In China's newly emerging constellation of famed architects, few firms elicit the sense of surprise caused by the work of Atelier Deshaus. With projects ranging from awe-inspiring to humble, their work does not adhere to any stylistic rules, but all of their projects exude an enigmatic aura. In this interview, the latest in Vladimir Belogolovsky’s “City of Ideas” series, principals Liu Yichun and Chen Yifeng discuss the role of identity in their work and how they try to connect their buildings to the landscape.
Vladimir Belogolovsky:Is it true that you each design different projects in the studio? Why is that?
Liu Yichun: This has been true since 2010. Before that we always designed everything together. We used to have endless discussions and too many disagreements and arguments. That’s why we decided to pursue two parallel paths. This approach led to greater efficiency and it helped us to formulate clearer ideas of our independent views of architecture. It also helps us to diversify our work and to avoid forming one recognizable style.
Chen Yifeng: It is important for us to express our solutions differently, even though, fundamentally, we are working in one direction and pursuing one family of ideas.
So many of our readers around the world celebrate Chinese New Year and welcome fresh beginnings in the Year of the Dog, we would like to take a look back at 2017 and share with you the most visited projects from China. This is a collection of projects coming from world-famous practices such as MVRDV and MAD Architects, and also from the younger, local talents who have demonstrated great potential in bringing positive changes to China’s built environment.
This article was originally published on the blog of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the largest platform for contemporary architecture in North America. The 2017 Biennial, entitled Make New History, will be free and open to the public between September 16, 2017 and January 6, 2018.
Beyond individual buildings, China’s mega-architecture boom is rapidly developing entirely new cities, a process designed to relieve the country’s principal metropolitan areas of their high density, while offering new prototypes for urban life. These highly branded environments are prompting displacement – as a form of rural exodus – and social stress throughout the country, while also ignoring the legacy of traditional Chinese architecture in urban centers.
Architecture is always a reflection on how to interact with and relate to nature. Some architects show a preference for distinctive shapes and materials that contrast with the landscape, while others prefer to mimic the surroundings with organic works. But regardless of the techniques employed, architecture has reached the most remote and incredible places on the planet. Below is a selection of 16 images which show the combination of architecture and landscape by prominent photographers such as Su Shengliang, Sergio Pirrone and Valentin Jeck.
It can't be denied that architects love brick. The material is popular both for its warmth and for the diversity of expressions that can be achieved by applying it in a creative way—depending on the arrangement of individual bricks or the combination of bonds, it’s possible to arrive at a result that is both original and attractive. That ingenuity is what photographers like Hiroyuki Oki, Gustavo Sosa Pinilla, and François Brix, among others, have attempted to capture in their photographs. In these images, light is a key element of good composition, allowing the photographers to control the intensity of color and the contrast of masses and voids, as well as enhancing the incredible textures of the brick we love so much.