Studio in the compound-Symbiosis and Independence-Interview with Shanghai Designers Magazine(2013)


An architect obsessed with literature and drama

Designer: How do you get interested in architecture? In the process of learning architecture, who and what experiences have had a greater impact on you?
Yuanye: I think I was influenced by my parents when I chose to be an architect. My father was a high school physics teacher and my mother was a junior high school math teacher, but I was more interested in the liberal arts of Chinese and history because my father began to cultivate my interest in literature when I was very young. Andersen's Fairy Tales and Robinson Crusoe accompanied my entire childhood and youth. In addition, they are all very skillful people. Although they are not artists, they feel very good about "beauty" and have a wide range of interests. All the furniture in my childhood home was made by my father himself. He also repaired almost all the household appliances at that time. I remember when he was making furniture in the yard, I was next to him picking up the little pieces of wood that were left over and building blocks. My mother made almost all the clothes I used to wear when I was a child. Her clothes were really better than those sold in the store. I think if she didn't become a teacher, she would become a fashion designer. The love of nature and nature also originated from my father, who often took me to the remote mountains and wilderness, to the remote countryside, to almost all the lakes that could be reached around my hometown at that time. I feel that these experiences as a child have cultivated my wildness, imagination and romantic feelings. Their independent personality and optimistic attitude to life also affected me, and I have benefited from my career.
In the second year of high school, studying was not too nervous at that time. I often went to the Xinhua Bookstore near the school to read books. It is very accidental, once inadvertently in the dust of the "Architect" magazine over there picked out a book to read, very surprised to find that the building, even very "Wen"! And ... I remember that one issue was "Architecture and Literature", which overturned my view of "Architecture" at that time. I also saw an environmental art magazine, only one issue, which contained an article by Zhangyonghe, "Film and Architecture," when he was studying for his master's degree in the United States, and I was very interested in the film itself. He also dreamed of becoming a film director. I 've read that article over and over again, and I really didn't realize that architecture was so close to my interests, and it could be so interesting. It was the first time I came into contact with "architecture," and a good feeling came up. Later, he went to college to volunteer, all of which were architecture majors. Other majors were not considered at all.
During college, there was a time when I was addicted to literature and drama, not attending classes all day, and reading non-professional books in the library. It was the happiest period of my college life. The performance of architectural design is very general, because the investment is not enough, it seems that the interest point has shifted. At that time, he liked to read poems of poetry poets such as Gu Cheng and Hai Zi, and also wrote some superficial acid poems. He read Kawabata Kangcheng, Sartre, and Luolanbate, read various versions of Goethe's biography, and also read Cao Yu's dramatic works very carefully. After studying Bulaixite's drama theory, he also has a certain understanding of Western and Chinese contemporary experimental drama. I also tried to write a few small scripts myself. I remember one of them was the screenplay "Coin", which expressed a contradictory and confused life state of a young man named Xiao Bai. There is also a play "The Clouds in Pants", and several students who love drama made up and performed themselves. I played a "poet" who grew up in love and eventually found himself. The poem in the play is already my "swan song" as a literary youth. Since then, I have no longer written poetry. When I was about to graduate, I went to the Central Academy of Drama to try to apply for a graduate student in the director's department and almost gave up the building. To this day, I still think I have a certain talent for drama and film. But life has a choice to make, and I finally decided to go back to architecture.
When the fifth is at home reviewing the examination, there is a construction site of a high-rise office building next to it. Then one day, at dusk, the huge silhouette of the sun touched me somehow. I thought it was great to build a house. Being an architect was also valuable. Since I chose it, You're responsible for your own decisions. I then resolved to focus on architecture and to make this my career. In this way, my interest returned to the building and never moved.
As a graduate student, I began to have a keen interest in Mies and Luyi·kang. I have also traveled alone many times to the South to inspect traditional houses and classical gardens. Although the interest at that time has returned to architecture, it is still very extensive. In the first year of graduate school, he also engaged in a similar act art work, "Song of the Seven Sons," to commemorate the return of Macau. In the second year of graduate school, I participated in an international architectural design competition organized by the "China Architecture Promotion Association" of Suzhou University Wang Jian Law School. I was lucky enough to win the "Wangjialian Architecture Award" among the contestants of the master Rulin and was also the winner. The youngest architect. This award gave me a lot of confidence. I felt as if I had found the door to the architectural ideal. My master's thesis is a study of the transformation of residential areas for old workers in cities. I have conducted a lot of social research for this purpose. Since then, I have focused on the sociological value of architecture, I have focused on urban settlements, and I have begun to pay attention to cities.
During the years from 2005 to 2010 when I was studying at Tsinghua University, my mentor, Professor Wanglu, had a great influence on me. He considered the height and angle of the problem, his enthusiasm for architecture, his sincere attitude toward people, Even his gentle way of speaking has had a profound effect on me. I have followed Wanglaoshi in various types of architectural design, and I have followed him to Germany to inspect modern architecture. These are all happy and precious life experiences for me. He's never been a simple sermon, but a natural way to lead you into the wonderful world of architecture and influence you in a subtle way. I was influenced by him and gradually established the standards for what is a "good building" and what is a "good architect."
Another teacher who influenced me was Professor Zhouyanmin, one of the authorities in the field of residential design in our country. Miss Zhou has found a favor in me. I learned a lot from Mr. Zhou, including how to be a human being. I have followed Ms. Zhou through a number of household surveys, completed research reports and conducted research on the "children's outdoor game environment" under her guidance. One of the important insights I got was that residential design starts with life and finally comes back to life. Each one of the pictures is a reflection of the discovery and understanding of life. I think this should also be the true meaning of architectural design.
Looking back, the years in Tsinghua were a "enlightenment" process. Without this process, my career trajectory may be completely different.

