建筑局部场景 © 赵强
Partial Building Scenes © Zhao Qiang
In design, it remains an eternal question of how to incorporate the local geological characteristics into contemporary buildings.
The designing process began in late spring. After trekking through verdant and thriving mountains, we ultimately arrived at this tranquil valley with an oblique east-west strike. Amidst the undulating hills scatter several residential houses constructed from stone or brick. Behind those houses, we could see cascades of rice fields, above which there were scattered "field stones", constituting a special and beautiful field scenery...
北向全景鸟瞰 © 赵强
North Bird's View © Zhao Qiang
That is where the museum is located. As we got closer, we noticed that the base was higher in the south and lower in the north. Two vague streams were converging among the veins of mountains. A century-old camphor tree was growing vibrantly at the center of the base, pointing its sturdy branches stretching toward the north as if it was resisting the slope of the base.
Mountains, fields, trees, and stones composed our first impression of the base.
基地与“山田树石” © UAD
Base and "Mountains, Fields, Trees, and Stones" © UAD
Sanqing Mountain enjoys a widespread reputation both at home and abroad upon becoming a world natural heritage and a world geopark. In the geologic history, it has witnessed 1.4 billion years of stupendous changes, including three major transgressions and multiple geological conformation movements. The unique geotectonic environment that Sanqing Mountain is located has the most systematically preserved records and most typical exposures of plate collisions between the Yangtze paleo-plate and the Cathaysian paleo-plate, which is at the boundary between the Eurasian Plate and the southeast Pacific Plate. In the meantime, Sanqing Mountain serves as a natural museum to display the formation and evolution of granite micro-landforms to the world. The rock wonders formed by its paleo-plate collisions act as the most striking geological features of Sanqing Mountain.
三清山石岩样态 © UAD
Rock Patterns of Sanqing Mountain © UAD
"Writing" on the Ground
1. Architectural Form
The design of the Sanqingshan Geological Museum is initially inspired by the understanding of its geological origins, and the abstraction and composition of its form. This covers the compression and movement of two major tectonic plates, includes the mutual transgressions between mountains and seas, and shows Sanqing Mountain's granite development characterized by dominantly longitudinal and auxiliarily transverse and horizontal joints and broomstick fissures. Therefore, the architectural form exhibits bi-directional compression and develops longitudinal fissures and extensions in strips and blocks. Further, it is cut, separated, transversely shifted and sheared, depicting the impact of "geological forces" on the form.
三清山地质板块及节理分析简图 © UAD
Analysis Diagram of Geological Plates and Joints of Sanqing Mountain © UAD
The architectural form seamlessly integrates the analysis and processing of site topography and runoff patterns. According to the south-north sloping of the site and the gradual changes of the contour line, the building further turns and bends, forming a well-organized half-enclosure with the century-old camphor tree as the core. Furthermore, the building separates the east and west blocks, which echoes the mountain trends with vast vacant space and overhead crossing. The original streams are converged and diverted to the front square and the grand scenic area water system, forming an integral creation.
形体生成分析图 © UAD
Form Generation Analysis Diagram © UAD
建筑入口主场景 © 赵强
Main Entrance of the Building © Zhao Qiang
2. Interior Space
The logic for the generation of the building's architectural form also extends to the creation of its interior space. Visitors start from the gentle slope at the northeast entrance of the site, cross below the luxuriant ancient tree, and then can arrive at the museum entrance and see the hall. The overall exhibition route begins here, and visitors can ascend to the first floor from the east section, pass the corridor to the west hall, then descend back to the first floor, and see the exit where you can see the square, the camphor tree, and the mountains afar. The indoor design is based on the "geological movement", giving people the feeling of walking between the rocks of Sanqing Mountain. It combines high and low, dim and bright, and separation and connection. With certain twists and turns, it properly embodies geological movement "images" like extrusions, rheology, cutting, and crossing.
空间连续剖视图 © UAD
Continuous Section View of Space © UAD
展陈前室内空间 © UAD
Interior Space before the Exhibition © UAD
In terms of functional layout, the east section of the museum leans more toward the theme of geology and landform, featuring special exhibition areas for geology, landform, biodiversity, mountain landscape ecology, etc. The west section is more about temporary exhibitions, planning displays, red themes, research, and other supplementary displays and museum service functions. In this way, it can be open while staying relatively independent to achieve orderly and rational zoning without losing characteristics.
