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Bringing The Touch of Calligraphy to the Jade Museum

The Jade Museum of Shanghai brings the elegance and playful design of Chinese calligraphy to architecture, courtesy of Archi Union.



BY Andrew McDonald

January 27th, 2017


Calligraphy can be seen as the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and expert manner, so the parallels to design are obvious. It’s with this in mind that Chinese architecture studio Archi Union designed the Jade Museum Shanghai – an exhibition space dedicated to honouring and displaying the rich history of Chinese jade.

Located in the pedestrian shopping district of Xintiandi in Shanghai, China, the museum is housed within an existing structure, which prompted the architects to seek a design solution that creates a space that departs from the aesthetic of the host building. The long-standing art of Chinese calligraphy became the driving aesthetic force for the interior mood and design of the space. Chinese calligraphy has a history as rich and detailed as that of jade – both are precious and feature extensively in the artistic and design history of the country, which meant for a natural partnership in aesthetics.

The sphere design was chosen to deliver this unified concept. A primal shape, that exists in nature symbolically, but the structurally efficient and perfect shape only exists in design. Internally, sinuous three-dimensional forms capture the flowing light and brush it along the surfaces before gradually fading into the space.

It was through advanced digital fabrication methods that allowed these calligraphy-reminiscent design flourishes to come to life. The assembly method recalls the geography of the earth too, as the walls are characterized by thin layers of material alluding to layers of rock.

The sequence of spheres throughout the space guides the movement of visitors through the exhibition halls, providing a series of spaces suitable for different exhibitions.

Words by Andrew McDonald

Photography by Hao Chen


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