Create A6 Building Studio Symbiosis with "Courtyard" in Career Exploration

a brief account of your career after graduation.
Yuanye: After my master's degree in 2002, I came to Shanghai to work for a branch in Shanghai, a Hong Kong office that focuses on large-scale residential planning and commercial residential design. Here, I must be able to quickly make a settlement plan, do sunshine analysis, and then adjust the plan, sometimes for months to use sunshine software for sunshine analysis, boring near collapse. Another major task is to design various types of rooms and repeatedly modify them until the owner is satisfied. Over the next year, I felt like I was becoming a mindless machine, and architecture was becoming a repetitive product-making job, and I felt like I was going to get rid of it. However, there are also gains, such as I deeply understand the nature of the service industry in architectural design; I understand the importance of teamwork and technical management; He also honed his toughness and learned to adjust his mentality to cope with various situations. But in the end, I chose to leave, because in my opinion, the ideal of architecture can not be realized here.
Later, I went to Beijing to work in a large state-owned design Institute for some time, hoping to accumulate some engineering experience. In 2005, I gave up my job and went to Tsinghua University to pursue my doctorate. I only wanted to spend a few years reading a few more books and calm down to think and hope to think before acting. In addition to reading writing papers and listening to lectures and following mentors to do design, a very important thing during the doctoral period was the international competition organized by the Chinese Academy of Architecture in the Tangshan Earthquake Memorial Park in 2007. My programmes and those of my partners were fortunate to have won the first place out of 276 programmes from 17 countries and were finalized as implementation programmes. Because it later became the ending photo of the movie "Tangshan Earthquake," it made this design widely known and became my real architectural debut. Although due to the tight schedule and lack of experience, resulting in such and other regrets, the results of the construction are not satisfactory, but for me, it still means a lot. From this project, I began to understand and participate in the entire process of architectural design and construction projects. I also had a keen interest in large public buildings, especially commemorative cultural buildings, and began to seriously think about my own architectural path.

