Ningbo Museum

The Ningbo Museum, which won a Pritzker prize for architect Wang Shu last year, is a challenging edifice. Combining traditional elements and materials with monumental modernism — in its most uncompromisingly brutalist manifestation — it realizes a peculiar complex of delicacy and terror.
NingboMuseumWang’s signature facades already display the same ambiguity in embryo. His vast sheer planes, shown in the Ningbo Tengtou pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo (2010), memorialize a demolished past. The bricks and tiles from obliterated villages are recycled into exquisitely tessellated, endlessly absorbing surfaces, sparsely punctuated by irregularly oriented and distributed windows. The tension between crushing scale and intricate composition is immense (and intimate). Subtle drifts of texture and color from the non-uniform materials make the walls into sensual displays of abstract pattern, whilst their massive geometric rigor approaches a state of absolute menace (with an unmistakable military-totalitarian edge).

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