Who is the rural construction? - interview with "building speak net" (2013)


Chang Yan: since when did you pay attention to the Xinxiang earth architecture?

Yuan Ye: it should start with teacher Li Xiaodong's completion of Yuhu small project. Yuhu Wanxiao can be said to be a landmark building, Chinese architects did not really pay attention to local architecture before, but Yuhu Wanxiao broke this situation. Everyone did not think that a lighter approach to intervention, it seems not publicity, the form of the building is not strong enough to be able to get so much international attention, so we stimulate people to look at this matter again.

Chang Yan: What kind of vernacular projects have you done? How to treat Xinxiang earth building design?

Yuan Ye: We're working on a farming cultural park in northern Jiangsu. It's possible that there will be some local architectural practices in the suburbs of Beijing. Because I am doing such a project, I also want to talk about my thoughts. In fact, the new vernacular architecture design, or in the field of architectural design, is nothing more than: whether the use of local materials, whether to save costs and achieve good results as far as possible, but also reflects the regional culture, the difference is whether the implementation techniques are appropriate, so that the project can maintain local characteristics. The premise of color presents a new look, not only to jump out, but also to melt into it, which is our thinking in the process of doing local architecture.

If we can jump out of the industry, we must think about what architectural design can bring to the countryside, what can bring to the farmers? Some projects simply relocate farmers to other places, creating a new form of space on the site, importing new functions such as residential accommodation, allowing the middle class or those with nostalgia to go to the countryside and experience a different life than in the city, such as literati and artists building art bases. And so on. I think it's an attempt, but in general, it's still mostly of value to the elite, not to the local people, although these activities will enhance the whole village and form a certain attraction.

We would like to know, in the design of rural architecture, is the building designed for architects or for local farmers?

Chang Yan: Do you have to use old building materials or add traditional design elements to the design of new vernacular buildings?

Yuan Ye: it is not necessary to use waste building materials. Professor Zhu Jingxiang's rural projects are almost all industrial production, rapid assembly construction, light structure. He has done a lot of these projects, and they are very good. This is also a way, not necessarily to add traditional symbolic elements. However, most people still hope that the vernacular architecture will look vernacular, and the shallow understanding is to use local materials and construction forms, symbols and spatial patterns. Such a building is easy to integrate into the surrounding environment, but new things are not impossible, as long as the design is suitable for the local customs and climate conditions, as well as the psychological pattern of human behavior, so that the human body can experience the spirit of the place, can also become a good design.

Chang Yan: Japanese architects design Japanese architecture, in fact, many are also using new materials and construction methods, but because they grasp the spatial proportion of traditional Japanese architecture, the building still has a strong sense of Japanese architecture.

Yuan Ye: For example, Tadao Ando's works, the houses he designed rarely have sloping roofs, and the concrete is not a local traditional material. But the houses he built are also considered to be Japanese. We won't force him to use wooden grilles to push and pull doors and paste windows with paper. The key lies in their experience of space and culture. Grasp the connotation

I am now more and more inclined to simple architecture. Simplicity does not mean simplicity, nor does it mean the use of low-cost materials, but stresses nature, without the form imposed by architects, such buildings in the local not only has its own characteristics, but also can be well integrated with the natural environment and the local psychological environment.

When we were young, we lived in our hometown. We thought everything about our surroundings was natural and we didn't feel uncomfortable. This is the harmonious living environment. Now you can see things everywhere that make you feel uncomfortable. This experience is very intuitive. The so-called simplicity is to re-establish a harmonious living environment.

Chang Yan: what do you think of the difference between Xinxiang and traditional vernacular architecture?

Yuan Ye: In my opinion, traditional vernacular architecture generally refers to "architecture without architects", while the so-called "new vernacular architecture" refers to contemporary vernacular architecture designed by architects. But there is another situation, as Dr. Duan Wei studied in "Made by Xiaoshan". Local farmers in Xiaoshan built two or three stories of small buildings in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Every household was tiled and the roof was decorated with several stainless steel metal balls, like the shape of the Oriental Pearl in Shanghai. This kind of architecture is not designed by architects but spontaneously built by local people. In fact, it should also be called "new vernacular architecture". This type of house reflects the true nature of life very directly, perhaps architects do not like it, but as a city researcher, not from the perspective of architectural art, you will find that this is also a phenomenon, is a group expression in the context of the times. Orthodox architectural academic and aesthetic systems tend to deliberately ignore this part, but we believe that "ugliness" is just one of the important characteristics of contemporary Chinese vernacular architecture, in fact, it does not matter about beauty and ugliness, the social dynamic mechanism behind him is the key.

Chang Yan: In addition to the involvement of architects, what other aspects can reflect the "new" of new vernacular architecture?

