Diyi Zhang | Design & Research Center, Beijing Institute of Architectural Design
For two months, I worked at the newly established Design and Research Center of Architecture and Cultural Heritage at the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD) alongside conservationists, archeologists, preservation architects, and designers at the Palace Museum. The project I worked on is named the Archaeological Conservation Shed Project for the Remains of the East Courtyard of Ci'Ning Palace (The Palace of Compassion and Tranquility, where Ming and Qing Imperial Concubine and Queen Mother used to live) Garden at the Palace Museum. My task was to design conservation shed and conservation displays that span 129 Meters long, North to South, and 22 Meter wide, East to West, which covers an area of approximately 2800 Square Meters over the archaeological discovery of early Ming Dynasty building sites, Ming and Qing Dynasty brick pavement, Ming Dynasty drainage ditches, and Qing Dynasty building material piles. My job was to study the current condition of the site, which was “unearthed” for this project, make the documentation to the site, and finally design the conservation shed for the area. I also helped translate the final project document into English for archival purposes. During the internship, I also toured many historical grounds around Beijing where traditional and modern conservation methods were applied, which inspired me and the team with the design of the shed and the flow for the visitors.
HSPV 601 and HSPV 640 helped me the most with my internship, especially the multiple methods of documentation I learned from HSPV 601, and the ways of designing conservation and preservation architecture from HSPV 640. Although preservation and conservation laws and methods are different in China, documenting the site and preservation architecture are quite similar to what I have done in the States.
I became very efficient at documenting details of relics and historical building sites and especially those “hard-to-get” ditches. I also learned how to pilot a drone for photographing the overall ruins, which give us a clear image of the Mid-Qing Dynasty brick and stone drainage designs. I have also learned a lot about how the Palace Museum functions, and how they manage or design the flow of tourists when a conservation project is being done at one of the more important locations within the grounds of the Forbidden City.
I had the opportunity to work with various preservation architects, archeologists, architectural designers, engineers, conservationists, photographers, and the former Director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration of PRC and former Curator of the Palace Museum Dr, Shan Jixiang. Dr. Shan and architects from BIAD oversaw the documentation process and the design process, who spent hours with me and other architectural designers on the design of the conservation shed and visitors’ paths. I also worked with structural engineers to shape the structural design of the foundation and the shed.