Second Firing


Spring 2019
Team: Dylan Halpern + Zhuangyuan Fan
Location: Tangshan, China

Tangshan’s ceramic production landscape is populated by linear warehouses. Long tracks and kilns for firing, glazing, and decorating the many ceramics produced in the city fill the pitch buildings. The street-scape bears some resemblance to the urban village: winding roads and alleyways populated by lowrise buildings that invite exploration. The craft in Tangshan is central to its identity, the industry dating back to the Qing Dynasty. Every day and artisan ceramics across the country have flourished, particularly in places like Jingdezhen, but Tangshan’s production is characterized by utilitarian and sanitary ceramics like toilet bowls and sinks. Ecologically, these production spaces present massive impermeable surfaces and output a significant amount of carbon dioxide as a result of traditional furnaces.

Ceramics in Tangshan are ready for a reimagined landscape and revamped industrial tempo. The large flexible warehouses can house a huge number of industries, and reinventing ceramics for a 21st century market allows for rich exploration. The study of this area emphasizes the respect for this tradition in Tangshan and the value of the existing workforce. Looking to the site’s relationship with the river and the incoming east lake park, considerations of an environmentally-friendly built envi-ronment and industrial program are critical. Finally, circular production – where the waste of one firm is the raw material of another – provides new possibilities and life to the ceramic craft.

(Text by Dylan Halpern)