Architecture should bloom freely like a flower --- An interview with Zhao Yujie, a reporter of China


For remembrance

Yuan Ye used the word "too lucky" to describe the implementation of 276 projects selected from 17 countries in 2007 as the Tangshan Earthquake Site Memorial Park. This is the first time that he has presided over such a large-scale project, and the social significance it bears makes Yuan Ye feel the unbearable burden of life.

Tangshan Earthquake Site Memorial Park is to commemorate the dead ordinary people, for the living to provide a collective place to hang. When Yuan Ye first received the title of competition, his first reaction was that everyone's name must appear. "It is not a lofty building, but also a universal concept. In more than two months of conceiving, I had a lot of ideas in my mind, and I looked through a lot of information about Tangshan. I've been thinking about how to express it in a powerful way. It must be very concise. Anyone can read it at once, and it must be directed to the heart of the people. At the bidding moment, I decided to return to the simplest way -- the memorial wall.

Wall is the most basic element of architecture, and also the key of this design. A long memorial wall from the entrance to the ruins reinforces the theme of the memorial road, which separates the vast water on the West from the treetops on the East and connects through a series of gaps. "The most important feature of our project is that it does not rigidly add new design elements to destroy the entire base, but conforms to the potential of the base, digging it out."

In fact, at the beginning of the scheme, the wall materials were selected for glass. Yuan Ye believes that the stone walls are too common, and he has carefully studied the design of many classic stone Memorial walls, including the U.S. Vietnam War Monument designed by Lin Zhang, and found it difficult to surpass, especially the perfection of the U.S. Vietnam War Monument. "If it is a glass memorial wall is not the same, glass with transparent and reflective characteristics, it reflects the richness of stone can not be compared. We designed two parallel glass walls with 3 meters of passage between them so that people could walk between them. In this way, the water, trees and visitors on both sides of the inscribed Memorial Wall will be superimposed by the presence of light, and all the scenery will be condensed on the wall. This will create a resonance between the living, the dead, and the sky and the earth.

But in the process of deepening the design, including local government officials and ordinary people, many people have questioned the glass Memorial wall, the query mainly focused on the firmness and maintenance costs, more crucial is the difference in memorial understanding. It is believed that glass is transparent and fragile, and is not suitable for expressing solemnity and commemorative nature. After careful consideration of these opinions, Yuan Ye finally decided to accept the majority of people's opinions, instead of polished black granite. "Giving up and making decisions is a very painful process, and at that time I was almost dreaming. But after all, it's a monument for the 240,000 dead and more people who want to remember them alive, and their views should be respected.

After the foundation of the park, a "7. 28 commemorative event" was held. The scene of that day was Yuan Ye's life. "The event was held in the evening. Every stone in the water was covered with candles. When countless candles were lit, it was really shocking." In the following years, Yuan Ye successively designed the Tangshan Municipal Remains Donor Monument, Tangshan Municipal Library and so on, he has regarded Tangshan as the second hometown.



Building at 4200 meters above sea level

In 2011, Yuan Ye participated in the reconstruction work after the Yushu earthquake and designed Zaduo County Cultural Center, a group of cultural buildings for local Tibetans, including libraries, theatres, bookstores, intangible cultural heritage institutes and mass stadiums.

From Beijing to Xining, 1800 kilometers; from Xining to Yushu, 800 kilometers; from Yushu to Zaduo, 200 kilometers; two of them need to cross a bay near 4800 meters above sea level. The average altitude is 4200 meters, while Lhasa is only 3700 meters. On numerous days, Yuan Ye experienced the severe plateau reaction in the legend, and almost sleepless all night. But compared with this rare design opportunity, it seems so insignificant. "How lucky to have the opportunity to design a library, a theater, a bookstore, a research institute and a gymnasium for the Kangba people and Tibetan children at such an elevation and such a special place! Although far from perfect, although all the buildings add up to only ten thousand square meters.

The first thing to consider in the design is what is a variety of cultural centers, which needs to examine the local natural and cultural landscape and customs. As you can see from Google Earth, most of the local dwellings are L-shaped courtyards, because they have to shield the winter northwest wind and ensure sufficient south-facing light. "We have built such a surrounding courtyard in the whole group of buildings. Through the planar location of libraries, bookstores and theatres, a square open to the city is created, which is also a cultural "stage" for the local people, so that the outdoors habituated and able to sing and dance in the new town, can also find a feeling of living on the plateau. At the entrance to the stage stands a column of "six words of truth". Each column is of different colors, representing the six words of "Yo", "Ah", "Na", "Horn", "Mi", "Yo". This gives the whole space a religious sense of ceremony and directly expresses the national and regional characteristics of the cultural center.

