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Photo of the Day: Ningbo Museum

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Today is World Museum Day, a celebration of knowledge-serving institutions that’s been in the calendar since 1977. Museums across China often go big for the day, offering free or discounted entry and holding special events. Our photo theme this week is Masterful Museums — dedicated to showcasing some of the country’s most visually stunning museums.

In December, it’ll be ten years since the Ningbo Museum swung open its doors on a striking design that would contribute to Wang Shu becoming the first Chinese citizen to win the renowned Pritzker Prize for architecture in 2012.

Part of what makes the museum’s structure so remarkable is that its jagged outline and seemingly warped curves are comprised of bricks, tiles and other building materials from traditional Jiangnan (“south of the river”, the lands below the lower reaches of the Yangtze) architecture.

As the museum’s official website has it:

The design is a conceptual combination of mountains, water and oceans. Features of traditional Jiangnan residences are integrated into the museum design by decorations of the outer walls with old tiles and cement-covered bamboos. The first floor of the museum is constructed as a whole part, while the building starts to tilt on the second floor, giving the whole building a mountain and also a boat shape. This design alludes to geographical features in Ningbo as well as the importance of maritime trade in its history, thus making the museum a symbol of Ningbo history and culture, as well as a delicate and creative exhibit in itself.

When the award of the Pritzker Prize to Wang was announced, jury chairman Lord Plumbo said that,

“The question of the proper relation of present to past is particularly timely, for the recent process of urbanization in China invites debate as to whether architecture should be anchored in tradition or should look only toward the future. As with any great architecture, Wang Shu’s work is able to transcend that debate, producing an architecture that is timeless, deeply rooted in its context and yet universal.”

The Ningbo Museum is a perfect example of that sentiment.

Photo: Ningbo Museum.

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