Part 1 – Jack Petch

Preservation : Kunming, Yunnan

Situated on the site of an old Confucian Temple, Preservation: Kunming was based on the Field study experience, Interviews with local residents and further research into Confucian philosophy and ideas upon returning.


From looking at the original city’s plan, we discovered that the temple was once a landmark in the urban fabric and that it had been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. Now, existing inside a residential district, the previous hierarchy of the temple has been lost by rapid developments past the city’s borders. In addition, we discovered the site was to be completely remodeled into a tourist attraction. Speaking to the residents, they expressed anxiety for a proposal that would remove their favorite space.

The primary motivation for the brief was to create a building that acts as a framework for existing artifacts and activities to be cast inside: a concrete time capsule. Outlying different areas of the site I wanted to preserve, this became the overarching theme of the project. Preserving the existing garden footprint exposes the archaeology digs, and creating series of planned spaces for users to interact with the past; a combination of museum, auditorium, music school and gardens. Visitors and existing residents would co-inhabit the space.

Restoring the main approach into the space by passing through the existing gardens into a new courtyard, the lower ground museum acts as a look at the development of Kunming’s history. This approach derived from playing with the language of vertical movement and time. In addition, I looked into the Confucian proverb of showing over telling and wanted all artifacts and information organised for the users to see. I felt it important for the imperfect and broken are saved, just like the existing temple. The auditorium space would perform traditional music in a contemporary style and setting. As this area looks at the present, I included another large display wall of discarded and obsolete items, looking at the throwaway nature of China’s current approach.

Incorporating new spaces for the existing residents was a key factor for the lightweight open-air bamboo structures, for residents to set up games, perform Tai-Chi or have open music performances, which we observed on our site visits. In addition, the music school would work behind the scenes to preserve, teach and perform music with students from the nearby dance school. Lastly, the observation space on the roof level would focus towards the new ‘Old Town’ developments the city is imposing; the scheme would act as an island inside the rapid expansion of the city.

Jack Petch

In addition to the way the spaces were experienced, I looked into detail about materiality and structure. From researching and experiencing the climate, open-air spaces with lots of thermal mass became more appropriate over traditional methods. China’s shortage of building materials and rapid bamboo growth created a palette to design with. It was important for the internal structure be expressed for the visitors, large concrete walls traverse from the lower levels, as well as large supporting beams to manage the counter-levered auditorium and substructure solar shading devices.

In culmination, this project addressed the question if tangible artifacts, buildings and culture were removed from public knowledge without sentimental attachment; the real understanding of the past would become lost.



Bond Bryan Architects

West Yorkshire Society of Architects

Part of Lighting Exchanges from Deltalight

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