Museum of Handcraft Paper
by TAO

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Slideshow: this cluster of asymmetric wooden huts houses a museum dedicated to the craft of paper-making in a mountainside village in rural China.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

Designed by Chinese studio Trace Architecture Office (TAO), the museum comprises eight timber-clad blocks connected to one another by glazed corridors.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The largest of the buildings marks the museum entrance but also houses studios and accommodation for artists or other guests upstairs.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The six single-storey gallery huts line the edges of the site, sandwiching a small courtyard and a two-storey tearoom in the space between.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

Square windows frame views of the landscape from inside the galleries, although all necessary ventilation is provided through the porous volcanic stone at the base of walls.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

Lengths of bamboo cover the rooftops, which all pitch in different directions.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

Other museums we've featured in China include a bulbous one in the Gobi desert and an icicle-shaped museum of wood.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

Photography is by Shu He.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The project description below was written by the architect:


Museum of Handcraft Paper, Yunnan, China

The museum of handcraft paper is located in a field next to Xinzhuang village under Gaoligong Mountain of Yunnan, a world ecological preserve area in southwest of China.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The village has a long tradition on handcraft paper making. The museum project is a part of the plan for preservation and development of traditional resources, in which papermaking will be preserved as cultural heritage and contribute to community growth.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

To exhibit the history, technique and product of paper making, this museum consists of exhibition space, bookstore, work space and guest rooms for artist and visitors. The site is next to the main road entering the village.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The museum functions like a preview window of the village, in the sense that the whole village will function as a big museum because each home in village will open to the visitors showing papermaking process.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The museum is thus conceived as a micro-village, a cluster of several small buildings. The building scale is in concord with adjacent village and landscape.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The spatial concept is to create a visiting experience alternating between exhibition inside and landscape outside when visitor walks through the galleries on ground level, so as to provoke an awareness of the inseparable relationship between paper making and environment. On second level, there is an open work space and meeting room.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

Through an outdoor stair, one can walk up to roof terrace with a view to the bamboo roofscape of galleries below, and a glass roofed veranda space facing east where one can have a panoramic view to Gaoligong mountain. The design is aimed at making a building rooted in local environment. This leads to the concept that the construction is to maximize the usage of local materials, construction method and traditional craftsmanship and to be built completely by local builders. Yet it also employs the modern materials and technique available in local context.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

Thus the construction of museum will be both a preservation and transformation of local building tradition. It is an architectural attempt of combining modern quality with regional character by using local resources and suitable techniques in the rural context of contemporary China.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The building is designed with traditional Chinese wood structural system featuring nail-less tenon (SunMao) connection, which can be skillfully built by local builders. Local materials such as fir wood, bamboo, volcano stone and handcraft paper are used for exterior finish, roof, floor and interior finish respectively. With time passed, these materials will worn and fade into a more harmonious color with the landscape. These living materials hint a sense of time on building.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The form and detail of building is conceived to respond to the views, natural light, and climate. In galleries, the breeze blows through the porous stone footing at the bottom of exterior wall for ventilation so that the wall is free of operable windows. Thus it gives more wall area to the exhibition.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The openings on the wall are purely for views to the outside. A single piece of glass is set in the opening and turns it into a picture of landscape. The high windows on side wall of gallery introduce natural light into the exhibition space yet avoiding the glare at eye level. The handcraft paper is pasted on the bottom side of glass roof of linking space between galleries so as to gain diffused light from above.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

On facade, the exterior wall stops at the bottom of beam level and exposes beam and part of columns at the corners. Also with exposed roof structure at interior space and the stone column base on facade, these details reveal that the building is supported by the column and beam system instead of wall.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The handcraft paper on interior finish is applied on a wood frame with 45cm by 45cm square module (limited by the paper size but guarantees the smoothness of wall). The exhibition niche layout based on this module is integrated into the wall. The white paper wall in galleries creates a soft and warm atmosphere and keeps the space abstract.

Museum of Handcraft Paper by TAO

The construction of building is completed by a team of local farmer builders. Architect built models in various scales to communicate the spatial, structure and detail concept with builders because they are not used to read the working drawings. However they are good at building things in mind and they worked efficiently with concept clarified.

Project name: Gaoligong Museum of Handcraft Paper
Location: China, Yunnan, Tengchong, Xinzhuang village
Program: Gallery, Bookstore, Work space, Guest room etc.
Floor Area: 361 sq. m.
Lot size: 300 sq. m.
Design: 2008-2009
Construction: 2009-2010
Client: Committee of Gaoligong Museum of Handcraft Paper
Architect: HUA Li / TAO (Trace Architecture Office)
Design team: HUA Li, Huang Tianju, Li Guofa, Jiang Nan, Sun Yuanxia, Xu Yinjun, Yang Hefeng
Construction team: Local farmer builders led by Long Zhanwen
Structural system: timber construction with traditional Chinese tenon connection
Roofing: bamboo,
Facade Construction: timber board, volcano stone
Interior finishes: handcraft paper
Floor: volcano stone

  • rock

    materially + vernacularly very sensitive.
    congrats also to dezeen for new, larger picture viewer!
    nice project to iniciate it on

  • edward

    Nice project and it would have been interesting to see the details of the tenon joints in the structure. Also the ventilation from the base course of the walls is interesting. Maybe it's windy there.

  • http://pengeweb.dk Tjen Penge

    I would really love to visit this place, even though I'm from Denmark and it's quite a distance to go… Thanks a lot for sharing – it made my day! :)