Photography: Sun Haiting

Sanbaopeng Art Museum is located near Jingdezhen, a city famed for its porcelain production. Due to its location on the outskirts of the world's "porcelain capital," architecture studio DL Atelier chose to use the local clay-heavy earth for its walls.

The village already hosts a concentration of artists and exhibition spaces, so the studio set out to create a unique environment that uses architecture to evoke the intense relationship between the makers and the material.

The designers drew their inspiration from the porcelain-making process, in particular, the unpredictable outcomes of firing the material in the kiln which results in imperfections that add to the character of the pieces. While emphasizing the importance of creating ambiguous relationships between the space and the visitor, DL Atelier designed the space as nonlinear, deliberately staggering the museum’s spaces to prompt the viewer to explore the museum independently, with the desire for every tour to result in a different experience.

Several of the areas are separated by still reflecting ponds. As such, the route from the entrance to the first-floor reception area involves a traversing pond using a set of stepping stones that connect with a travertine staircase. In addition to travertine, the other common materials used, such as rammed earth and titanium-zinc panels, are expected to erode in time, adding further personality to the architecture.