Designers: How did the establishment of the A6 Building Studio affect your design and daily work? Does your understanding of architectural design change from what it was before the studio was established?
Yuanye: After graduating from doctoral degree at the end of 2010, after the recommendation of Dr. Xuzongwu, Dean of the China Construction Design Group(direct headquarters), I came to the China Construction Design Group and established the A6 Construction Studio, which is the headquarters of the Design Group. The sixth architectural studio of the professional Institute. From a PhD to a design team of founders, operators and managers, this is a relatively large leap. In the beginning, I was the only one, and there was no project. But the design Institute is a big platform after all. This is different from completely independent entrepreneurship. You can use its brand advantages and technical resources to gradually grow up. It is like a process of hatching. Even so, the first year was tough for me, but the second year was better. After all, I have full confidence in my design strength. I believe that if I have the opportunity, I can do it well. I also know very well that it takes a process to adapt to a new role. I am also prepared to withstand setbacks and hope to meet new challenges. Gradually, more and more people joined the studio, the team was gradually formed after a long period of grinding, and the small team was also integrated into the larger team. At this time, it had the conditions and strength to do large projects.
My understanding of architectural design has changed little by little. I began to learn to look at design in a more holistic and inclusive manner, rather than as paranoid and idealistic as before, because after all, survival is first -- not a person but a team's survival. I understand why there are so many "mediocre" buildings in China, and even many of these buildings come from the courtyard and the "master". I also understand that Pei said that only two-thirds of the time is used to do things that he does not like to do. To spend a third of your time doing something you love. Whether you want to or not, when faced with voices from all sides, you have to admit that the process of architectural design is indeed a process of constant compromise, but the way in which it is compromised is very different. At the same time, in the design Institute system, or in the system, how to achieve the ideal of architecture, is the question that I have been thinking. I am also always wary of my own ideological changes. I do not want to be an architect who can only do beautiful "work." I hope that I and the members of the team can maintain their independent thinking and critical spirit while becoming professional architects. Instead of following the trend.

Designer: What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of working alone in a studio like yours?

Yuan Ye: as far as I know, there are some shortcomings in setting up a separate office. The first is the lack of technical support, which is a very realistic and very direct problem. Especially in the early days, I think these problems are still not easy to solve.

Second, you must face the market on your own, and the pressure of survival must be borne independently. And in the courtyard, can get the corresponding support, which is good for the creation of architects, their mentality will be relatively calm, the choice of projects will be larger, not purely to make money to choose projects. Another problem is recruitment. When an independent firm has not become famous, the source of talent is problematic. Platform advantages of the courtyard are more obvious, good welfare benefits, relatively stable working conditions, access to large projects, the help of experienced architects, and so on, which are beneficial to the attraction of talent and team stability.

Designer: How did you think about the direction of studio development and the main types of design projects?

Yuan Ye: Both my master's degree and doctor's degree are in residential planning. I have always believed that the overall architectural level of a country is reflected not in large public buildings, but in the general level of residential planning and residential design. Who is the architect serving for? Not for the people? Residential areas are also the key to determine the basic outlook and quality of life of a city, but also the direct material carrier of urban civilization. However, the contemporary residential design in China is more subject to commercial interests. Most of the residential areas become "products" and "commodities", which are isolated from the urban structure and environment and give up the urban responsibility, cultural responsibility and social public responsibility. Architects are often powerless in this field. If Party A allows me to design a "Tuscany" style residence, I really can not get started. Chinese people, in the land of China, why live in the Shanzhai version of the "Tuscany" style of housing? Developers can do this in the interests of business, but I do not agree. With so much time and so much energy, what else can we get besides making some design fees? Human life is limited, and the architect's most creative time is less than a decade or two, do this, will not be able to do that. The choice depends on the values.

The main direction of the studio is public cultural architecture, specifically, the development direction of "textbook, culture and sanitation". Public buildings, with public participation, so that more people can use, experience, the realization of this social value gives architects a sense of achievement. Residential planning, if not simply to design a "product" and "commodity", plus a beautiful packaging, but the opportunity to contribute to the city, I would like to do it.

Designer: can you talk about your current working status and role in the studio? What kind of plan and vision do you have for the future development of the studio? If you are to describe the pressure at work, where do you think they will come from?