Exhibition Route Analysis © UAD
3. External Landscape
The project base adopts the tradition of using local aggregates to construct the wall base and wall body of the original residential houses. Century-old camphor tree is a common species in Jiangnan (regions south of the Yangtze River) villages and often marks the entrance of a village or the center of outdoor events. Meanwhile, the base's original terrace field is also a natural "living" landscape of artificial cultivation. Therefore, the external landscape design of our new building will also preserve the ancient tree as the core. The mountain behind the museum will be in a terrace form with a gentle slope and adopt local rubbles for enclosure to complete the new recreation of the existing landform and people's lives.
形体与环境分解轴侧 © UAD
Structure and Environmental Decomposition Axis Side © UAD
古樟、建筑及远山 © 赵强
Ancient Camphor, Building, and Mountains Afar © Zhao Qiang
Moreover, the theme of water is also a key factor in geological movement (mutual transgression of mountains and seas). The design makes the best of the circumstances, combines the front square and back mountain terrace, and adopts the form of descending "pond field". During wet seasons, it can act as a floodway of the existing streams. During general seasons, it can hold a shallow water body. During dry seasons, the gravel at the bottom will be exposed. In this way, the theme is displayed in a variety of forms.
依山跌落的“池田” © 赵强
"Pond Field" Descending along the Slope © Zhao Qiang
What's more, the forest within the base is utilized and properly transformed into an outdoor exhibition booth, connecting the ancient camphor square, flat bridge below the corridor, cascaded pond field, and mountain trails and forming the outdoor exhibition route. In this way, the museum is built into a pan-museum building without enclosure, better improving the public's immersive experience with the building, nature, and the exhibits. These outdoor exhibition venues and routes will also provide the museum with more space to expand for future opening and collections.
后山林间体验步道 © 赵强
Back Mountain Forest Experience Footpath © Zhao Qiang
4. Structure and Construction
In terms of structure and construction, the museum mainly adopts reinforced concrete frames and locally cast-in-place reinforced concrete walls. The bridges adopt underhanging steel structures. The building structures exhibit a cracking style. The fissures are enclosed and protected with glass, resembling the lava or sea water during ground motions. They are lighting parts for the traffic, central hall, and other special space inside the building in the daytime and become "light through walls" in the nighttime.
剖面 © UAD
Section © UAD
东北鸟瞰夜景 © 赵强
Bird's View of the Northeast Part at Night © Zhao Qiang
The solid curtain wall of the outer facade adopts the stones from the same mountain system 40 kilometers away. The surface adopts mechanical grooving plus manual pitching, realizing vertical coarse texture, which is like the re-fortification for the frictions and diastrophism of geological movement. The square and the landscape terrace field also adopt a great amount of local stones. For example, the square adopts bush-hammered stones, the "pond field" adopts gravel for the bottom pavement, and the terrace barricade adopts local rubbles as the material and "tiger-skin wall" as the construction mode, integrating the new building with the primitive environment.
石材材质肌理 © UAD
Texture of Stone Materials © UAD
The design of this project has actually experienced two aspects of pre-thinking and consideration.
First of all, the project is located at the mountain foot. How can we better find the relationship between the new building and the site? From what perspective can the geological theme be best expressed? The theory of "Extended Topography" has provided us with great inspiration.
Topography is a science that studies the characteristics, distribution, causes, and evolution processes of surface configuration (from Cihai). As an interdisciplinary subject between geography and geology, its early development can be traced back to the late 18th to mid-20th century (represented by J. Hutton from the United Kingdom, W.M. Davis from the United States, and W. Penck from Germany). The macro and micro classification of topography was gradually formed from the International Conference on Topography (1994) at the end of the 20th century, and later developed into rich branches of "topography" such as climatic topography, structural topography, dynamic topography, cultural topography, and historical topography. At the architectural level, there have been continued contributions from renowned architectural scholars such as Simonds, Kevin Lynch, Peter Eisenman, Kenneth Frampton, Charles Jencks, and David Leatherbarrow. The proposal of "topography" sub-themes at the 2004 Venice Biennial, hosted by K.W. Foster, is an important node (including architectural classifications such as mimicry, cluster, path, absence and coding). At present, the development of topography architecture has reached a new stage of "extended topography", which has brought increasingly obvious inspiration and influence to architecture, landscape and urban design at home and abroad.
