Kengo Kuma & Associates’ Xinjin Zhi Museum at the foot of the Laojunshan Mountain is now complete. The 2,353 sq m facility is a glimmering fractured volume compiled using local materials to showcase ‘the essence of Taoism through its space and exhibitions’. Various displays of religious intent are exhibited in a continuous series of gallery spaces which elevate through three levels.
The building volume is located on a 2,580 sq m plot near the entrance to a holy Taoist site, a religious belief system which teaches that followers should live in harmony with Tao, the source and essence of life. As such, a sensitive design approach was taken utilising local and traditional materials and techniques to ensure that just respect was served to the sacred site.
Tiles formed in the local vicinity were stretched and suspended on wire strings as a second façade to the Xinjin Zhi Museum, animating the building surface in the breeze and shading the glazed exterior beneath. Kengo Kuma & Associates suggest that this design choice also enables the material to be ‘released from its weight (and gain lightness)’.
Angular façade placements and a solid concrete frame create a number of pointed projections and cantilevers which lend a dynamic visual aesthetic to the Museum. In contrast to the many small tiles which hang weightlessly on the building’s exterior, the east façade sports a single twisted tile screen which has been twirled in a vertical direction.
Kengo Kuma & Associates explains this design thus: “The façade for the north side is static and flat, which faces the pedestrians’ square. Thus the tile screen transforms itself from face to face, and wraps up the building like a single cloth. Taking advantage of the varied levels in the architecture’s surroundings, the flow is planned to lead people from the front to the back, motion to stillness, like a stroll type of garden.”