Yuan Ye: My main role now is the manager of the studio and the presenter of almost all design projects in the studio. I'm not good at running the market, which also determines the studio's design and innovation-oriented development model. For the project, I will control the whole process from the concept scheme to the construction drawing, even every detail node. Some projects just propose design concepts, and then give the studio's backbone members more opportunities to develop design and assume the role of professional leaders, I play a guiding role. I do not have a very specific plan for the development of the studio, but I hope in the next few years to cultivate a highly competitive and outstanding team in the Chinese architectural design market, in the field of large-scale public cultural buildings in the design of more achievements, set up our design brand in the country.

Work pressure mainly comes from some uncontrollable factors, such as owner's drawing, major design changes, difficult to determine the results of the bidding, as well as repeated failures in their own and team psychological negative impact, for these pressures, the key is to adjust the mentality, frankly accept the reality, and then within the scope of possible, try to Strive for favorable opportunities. From another point of view, "uncontrollable" also brings a lot of unpredictable opportunities, which is also the charm of architectural design work. There are also many cases, the pressure is imposed on their own, such as the pursuit of perfection mentality, this need to grasp their own. Sometimes, if you want to stick to the end, sometimes you really need to make concessions.

Designer: As a professional architect who has been working in the courtyard for a long time, how do you think about the impact of the working environment on your design, thinking and so on?

Yuan Ye: Just mentioned, the courtyard has its natural advantages, such as technical advantages, brand advantages, talent advantages, like a department store, everything, perfect management, trust. Independent firms are like franchised stores. Now you can also open stores in department stores. Our studio class is like opening a store in a department store. On the one hand, you must obey the rules of the department store, and on the other hand, develop your own characteristics. Different design institutes may have different modes, but it is always possible to obtain information and opportunities from the hospital platform, and it is possible to use its existing brand effect to get a certain degree of attention. I would like to regard this as a symbiotic relationship. But abiding by the big rules is inevitably at the expense of certain autonomy and individuality. I think the smaller the cost, the more active the building studio will be in its own development. On the one hand, the design institute should let go, do not limit too much; on the other hand, build a good platform, including technical management system, working environment, large corporate culture, etc. But at the same time, it should not be limited to providing and operating platform, but should make full use of the enthusiasm of the studio, strengthen the uniqueness of each studio, and give corresponding help in the market operation, management and technical support of the studio, will have the characteristics and potential of the studio to focus on training, under the establishment of a large brand A series of sub brands, like in a big garden, need to cultivate a few rare flowers.

As for the development of design institutions, I think it is impossible to establish a brand by simply relying on "running the market". The brand should rely on design strength in the market and achieve through fierce competition through continuous investment in "design" and "innovation". Designing institute's own "production" attribute, pursuing the "output value" nature and the real "innovation" will indeed conflict, but the core value of design is "innovation". The core competitiveness of Design Institute is "innovation ability". The nature of its service industry is also the need for innovation to win the market, should not be inverted at all. In today's information-based China, the architectural design industry has also been facing a state of global competition, the improvement of the complexity of design projects, the improvement of owners'horizons and appreciation, the enhancement of public awareness of architectural criticism and so on. All these have greatly increased the requirements of architectural design concepts and technologies. It also enhances the requirements for architects and design institutes to be innovative, technological, organizational and market responsive. Only by deeply understanding "innovation" and constantly "innovation" is the real internal driving force of design and production, it is possible to create a real brand value.

