Majiabang Cultural Museum


Architect Firm: Tongji Architectural Design (Group) Co. Ltd
Principle Architects: ZENG Qun
Design Team: WU Min, LI Rongrong
Location: Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China
Total Floor Area: 7840.6 m2
Completion Date: 2019
Photography: ZHANG Yong



The Majiabang culture was a Neolithic culture in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China. Its name comes from the Majiabang archaeological site in Tiandaqiao Village, Nanhu Town, Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, where traces of primitive settlement life dating back 7,000 years were discovered. It is known as “the source of culture south of the Yangtze River.” The Majiabang Culture Museum is located in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, China, adjacent to the 7,000-year-old prehistoric cultural site.

As a basic unit of analysis in archaeological research, the settlement is an important concept. A settlement is a spatiotemporal archetype composed of fragments of prehistoric civilization that form a readable body comprising countless pieces of historical information. The model of the basic settlement units, constituted by social relationships and a particular spatial structure, built by the Majiabang archaeological team is worthy of being considered a reference point for the idea of a settlement.

Over the course of the project design, through the reorganization of the original settlement lifestyle found in the Majiabang cultural site, we have developed a tacit understanding with this distant civilization across time and space. By taking into consideration the vast original wilderness and water resources retained in the site, the building, which has the same texture as the site, was designed to hide in the environment in a low-key manner, thus showing respect for the surrounding environment. Through a series of visiting streamlines, a garden space is formed along traditional Chinese architectural lines.
The fifth façade, which is formed of disordered geometric units, has an intertextual relationship with the “jigsaw” of fields crisscrossing the surrounding area, and the undulating, sloping roof provides a spatial experience of sheltering under the original shacks. The museum’s public spaces follow the path between the “huts,” with an entrance via a corner courtyard that creates an entry point into the original space and gives it a sense of history. The physical manipulation of the building abstracts the prototype of the settlement, leaving a considerable amount of blank space in the geometric combination process. The spatial conjugation of the real and the virtual form an image of the settlement as “house and courtyard interlaced,” which corresponds to the traditional Jiangnan lifestyle in the Jiaxing area. A viewing platform has been built at the end of the tour path. The sequence is pushed into the distance, attracting visitors to the site so as to get closer to the history and touch past times. 
The Majiabang Culture Museum uses a mixture of pottery and pigment as the main material for its façade. The clay color of the fair-faced concrete is inspired by the pottery unearthed from the site and realized by using disordered convex and concave wooden molds to give the impression of containing an ancient civilization by reproducing its original ecological texture. Over the course of a day, sunlight creates vivid expressions on the surface of the museum.
Elements of passive energy-saving technology have been adopted for the museum, taking full account of the natural lighting and ventilation. The building uses solar photovoltaic systems and energy-efficient equipment, providing energy-efficient lighting and intelligent control technology. A high-strength glass curtain wall system (including a full glass curtain wall) is also used in the building.
Aiming to be a first-class museum with international influence, the Majiabang Cultural Museum displays the long history of the Majiabang culture and serves to bring popular science education to the public. The exhibition takes Jiaxing as its center, comprehensively displaying the archaeological culture and cultural influence of Majiabang around Tai Lake, which reaches the north bank of the Qiantang River in Zhejiang in the south and Changzhou in Jiangsu in the northwest.