Although it is now more than five years old, The Ceramic Museum – designed by Casanova + Hernandez Architects – retains the power to surprise, delight, challenge and generate genuine excitement.
It is located in Jinzhou, a Chinese city around 500 km north-east of Beijing, and was designed and built in an extensive new public park area reclaimed from the sea.
Initially the park hosted the Jinzhou World Landscape Art Exposition and then became the central park of a new urban development. 20 international designers were commissioned to design 20 projects in different locations in the park that explored the paradox that globalization, although typically associated with the destruction of local cultural identity, can also generate new links between citizens and a particular place.
The Ceramic Museum experiments with the concept of cultural hybridization. The use of trencadis-style shards of local coloured ceramics for the pavement, park benches and museum’s façade evoke the European mosaic tradition right through to the daring experiments of Catalan’s modernist architects.
On the other hand, the geometry of the park is inspired by the crackled glaze of 10th century Chinese porcelain from the Song Dynasty. In this way, The Mosaic park and the Ceramic Museum remind local citizens that the Jinzhou region was once a hotbed of ceramic and porcelain, although this tradition has been lost for centuries.
The project represents the paradigm of the contemporary urban park, which is neither a fragment of the natural landscape nor a landscaped piece of the city, but the mix of both of them. Mosaic Park has an hybrid character that combines architecture with landscape, and nature with artifice.
The irregular geometry of the park is spatially unfolded into a crackled three-dimensional topography, where landscape and architecture merge into a continuous surface formed by 884 irregular planes.
This geometry is embodied as a polychromatic mosaic formed by combining flowers of four different species and colours with mosaics created with broken pieces of local Chinese pottery.
The structural geometry of the Ceramic Museum is conceived as an extension of the crackled geometry of the park, and it realised using the same ceramic tiles used for the park’s pavement, which are combined in the façade with irregular glazed openings.
At the Mosaic Park and Ceramic Museum, landscape and architecture are merged into a single identity that is, at the same time, multifaceted and surprising, with a hybrid character and strong plastic content.
The different elements of the park have a human scale to provide comfortable spaces for walking, sitting and playing. The park has also been equipped with long benches to create informal gathering places.
The Ceramic Museum also aims to arouse the visitor’s curiosity about the region’s history and forgotten traditions, while also providing a contemporary cultural focus and meeting point.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, October 2017.