SOHO China’s Zhang Xin on Balancing Design and Commercial Viability

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The list of architects that have collaborated with Zhang Xin’s development company, SOHO China, reads like the roster of an architectural dream team (which includes Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, Herzog & de Meuron, Thom Mayne, David Adjaye, Toyo Ito and others). So it’s no surprise that the self-made billionaire lectured to a packed house at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design last Thursday. Xin spoke about her commitment to and love of design, explaining that her company’s mission is to bring a variety of architectural languages to China. And though SOHO’s projects are certainly experimental, Xin contends that her developer mindset actually helps meliorate the architect’s propensity to take the experiment too far—all without sacrificing the impressive and iconic forms of SOHO’s building portfolio.

Watch Zhang Xin link her practice in real estate to larger global issues and catch a glimpse of two -designs currently under construction: Wangjing SOHO and Sky SOHO.

Ochoalcubo: Japan + Chile

Sou Fujimoto and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (Atelier Bow-Wow) at the Ochoquebradas site © Courtesy of Max Nuñez

In , a very special project is being developed.

Eduardo Godoy, a design impresario who started his business in Chile in the 80′s, has always been an advocate for design and architecture in the country. In Chile, more than 40 schools of architecture have flooded the market, but the ever growing number of professionals has had a relatively small impact on Chilean cities. Seeing the almost infinite landscape of cookie cutter housing in the suburbs, Godoy asked himself: why not break this model into smaller pieces, each designed by a particular architect, each an opportunity for a young professional? With this in mind, and to foster the appreciation for architects, Eduardo and his team at Interdesign started a project called “Ochoalcubo” (Eight-Cubed). His original idea was to make 8 projects, with 8 buildings designed each by 8 architects, to create developments where the singularity of each piece was key, in order to demonstrate how the individuality of the architect could result in good architecture.

Kazuyo Sejima appointed as Rolex’s first architecture mentor

, Mentor © Takashi Okamoto

News from the 2012 Venice Biennale: Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima has been appointed as the first architecture mentor for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Initiative – a unique program that pairs major artists with young talents. Recognized as “one of the most important creative disciplines”, architecture has added as the seventh category in the Rolex’s global philanthropy program, which already includes literature, music, visual arts, dance, film and theatre.

Kazuyo Sejima is expected to announce her protégé in the Fall. She and the young architect will collaborate for a year on the international project Home For All, which she established with other leading Japanese architects – Toyo Ito, Riken Yamamoto, Hiroshi Naito and Kengo Kuma – in response to the 2011 housing crisis caused by Japan’s devastating tsunami.

The idea will be to design community meeting spaces for people who are living in emergency accommodation. Continue after the break to learn more.