The design of Sanqingshan Geological Museum is also in line with the main connotation of "topography" and its extended theory. We start with the study of the geological movement mechanism and make it thematic and architectural, which is the presentation of the mimetic "structural topography" at the macro level of topography. At the meso level, the characteristics of climatic and surface-applied topography are reflected by combining and adapting to terrain contour lines and existing surface water bodies in the mountainous area. The preservation of old camphor tree in the original village of the base and making it the center of the building, the continuation of the original "terrace" image of the base, the extensive use of local materials, and the building and landscape construction using local methods also reflect the memory of the site and are an appropriate expression of "humanistic topography". The integration of architectural form, interior space and path, and outdoor landscape extends exhibition activities to a wider natural area of the base, reflecting the important characteristics of "experiential" and "situational" terrain architecture. Therefore, we attempt to explore, reproduce, and write on the "ground" from different dimensions, which is a new reflection and practice of the contemporary architectural trend of "extended topography".
东区空间剖视图 © UAD
Section View of East Space © UAD
建筑局部场景 © 赵强
Partial Building Scenes © Zhao Qiang
Furthermore, for "mimetic" geological theme buildings, how can we choose and consider between concrete and abstract forms in order to achieve a balance between expressiveness and architecture?
相较于传统绘画艺术以具象为主的发展脉络，具象化的建筑表达，在其发展的历程中，似乎一直处于相对隐性的状态。即使从向鸟类学习的“筑巢为屋”开始，至古埃及的原始拜物教的金字塔，至古希腊仿人体的柱式语言，至巴洛克“畸形的珍珠”及近代的Antonio Gaudi 的自然建筑，及至现代主义“清汤挂面”大背景后渐有的Zaha Hadid、Frank Gehry、Daniel Libeskind等形式大师的“超动态”建筑，乃至当前参数化的建筑风潮，建筑界的“拟物”“状物”传统，确实并非显著。
Compared to the development of traditional painting art mainly focusing on concreteness, the concrete expression of architecture seems to have been in a relatively implicit state in its development process. Even from the "nesting as houses" learned from birds, to the pyramids of primitive fetishism in ancient Egypt, to the columnar language imitating human bodies in ancient Greece, to Baroque "deformed pearls" and Antonio Gaudi's modern natural architecture, and to the "super-dynamic" architecture of form masters such as Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind gradually emerging in the modernistic plain context, and even the current trend of parameterized architecture, the "pseudo" and "shaped" traditions in the architectural field are indeed not significant.
The form selection and treatment of Sanqingshan Geological Museum is reflecting on the above "non-mainstream" and "shaped" traditions. To be more specific, it is an attempt to break away from the modernistic "purity and self-consistency" while avoiding excessive imagination and expression of geological forms, and to shape meaningful "intermediate states" of "natural artifacts", resembled or not resembled. The building ultimately presents itself as a concise and powerful geometric volume, but the space and appearance organization seeks more dynamic changes, with internal and external interactions and dynamic and static combinations, which actually coincides with the theme of "temporality" ever-present in geological movements. From this perspective, this approach to "shaped architecture" is not only in line with the emphasis of traditional architecture on the environment and space, but also seeks a certain "endogenous" thematic architectural expression. It has both the "theory" of "on the ground" and the "image" of "geology", and is the "writing" of architecture in a special state containing the dimension of time.
建筑东北向视景 © 赵强
Northeast View of the Building © Zhao Qiang
Sigh of Time
The architectural journey that began in 2006, unexpectedly, experienced a long pause, twists and turns, and changes. By the time it was officially opened, the clock has turned to 2020.
Today, it seems that these unusual experiences are also the special context of this geological museum. When the ocean becomes the land, and the terrain becomes the building, perhaps this is the specific "writing" of the "ground" of this building in the name of terrain and geology. So, even though this building has many omissions and regrets, we still hope that this specific practice will help trigger more discussions on "terrain architecture", "theme architecture", and "shape architecture".
North Panoramic View © Yang Ke
西北鸟瞰 © 赵强
Northwest Bird's View © Zhao Qiang
Project Name | Sanqingshan Geological Museum
Project Type | Cultural Architecture
Owner | Sanqing Mountain Management Committee
Architectural Design | The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Zhejiang University
Project Location | Sanqing Mountain Scenic Area, Yushan County, Shangrao City, Jiangxi Province, China
Land Area | 35,525 ㎡
Building Area | 6,425 ㎡
Structural Form | Reinforced concrete frame - shear wall structure, and local steel structure (at the large span part)
Design Director | Shen Jihuang
Chief Designer | Ye Changqing
Architecture Specialty | Ye Changqing, Fang Hua
Structural Specialty | Wu Jie, Gao Zuoren
Water Supply & Drainage Specialty | Wang Bo
Electrical Specialty | Wu Xuhui
HVAC Specialty | Cao Zhigang
Intelligence Specialty | Lu Qingxin
Construction Cost | Sun Wentong
Curtain Wall Specialty | Tao Shanjun
Architectural Photography | Zhao Qiang, Yang Ke