Dingshu Pottery Vocational School / genarchitects

Dingshu Pottery Vocational School / genarchitects

Cloister courtyard located at the entrance to the service building.  Image © Hao ChenLow-rise buildings and various plants on campus.  Image © Hao ChenBoth sides of each classroom open onto a planted courtyard, corridors connect the classroom units.  Image © Hao ChenThe hallway connecting the classroom units is wider than normal, interspersed with suns and plants.  Image © Hao Chen+ 48

Low-rise buildings and various plants on campus.  Image © Hao Chen
Low-rise buildings and various plants on campus. Image © Hao Chen

Text description provided by the architects. In the context of industrialization, “craft pottery” still has an irreplaceable appeal. “Craftsmanship” is at the heart of this school’s teaching, and the “craftsmen’s workshop” is at the center of the campus. We have found a form for each function and leave them in their place. The different shapes of buildings create a rich outdoor space that distinguishes the campus from the school typology dominated by massive buildings. People can easily walk between buildings and feel the change in phenology. —— genarchitects

Both sides of each classroom open onto a planted courtyard, corridors connect the classroom units.  Image © Hao Chen
Both sides of each classroom open onto a planted courtyard, corridors connect the classroom units. Image © Hao Chen

Dingshu, pottery culture, vocational school. Ding Shu is located in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, 200 kilometers from Shanghai. This small town on the shore of Taihu Lake has a history of pottery making for thousands of years. All the kinds of pottery produced are famous, among which the best known is Zisha clay teapot Zisha. For centuries, owning an elegant Zisha teapot has been a long-standing quest for Chinese scholars and tea drinkers. With the increase in demand and the development of pottery culture, Dingshu, the birthplace of Zisha teapot, has gradually developed into the production and trade center of Zisha teapot. Therefore, the life of local community residents is also closely related to pottery culture.

View of the administrative building surrounding the courtyard of the elms.  Image © Hao Chen
View of the administrative building surrounding the courtyard of the elms. Image © Hao Chen

As one of the few schools specializing in pottery training in the national rural adult education system, Dingshu Pottery Vocational School aims to raise income levels and improve livelihoods. livelihoods by providing academic education and vocational training and is meant to reach out to rural communities. which lack public facilities after school hours as a place for education and public activities.

Courtyard and hallway between classroom units.  Image © Hao Chen
Courtyard and hallway between classroom units. Image © Hao Chen

Workshop, Campus. Through the study of local pottery history, gen architects learned how pottery making was passed down from master to apprentice in the workshop. By organizing seminars with people from the surrounding communities, practitioners, teachers and craftsmen, we find the clue to the creation of “a school of craftsmen”, and the design goal of a campus with low density centered on a “pottery workshop” was gradually established. Instead of designing a common campus with massive buildings and vast plazas, Dingshu Pottery Vocational School is a low-density group of buildings that adopted the curvy spatial layout of traditional craftsmen’s workshops. The four essential buildings , namely two workshops, a multifunctional hall, and an exhibition hall, are placed in the center of the campus, and the Beech Tree Plaza surrounded by them serves as the central stage for outdoor events.

The exhibition building is connected to the classroom units on the north and south sides by corridors.  Image © Hao Chen
The exhibition building is connected to the classroom units on the north and south sides by corridors. Image © Hao Chen
Cloister courtyard located at the entrance to the service building.  Image © Hao Chen
Cloister courtyard located at the entrance to the service building. Image © Hao Chen

Unique and whole. The architects prioritized the unique spatial requirements for each stage of the pottery-making process and arrived at a variety of unique spaces, including classrooms with unobstructed views and even light for reading and drawing. , introverted and quiet workshops for carving and embossing, and a showroom with a quiet atmosphere surrounded by large beams and columns to exhibit the exceptional pottery works. Each function acquires its corresponding space, structure, and equipment, resulting in a series of unique buildings.

The hallway connecting the classroom units is wider than normal, interspersed with suns and plants.  Image © Hao Chen
The hallway connecting the classroom units is wider than normal, interspersed with suns and plants. Image © Hao Chen

A dozen scattered, low-rise “little buildings” are thus improvised, with different types of outdoor spaces existing between them, all benefiting from good natural light and good ventilation. These different juxtaposed interior and exterior spaces are connected by semi-exterior canopy porches and form a rich and diversified environment. The pleasant landscape and the atmosphere of free communication serve as a source of inspiration for the creation of pottery.

Interior view of the multifunctional room.  Image © Hao Chen
Interior view of the multifunctional room. Image © Hao Chen

Material, Location. Brick, concrete and sandstone are the main materials of this campus. The firing of bricks, the masonry of walls and the pouring of concrete are similar to pottery making and convenient for local builders. The use of ordinary materials combined with new construction techniques allows the campus to blend easily into the existing context of the city. Once complete, builders and local residents immediately feel so close to the new campus.

Brick wall made of the same block changing in different directions.  Image © Hao Chen
Brick wall made of the same block changing in different directions. Image © Hao Chen

Born from the development of pottery, this school now provides quality pottery training to thousands of neighborhood residents every year, improving their professional skills as well as their standard of living. Meanwhile, the ongoing cultural demonstration and exchange activities that take place at the school also benefit the local community and continue the long tradition of pottery making in this small town.

The exhibition building and classroom units on the south side.  Image © Hao Chen
The exhibition building and classroom units on the south side. Image © Hao Chen

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