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[EXHIBITION] In Praise of Soils (Shanghai, China)

“All things are born from earth, and ultimately belong to earth.” It is an everlasting principle, and the architecture also follows.

Earth is called “⽣⼟” in Chinese, when it is used as a building material without being burned.

In ancient China, the term “earth-wood work” was often used to refer to the concept of construction. Even now it still composes the Chinese name of “civil engineering”. It can be seen that earth, like wood, plays a pivotal role in China’s traditional construction techniques and architectural cultural heritage.

Building with earth is one of the most historical and widely-spread construction traditions in China and even in the world. This stems from a series of performance advantages of earth materials, such as being locally available, recyclable, easy to process, inexpensive, and effective in balancing indoor temperature and humidity, etc.. Nevertheless, due to its relative shortcomings in mechanics and water resistance, traditional earth-based construction techniques can hardly meet the safety and quality requirements of modern buildings today, and is even regarded by the public as a symbol of poverty.

In recent decades, along with a series of research breakthroughs and practical explorations made by domestic and foreign professional teams, such as CRATerre-ENSAG, amaco, Martin Rauch, Anna Heringer, Wang Shu, and the author’s team, the tradition of building with earth is taking on new lease life, returning to people’s viewpoints and showing a unique expressive charm and great potentials for ecological applications.

This exhibition transcends the realm of architecture. Through the collaboration of architects and artists, it seeks to present a painting drawn with earth, showing the rich and diverse contents from tradition to modernity, from materials to architecture, and from science to art.
With the exhibition, we hope that in the cold concrete jungle, people would be able to touch and savor our traditions full of wisdoms, which have been deposited for thousands of years, and to feel the long-lost truth and warmth, thinking about what the values of our traditions mean for the world today.

– Mu Jun



Pearl Art Museum, Shanghai

Cite this blog post
AE&CC (2024, February 8). [EXHIBITION] In Praise of Soils (Shanghai, China). The UNESCO Chair. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

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