Titled "Yuan-er, a Courtyard-ology: From the Mega to the Micro", the Chinese pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia answers the question of how architecture can contribute to equality, connectivity and unity by resorting to familiar Chinese residential typologies. Curated by Zhang Li, the pavilion will be on display from May 22nd to November 21st, 2021.
To answer the question stated above, architect and professor Zhang Li explores a Chinese typology that has been around for more than 2000 years, the Yuan-er, which means the physicality and the occupants of multi-family courtyards. The Forbidden City, which has stood for 600 years, is considered the most distinguished example of yuan-er. To further explore this typology, the China Pavilion's curation team has invited experts from the Palace Museum to help identify the underlying cultural characteristics.
The theme reflects the turning page of contemporary architecture, both Chinese and global. Compared to the obsession with forms at the end of last century, architects today are reaching a world-wide consensus that architecture has to address the life of normal people, if it is to remain a positive force in our civilization. -- Zhang Li
The exhibition tackles questions such as "why was Yuan-er able, in the past and today, to bring people of such diversity closer to each other? What are the space-body relations that generate cohesive urban communities extending from one yuan-er to another? How would wisdoms of past yuan-ers benefit architecture of our time for people to live together, online as well as offline?"
The Chinese pavilion will include 5 sections. In the first section, titled Together we Learn (Part I), several practicing architects display individual stories of inspirations and interventions related to yuan-er, through videos. In the second section, Together we Learn (Part II), 6 Chinese architects along with 6 historians dissect classic cases and provide interpretations through hologram projections. In the third section, Together we Design, attending visitors are invited to design their own yuan-ers, using an AI engine that features vocabularies of 6 young Chinese architects. In the fourth section, Together we Feel, sound installations take visitors to a journey of senses. And finally, in the fifth section, Together we Heal, the parlour of a real yuan-er outside the Chinese pavilion shares stories of how people have used the space as a space for healing.
Yuan-er, a Courtyard-ology: From the Mega to the Micro
- Commissioner: China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd. (CAEG)
- Organizer: Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China
- Presented by: China International Exhibition Agency
- Academic Mentorship: The Palace Museum
- Special Academic Mentor: WANG Xudong
- Producer: WANG Chen
- Top Sponsor: The Palace Museum
- Major Sponsor: Longfor Group, The Beijing Palace Museum Cultural Relics Protection Foundation
- Special Support: Beijing OLP Public Design Company, HONGRI LIGHTING
- Curator: ZHANG Li
- Research Team: School of Architecture, Tsinghua University / Department of Architectural Heritage, The Palace Museum / Silk Road Artistic Research and Collaboration and Innovation Center, Central Academy of Fine Arts / World Architecture Magazine Publications
- Artistic Advisors: WU Hongliang, YUE Jieqiong, ZHAO Peng
- Display Design & Graphic Design: Atelier TeamMinus
- Curator Assistants: YE Yang; BAI Xue; DENG Huishu; MANCINI,Marta ; WANG Ziheng
Dr. Zhang Li is a Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean of the School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, China. He is the Deputy Chief Architect of Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tsinghua University, and leads the design office Atelier TeamMinus in Beijing. The architect has been invited to lecture in many institutions in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and South-East Asia. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese magazine World Architecture and the designer-in-chief for Beijing 2022 OWG Zhangjiakou Zone, and Beijing 2022 OWG Shougang Big Air.