In conjunction with "Contemplating Basics," the 35th Aedes Architecture Forum's exhibition of work by Beijing-based ZAO/standardarchitecture, Reframe presents an interview the firm's founder, Zhang Ke, and Dr Eduard Kögel, an Urban Planner and critic from Berlin.
Since its establishment in 2001, ZAO/standardarchitecture has produced a diverse portfolio of projects responding to the specific nature and local culture of their sites, and mediating between traditional values and contemporary means of production. Keenly engaged with social issues, Ke recognises the importance of designing in a manner that is cognisant of broader context and bridges the gap between tradition and modernity.
"Every generation of course needs to go back to the original questions... 'Okay, what architecture can grow out of this place in our time, and with our interaction with the local people and local techniques?'" he asks, "The results could be striking but the departure point is basic."
ZAO/standardarchitecture has been responsible for large urban museums and small scale rural interventions alike, adopting in all cases this democratic approach to design.
"I learnt neither to look up nor to look down," Ke said, "But to look straight in the eye, which means that you truly respect the culture."