Yuan Ye: The architectural training and aesthetics of most architects lead us to want to make the architecture more concise and pure. Every architect has a "Mies" in his design, and so does the local architecture. Although traditional materials are used, the traditional elements are refined and refined. The reorganization shows the effect of "defamiliarization" in drama theory, which makes people feel familiar and strange. On the whole, it is called "Mies" and "new" is mainly reflected here.

Chang Yan: what are the differences between the Xinxiang architectural design and the popular architectural design trend? Which design method is more in line with the designer's design nature?

Yuan Ye: I don't know what Gary would design if he were to design a house in a Chinese countryside. Gary is a famous deconstructive architect with strong symbolism, but I think his architecture is also very strong as a whole, seemingly flamboyant and fragmentary, but ultimately presents a complete aesthetic characteristics. If he designs contemporary Chinese rural architecture, he will also consider the local people's psychological acceptance of the form of architecture, respect the traditional architecture, respect the local customs, and eventually present a kind of architecture with his own unique style, but also dialogue with nature. I do not believe that he will ignore China's rural environment and ignore the value of traditional culture.

Which design method is more in line with the designer's design nature? Different architects differ too much, and I would prefer that my design works look like they were born in that place, reflected in the local, but not necessarily completely using traditional materials, even if used in traditional materials, there will be differences in handicraft. I especially like the architecture of Wu Chong, a Danish architect. He is deeply influenced by Chinese traditional architecture. He has to study the Constructing Method deeply. His works are often used to large steps and roofs, which are the characteristics of Chinese traditional official architecture in form and logic. Although the Sydney Opera House seems totally out of line with Chinese architecture on the surface, the formal logic is the same. Later, he also made many large public buildings, using the three stage mode of Chinese traditional architecture. I like the house he built in Spain, built of stone, very modern feeling, but on the cliff and the environment is very integrated, belong to that environment. Like a running-water villa, it seems to be a heterogeneous thing, constructed of concrete, without the use of local natural materials and traditional forms of symbols, but we also feel that it is from there.

The strong point of modern architecture lies in its universality and adaptability. Even if there are a large number of traditional buildings in the area, modern buildings built with appropriate modern techniques can be integrated.

Chang Yan: so, should the design of Xinxiang earth architecture follow certain design criteria?

Yuan Ye: is vernacular architecture equivalent to rural architecture? If the vernacular architecture is a style, it can also be in the city. The Chinese concept of localism does not mean rural areas alone. In the narrow sense, the local architecture we are talking about refers to the building built in the rural environment. The current situation is that rural architectural design temporarily do not comply with the existing building code, architects can be relatively free to play, but we still have to consider the evacuation and fire protection issues. Rural architecture in fact requires more of architects, many things are vague, can do or not do, architects should grasp the scale according to their basic understanding of the building.

For example, one of the hotel renovations I'm doing recently, in the old city of Beijing, can also be said to be a kind of local architecture. There are many old wooden houses in the old city. The original design of these houses does not conform to the structural design specifications, and there is no approval of the construction drawings. It is difficult to define the degree to be reached after the transformation, but we still have to consider the structural safety and fire resistance of the wooden structure, and consider the safety after the transformation of the building into a hotel. The problem of evacuation is not a requirement of regulation, but rather a sense of self. The architect's requirement for our profession has been internalized into psychology and responsible for building safety.

Chang Yan:  what are the new requirements for architects in Xinxiang's architectural design?

Yuan Ye: I think there are two aspects. First, architects should be stationed. They should have a lot of on-site design and experience the local environment. Local project itself is not restricted by the norms, many things are more subjective, more reflect the architect's personal judgment, so it needs direct guidance on the site. Second, our architects actually lack the knowledge of local architecture construction, so for most architects, there is still a learning process.

Chang Yan: what successful foreign architectural design cases in Xinxiang are worth learning from?

Yuan Ye: If we want to draw lessons from it, we should not draw lessons from the architectural design itself, but from the rural sustainable development in the new era and economic environment, which may involve industry, education, pension and other social issues, which is more important than the reference of architectural design.

Chang Yan: But in our country, there is still a long way to go to consider rural industries, education and pension in rural construction projects.

Yuan Ye: Now it can be called the New Rural Architecture 1.0 Era. More attention is still paid to the material space and architectural aesthetics. Sociology and economics pay more attention to the construction of rural communities and the development of Rural Circular economy.

Chang Yan: what do you think the future trend of Xinxiang earth architecture design is? Is it worth promoting?

Yuan Ye: In order to develop the countryside in China, the local architecture must be changed, either preserved, transformed or newly built. We only need to design according to local conditions and build buildings that conform to local customs.

I am cautious about the large-scale village renovation carried out by the government or developers. This development model should be very cautious, whether it can achieve good results is doubtful, and can even be asserted that this model is certainly not good. The so-called development is to have standards and unity, which in itself does not conform to the natural attributes of local architecture.