One of the immediate impressions that I formed of the Beijing-based architect and Tsinghua University Professor Li Xiaodong (b. 1963) is his reassuring self-confidence. Following our interview, Professor Li asked me a question of his own - would I like to teach at his school? “I never taught in my life,” I replied. He quickly countered, “I know. You can teach. Yes or no?” If I have learned anything about life, it is that when opportunities come you should grab them first and think later. "If he is so confident in me, why shouldn’t I trust him?” I reasoned.
Li Xiaodong Atelier: The Latest Architecture and News
During our last trip to Beijing we had the opportunity to visit Li Xiaodong at his recently opened extension for the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University. Li Xiaodong has become recognized worldwide thanks to his recent projects in rural China, which are deeply connected with the landscape and local community and use a mix of traditional and contemporary techniques.
His built works are strongly connected with his academic research. As a professor at Tsinghua University he has focused on understanding Chinese architecture, co-authoring publications such as “Form Making in Traditional Chinese Architecture” and “Chinese Conception of Space." His research has led him to develop a unique style, which he calls a “new regionalism," focusing on how the local can deal with the global in this era.
The Royal Architecture Institute of Canada (RAIC) have announced that Li Xiaodong has been awarded the inaugural Moriyama International Prize, named after esteemed Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama. The prize, which comes with a monetary value of CAD$100,000, has been established to recognise buildings that are judged to be "transformative, inspired as well as inspiring, and emblematic of the human values of respect and inclusiveness."
The jury deliberated projects submitted from nine countries: Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Tajikistan. According to the citation, the jury was "impressed by the breadth of international interest in the prize and encouraged by the high level of engagement with the aims and objectives of the program revealed in the submissions." The prize is open to all architects irrespective of nationality and location and seeks to recognise a single work of architecture (as opposed to a life’s work), celebrating buildings in use.
As an accompaniment to their ongoing Sensing Spaces Exhibition in London, the Royal Academy of Arts has produced six wonderful films interviewing the architects involved in the exhibition, unearthing what motivates and inspires them as architects, and what the primary themes of their exhibition projects are.
The above video features both Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, who both designed their Sensing Spaces exhibits with the other in mind. Siza explains his preoccupation with the joints between the natural and the man-made through his Leça Swimming Pool complex, and the way the rock formations informed his interventions. He also introduces his one-time protégé Souto de Moura's Braga stadium as expressing the same understanding of the natural and man-made.
See videos from the 5 other Sensing Spaces participants after the break
This past week London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) celebrated the opening of, what many claim to be, one of the most “epic” and “enchanting” exhibitions of 2014: Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. With a series of large scale installations by some of profession’s most acclaimed architects, such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Kengo Kuma, the immersive exhibition creates an atmosphere that encourages visitors to become part of the experience and open their minds to the sensory realm of architecture.
"Architecture is so often the background to our lives," stated curator Kate Goodwin. "We often don't think about it - it's practical and functional, but when does it do something more?"
A preview of the installations, after the break.