“When you find a piece of stone which is three or four hundreds years old, then you understand the notion of time as more than what we can experience as human beings. At that moment the old thing might be beautiful, it might be ugly. It doesn’t matter, but it gives you a sense of profound time, and then you understand your history and ancestors that lived in a different world, different from the one we are in now.”-Yung Ho Chang
Located in Beijing’s Yuanming Yuan Park, next to the ruins of the mixed-style Baroque Palace, Yung Ho Chang’s office is in an ancient wooden dwelling, surrounded by vegetable gardens grown by the architects of the studio.
In this conversation, Yung Ho, who established China’s first independent architectural office, Atelier FCJZ in 1993, laying the foundation of contemporary practice in China, talks about his story, describing a Beijing which has disappeared as well as the contemporary Beijing and its “New Beijing Sky.” He talks about architecture using references from movies, literature, art and artists, describing his approach to architecture in accordance with his philosophy of life.
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 Zaha Hadid-designs currently under construction: Wangjing SOHO and Sky SOHO.
Yung Ho Chang, founder of Atelier FCJZ, China’s first private architectural practice and head of the Architecture department at the MIT, delivers the first BIArch Open Lecture of the Spring 2010 cycle: “China, Carb, City, China”.
The introduction of this lecture was given by Albert Ferré, director of Actar. You can see the video of the introduction after the break.