic view to Gaoligong mountain.
The design is aimed at making a building rooted in local environment. This leads to the concept that the construction is to maximize the usage of local materials, construction method and traditional craftsmanship and to be built completely by local builders. Yet it also employs the modern materials and technique available in local context. Thus the construction of museum will be both a preservation and transformation of local building tradition. It is an architectural attempt of combining modern quality with regional character by using local resources and suitable techniques in the rural context of contemporary China.
The building is designed with traditional Chinese wood structural system featuring nail-less tenon (SunMao) connection, which can be skillfully built by local builders. Local materials such as fir wood, bamboo, volcano stone and handcraft paper are used for exterior finish, roof, floor and interior finish respectively. With time passed, these materials will worn and fade into a more harmonious color with the landscape. These living materials hint a sense of time on building.
The form and detail of building is conceived to respond to the views, natural light, and climate. In galleries, the breeze blows through the porous stone footing at the bottom of exterior wall for ventilation so that the wall is free of operable windows. Thus it gives more wall area to the exhibition. The openings on the wall are purely for views to the outside. A single piece of glass is set in the opening and turns it into a picture of landscape. The high windows on side wall of gallery introduce natural light into the exhibition space yet avoiding the glare at eye level.
The handcraft paper is pasted on the bottom side of glass roof of linking space between galleries so as to gain diffused light from above. On facade, the exterior wall stops at the bottom of beam level and exposes beam and part of columns at the corners. Also with exposed roof structure at interior space and the stone column base on facade, these details reveal that the building is supported by the column and beam system instead of wall. The handcraft paper on interior finish is applied on a wood frame with 45cm by 45cm square module (limited by the paper size but guarantees the smoothness of wall). The exhibition niche layout based on this module is integrated into the wall. The white paper wall in galleries creates a soft and warm atmosphere and keeps the space abstract.
The construction of building is completed by a team of local farmer builders. Architect built models in various scales to communicate the spatial, structure and detail concept with builders because they are not used to read the working drawings. However they are good at building things in mind and they worked efficiently with concept clarified.
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