“Architecture is not just one thing. It is not just an art. … It has to deal with the real situation; it has to do something good for the society. Architecture can provide a better life for people. Urbanization is the most current thing happening in China and it does greatly affect Chinese life.”
This interview, presented by Design Indaba, is based on the “What Can Design Do?” Conference in Amsterdam with Xiaodu Liu of Urbanus. The theme of the conference is improving the lives of people migrating to urban environments. Liu discusses various possibilities in addressing low income housing, one of which involves colonizing old vernacular works of architecture such as a Tulou build housing that has a strong communal focus.
Liu also discusses the issues of urban living, especially in regards to migrant workers that come to the city to work while building a home in the countryside where they live. The waste of resources involved and the contaminants that they produce contribute to the state of the air quality in developed Chinese cities. This lifestyle is not exclusive to Chinese cities like Shenzhen or Beijing. Many Americans work in large cities and live in suburbs, commuting for hours everyday.
Liu talks about possible solutions to how architecture and committed urban planning can reduce the burden that a booming population can have on a city – improving the quality of life while maintaining the density of urban life. He talks about REAL and PRACTICAL solutions to urbanization and the environmental issues associated with it.
He concludes with, “If you want to be really environmentally sustainable to Earth, you build as less as possible.” Perhaps this means that as architects and designers it is important to look at what has already been built, what can be reappropriated for other uses rather than razing land and building anew.