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A Visit to Jingdezhen’s BingDing Wood Kiln Factory


A Visit to Jingdezhen’s BingDing Wood Kiln Factory
All images courtesy of The Artling

Spanning 1,800 square meters and completed in 2018, the BingDing Wood Kiln is an architectural sight to behold. Nestled within a dense bamboo forest, this working kiln is about an hour’s drive from the urban area of Jingdezhen, also known as the Porcelain Capital of China. Named after how the locals utilize Chinese ‘horsetail’ pine as their preference for fuel, porcelain, and china has also been a key feature of Jingdezhen's industry for almost 2,000 years. 

Over the years, developments of traditional wood kilns have been severely hindered due to the impact of modern technology. Firing with wood kilns is extremely hard to handle due to the difficulties in controlling the wood consumption and firing itself, and the entire process is now said to be facing the threat of extinction. 

AZL Architects have now elevated this 2,000-year-old craft, by creating a shrine-like, functional concrete and brick building, in a bid to celebrate this very history. Constructed as an egg-shaped wood kiln, its facade also references the kiln’s internal arched structure. The kiln was inherited by the 70-year-old Mr. Yu Hezhu and is run by a small handful of apprentices. 

AZL Architects is one of the leading vanguard architecture practices in China. Founded by Zhang Lei, who left his career from design teaching to architecture, this practice has grown in the last 10 years to win the Chinese Architecture & Art Awards, as well as the WA Chinese Architecture award not once, but thrice. Zhang Lei now works with young talented partners, confronting challenges of critical issues like culture, living & capital, resolving problems with respect to environmental & urban factors and creating future living spaces. With these motivations, it made AZL Architects the perfect candidate to give the BingDing Wood Kiln their exceptional architectural lift. 

Currently, the BingDing Wood Kiln is open to the public (though, due to all the coverage it has received recently, we aren't sure how long this will continue to be the case!) and visitors are encouraged to explore the space and on occasion are also invited to participate in their porcelain firing process. 

Image courtesy of AZL Architects

"In the beautiful and tranquil hilly village of Qiancheng, Mr.Yu and his wife as well as the local government hope to bring more attention to the Jingdezhen ceramic industry and new opportunities for rural craftsmanship inheritance and economic development, along with the revival of the wood kiln. In Chinese culture, porcelain has never only served as a necessity for daily life, but also an important container for the sentiments in life." AZL Architects 

The surrounding landscape.

Graduated from Southeast University in Nanjing, 1988 & Finished his postgraduate study in ETH-Zurich, 1993, Zhang Lei is now Professor in the School of Architecture & Urban Planning in Nanjing University. He was invited as guest lecturer & critic in ETH-Zurich, Hong Kong University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Chiba Institute of Technology in Tokyo & GSD-Harvard, etc. 

AZL Architects was established in Nanjing & Hangzhou in June 2009 to extend the dreams and responsibilities of Zhang Lei. He is now working with young talented partners, confronting challenges of critical issues like culture, living & capital, resolving problems in respect to environmental & urban factors and creating future living space in solid concrete base of high construction quality.

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Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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