From the use of animal skins to create the envelope of a tent, to building structures from bones, and using dried mud for masonry, humans have long turned to the earth for inspiration and to provide us with the materials to build.
For ArchDaily’s second Project of the Month we want to highlight the versatile ways that architects can embrace ancient traditions. Kengo Kuma’s China Academy of Arts’ Folk Art Museum combines traditional techniques with recycled materials to create a subtle yet powerful structure.
China Academy of Arts' Folk Art Museum / Kengo Kuma & Associates
Selected for its careful treatment of the landscape, together with its materiality and structure, this project celebrates a duality in the Chinese culture of today: modern construction techniques versus tradition and handcraft.
1. Landscape and context
The Museum is located in Hangzhou, on a site that was previously used as a tea field. Because of this, the landscape has been reshaped, forming a series of slopes and terraces.
The design creates a fluid transition from the lower ground all the way up through the terraces, creating individual interior terraces. The staggered landscape inspires new artificial tectonics, carefully sculpted to appear as though they were always there.
2. Structure and composition
The architect took advantage of the dramatic geography and used it to influence the structure and composition of the design.
The division of these interior spaces determines the structure: a series of independent units and rooftops that are joined to each other throughout the slope, creating individual but continuous spaces.
The result of this grouping of independent units resembles the landscape and the urban context of Chinese villages.
Kengo Kuma’s choice of materials is also consistent with the inspiration of traditional villages, recycling old tiles from local houses and giving them a new purpose - acting not only as a roof material, but also as a shading device to the walls.
You can check out the complete article on Kengo Kuma's project below.