Each building continues the rectangular form of Tibetan architecture. In Yushu area where earthquakes are frequent, this kind of architectural form with large base and regular shape is more conducive to earthquake resistance. Architectural monomer design extracts design elements from Tibetan traditional architectural styles and transforms them into modern architectural language. The plane of the library implies the character form of "Mao" in Tibetan Buddhism, and the upward grading of the architectural form is the basic feature of Tibetan architecture. "We made some adjustments in the window of the library, designed as a niche with a niche. The theatre's receipt pattern changed from the tilted wall to a three-step pattern, opposite the library. Bookstores and intangible cultural heritage institutes are dynamic elements in the complex, and play a mediating role in reconciling libraries and theatres, its appropriate deflection, so that the public space has a lively effect. The three buildings are like a harmonious family of three, and it really makes a lot of Kangba people feel at home.

After several rounds of modification, the stadium has finally chosen a white Hathaway metal roof. The structure is simple and powerful, and its solid and thick walls are like the rugged and strong figure and character of the Kangba people. The huge white roof, known as the "miscellaneous tents", expresses another character of the Kangba people - detached, romantic and sky-worshiping feelings. It also reminds us of the Snow Mountain, the sacred mountain in Tibetan hearts. "Perhaps this expression is too straightforward, not abstract enough, but I hope the building is semantically clear, the extraction of cultural symbols can maximize the local traditional architecture and natural and cultural landscape, so that local people, even children can understand at once." Yuan Ye said.



Endow architecture with a cultural spirit.

In recent years, A6 Architectural Studio has designed many cultural buildings. How to transform the local natural and cultural landscape into a complete and abstract design scheme and endow the architecture with a cultural spirit has become the most important question for Yuan Ye to think about.

Yuan Ye believes that the cultural spirit of architecture originates from two aspects: one is the cultural characteristics of architecture itself, the other is the natural and cultural environment in which architecture is located. To achieve the ultimate organic combination of these two aspects, we need to find a point, like writing an essay. "For example, the design of Shandong Museum of Art, on the one hand, to express the cultural characteristics of the museum, to answer what is the museum. On the other hand, we should fully tap its cultural environment. Yuan Ye said, "The cultural environment includes many levels: base characteristics, this is a small environment; Jinan's urban culture, this is a larger category of cultural environment; Shandong's regional culture, this is a larger cultural environment. This is to answer what Shandong art museum must do.

The scheme takes the cracked Taishan stone as the starting point of design, implying the break, collision and fusion between eastern and Western culture, traditional art and contemporary art and life. Bronze ware bears a long history of Shandong, reminiscent of the profound impact on Chinese civilization of the Zhou ritual culture. The whole building is covered with bronze. Over time, the oxidized bronze will take on a vicissitudes of life, giving the museum a deep temperament. The Museum sits in square water, surrounded by boulders and seeped through cracked openings - an image of water-rock blending that reflects the elements of art itself, the natural landscape and cultural symbols peculiar to Shandong, but expressed in an abstract way.


Design each building as a miniature city

"Building should be as free as flowers", which is Yuan Ye's blog in a sentence. Flowers are indeed free, they grow according to their own needs, unreservedly greet the sun and rain and dew, to show its splendor. Flowers are also open, and their openness does not sacrifice their uniqueness. Buildings should be like this, so should cities. The sense of insecurity and irresponsibility of the minority should not be allowed to artificially limit the freedom of the overwhelming majority. Urban civilization is ultimately reflected in the attitude towards freedom.

"I know this is too idealistic, but that should be our goal. Our cities have now formed numerous fortresses, each of which is open to a small number of people. Outsiders are forbidden to enter, and people's willingness to move freely is greatly suppressed. It is often impossible to enter a residential area directly from one community to another. The design of many schools and kindergartens now includes little consideration for the free movement and communication of children.

Yuan Ye tends to design each building as a mini-city, hoping that indoors and outdoors will present a vague state in which people can shuttle freely. In the design of Qian'an No.6 Experimental Primary School, a circular sinking public activity square and auxiliary building form the core area of the school. All the buildings surround this core area and contain music, dance, art and library, so as to encourage children to explore and develop in an all-round way.

The core area provides a circular platform Plaza for public activities. In the center of the Plaza is a big tree, which can not only enrich the visual level of the school landscape, but also a spiritual sustenance, bearing the childhood dream. After school, children relax, perform and play in the square, enjoying a relaxed and joyful experience. Louis Kang's description of the school's origin: "A man sitting under a tree discussing his understanding of things with a group of people does not understand that he is a teacher, they do not understand that he is a student. Students reacted in an exchange of ideas to see how well the man appeared. They wanted their sons to listen to this person. Soon the space was formed. This is the first school. "



    "Louis Kang was one of the architects who had the greatest influence on him," Yuan Ye said. "The Salk Institute of Medicine and the Kimberley Museum of Art designed by Louis Kang rejected all vulgar objects and displayed unparalleled simplicity, purity and spiritual strength. I do feel a sense of what Louis Kant calls the existence of tranquility and light, and these two works are my coordinates, and I long to be able to design such buildings one day.