One of the "ultimate" thoughts about architecture

Designer: What is your architectural ideal?
Yuanye: First of all, I think buildings serve cities. Cities are more important than buildings. In the 30 years of reform and opening up, the development of buildings has been very rapid, but urban construction is really disappointing. We forget that cities are meant to serve people and that cities should serve as containers for group memory. The lack of rational and disorderly development of Chinese cities, the lack of human nature and public open space, and the disregard for urban history and humanistic spirit have all caused Chinese cities to gradually lose their souls, and some cities have indeed lost their souls. The creation of architecture should first follow the principle of the supremacy of the city. Whether it is a residential area or a public building, it should contribute to the city. This is a primary evaluation criterion, I think, rather than evaluating the quality of the building in the first place. The next level, the building itself. A good building should reflect the characteristics of the "local" and reflect the specificity of the environment. Of course, the good use and flexibility of architectural functions are also important evaluation criteria. This is also related to whether the building has internal logic and whether it has been generated through a rational thinking process. The thinking and method of design are right, and the results will not be bad.
When it comes to ultimate thinking, I think the core of architecture is the human spirit, in addition to its basic safety and functionality. It should soothe the heart, stimulate emotions, let people feel the precious life; The human body should be free and happy, the happiness of communication between people, and the value of human beings. This is not a big talk, but my real ideal of architecture.

I saw your blog with an article, "In front of Cobb's Tomb," which is very good. Does the idea of modernism continue in your architectural creation?

Yuanye: That's right. In fact, among the modern architects, Luyi•kang has the greatest influence on me. Although I have not visited his works in situ, his architectural philosophy is very much shared by me. He inspired people to think about architecture at that level. His idea also solved a problem that has plagued me for a long time. It is that architecture can not be judged by beauty and ugliness. It is too superficial to judge a building with whether it is beautiful or not. Architecture can be "ugly," but it may represent a spirit, a spiritual feeling in this environment, and I think it's a good building. And the lack of such buildings in China, and the lack of buildings that can give people a spiritual impact, may be related to the lack of Chinese religious beliefs. I visited Cobb's building on the ground in France this summer, and I think he was a really great architect. He is not only thinking about the material aspects of architecture. All of his buildings are directed at the "spirit." He is telling you how to "live", not only at the lifestyle level, but also at the philosophical level. "Live." I went to see his Longxiang church, the Marseille apartment, the Latuleite, you really can't imagine that the building more than half a century ago still looks so avant-garde. More importantly, it shocks you and makes you feel the greatness of modern architecture and the value of being an architect.

Designer: I feel that you are very concerned about these ultimate problems, which may have something to do with your work as Tangshan Earthquake Site Park.

Yuan Ye: When I was doing Tangshan Earthquake Site Park, I read a lot of related books and materials. I also went to Tangshan several times to understand the potential spirit of the base and think about how architecture can express the memorial and human feelings. At that time, I admired Lin Zhang's Vietnam War Monument very much. I thought that the building was perfect. Seeing it, I had a kind of confidence in the building. I thought that the building could express the huge, unspeakable thought and emotion, and could materialize and convey it, touch people's hearts and arouse thinking. Architecture can do this. So then I thought it was a direction for me to think about how to express complex and profound ideas in simple architectural forms. It also has something to do with some of the philosophical books I read when I was a doctor, like Schopenhauer and Kant, and maybe it has something to do with age.

Designer: As you said on your blog about age, it's the right age (38) to see Cobb now. What do you think of architects at such an age, what is your current state?

Yuan Ye: I think this is a period of time when values are finally formed and perfected. At this time you have a certain practice, a certain degree of thinking, the basic framework of the knowledge structure has been completed, it should be said that you can establish your methodology, but the establishment of values sometimes need to be guided. If you have no direction at this time, then some people, such as Cobb and Kang, who use their life experience and works to tell you that architecture can achieve that level, as an architect can achieve that height, can be achieved on the city, society, human culture influence. Of course, that's Cobb, Kang, genius, master, and history and the times, not that anyone can do it, but at least he gave you confidence in architecture. Since you have chosen architect as your lifelong career, there is always a reason to pursue it. It's only at this age that you can understand this, and if you're older you may find that you're not motivated to pursue, and if you're younger, you'll have a lot of temptations, a lot of practical problems to solve, and a lot of spiritual problems to think about. So I think this age is just right.

My daughter is almost three years old, and I have set up a studio for almost three years now. To say the effect, maybe she will have more influence on me than anyone else. She gave me a motivation. I wanted to take her to see the house I designed in the future. Every house could tell an interesting story. Then I had to try to make every house a little interesting.

My biggest dream now is to design a cottage for her one day, her own cabin.