Wang Shu: The Artisanal Architect

Wang Shu: The Artisanal Architect

Earlier this year Wang Shu became the first Chinese architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. LP talks to the Hangzhou-based designer about his commitment to Chinese traditions and creating sustainable, human buildings during a time of rapid modernisation.

今年年初,中国美术学院建筑艺术学院院长王澍成为荣获普利兹克建筑奖的首位中国 本土建筑师。本刊采访了在杭州工作的王澍,听他讲述了对传统的坚持和在高速的城 市化进程中设计可持续发展的、散发着人性魅力建筑的心路历程。

He may be the 37th recipient of architecture’s biggest accolade – often deemed architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize – but Wang Shu has little interest in fame or fanfare. Earlier this year the Prize garnered him a spate of worldwide publicity just as he was planning a sabbatical. “It was really a surprise but I was also a little bit disappointed,” the 48-year-old architect says. Surprise is a reaction to be expected from the relatively young designer who has never built outside of China and considers himself an “underground architect” – but disappointment? “I had just decided to  stop my studio work for two years as my 11-year-old son needs me,” he explains. “I had started refusing new projects. I really wanted to stop. But when I got the news, I knew I couldn’t.”

In a time of rapid development in China, when sparkling glass towers seem to appear overnight, Wang has become known for his quiet, understated style, for taking on just one or two projects at a time and preferring small-scale buildings over landmark structures.

Born in Urumqi and raised in Beijing, Wang studied architecture at Nanjing Institute of Technology in the 1980s. But he found his classes were of little relevance to life in China. “At university, architecture meant old techniques, not new approaches,” he recalls. “China’s traditional system had no architects – we have a history of craftsmanship, so architectural education just meant learning Western architecture. I found if I wanted to do things that related to local life and tradition, I had to teach myself or learn from a non-professional teacher, an amateur teacher.”

利兹克建筑奖是建筑专业的最高荣誉,有着建筑界的奥斯卡之称。王澍是第 37位荣获普利兹克建筑奖的建筑师,但是他既不看重名利,也无心炫耀。奖 项刚颁布时,王澍正准备度假,突如其来的获奖让他迅速获得国际关注。这 位48岁的建筑师说道:“拿到这个奖,既出乎意料,又让我有些许失落。”在普利兹克 建筑奖的历任获奖者中,王澍年纪比较轻,没有设计过国外的项目,自称为“建筑师中 的异类”,有出乎意料的感觉很正常,可是失落感又从何谈起?他解释道:“本来打算暂 时放下工作室的事情,多陪陪11岁的儿子。在这之前已经开始拒接新项目了,想要休息 一下。但是等我知道获奖消息的时候,我就知道没戏了。”

中国正处于高速发展时期,很多现代化建筑仿佛在一夜间出现。 王澍以安静而低调的风格著称,每次只接一两个项目,倾向于设计小 型项目而不是地标性建筑。

王澍生于新疆乌鲁木齐,成长在北京,上世纪80年代毕业于南京 工学院建筑系(东南大学前身)。在他看来,大学课程是和生活脱节 的。他回忆道:“上大学的时候,建筑是传统技术的同义词,与现代理 念无关。由于中国古代只有工匠没有建筑师,建筑教育实际上研究的 是西方建筑。如果想让作品更加贴近现实生活,更接地气,就得自学 或者拜非科班出身的老师为师。”

 Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

Wang received his Master’s degree in 1988 (he also later earned a PhD from Tongji University) and spent much of the following decade with local craftsmen, travelling into the countryside to remote villages and learning about traditional building techniques that he would later incorporate into his own projects.

Then in 1997 Wang established Amateur Architecture Studio in Hangzhou together with his wife Lu Wenyu. The studio quickly became known for using traditional motifs and materials such as bamboo and wood, as well as recycled bricks and reclaimed roofing tiles. Wang has always been sensitive to China’s rapid building cycle – many of his early projects have since been demolished.

“I think the Chinese only believe in one thing and that is change,” Wang says. “When you see buildings being demolished, what are you to think about architecture? [When they demolished my buildings], I felt pity, sometimes a bit angry. But because it happened so often I finally came to think of it as reality. Architecture in China is not something permanent – it is temporary.”

1988年,王澍获得了硕士学位——后来他从同济大学获得博士 学位——接下来的十年中,他大部分时间都和当地工匠待在一起,走 遍遥远的村落,掌握了传统的建造技术,对建筑材料和建造方法信手 拈来,并融入他自己的项目当中。

1997年,王澍和妻子陆文宇在杭州开办了业余建筑工作室。该 工作室采用了传统的主题和建筑材料,包括竹子、木头和回收的旧砖 瓦,很快就引起了关注。王澍一直对建筑行业的发展速度持保留态 度,他的很多早期项目已经被拆掉了。

王澍说:“我想中国人只相信一件事情,那就是改变。看到建筑 被拆掉的时候,你是什么心情?我感到遗憾,有时候简直无可奈何。 类似的事情反复出现,最后我不得不接受这个事实。在中国,建筑不 是属于可以永恒的东西,而是暂时的。”

 Five Scattered Houses, Ningbo

Five Scattered Houses, Ningbo

Wang’s practice first shot into the international limelight with a project that commented on this sense of impermanence. At the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale, his studio presented The Tiled Garden Pavilion, a structure made of 66,000 recycled tiles recovered from demolition sites.

By that time Wang had already made a name for himself in China. His studio broke onto the scene with the Wenzheng College Library at Suzhou University (1999-2000), a project influenced by traditional methods of Suzhou gardening. Buildings located between mountain and water are not supposed to be prominent, so Wang placed nearly half of the library underground. He also designed it with its users – the readers – in mind: “The pavilion-like building in the water – the poetry and philosophy reading room of the library – is from the Chinese literati point of view in a position where man and nature are balanced,” he explains.

The Vertical Courtyard Apartments (2002-2007) in Hangzhou also integrate traditional Chinese motifs, referencing historic lane and courtyard homes. Wang grew up in a traditional courtyard home in Beijing and has long argued for the protection of heritage buildings. But, he says, he also wants to look ahead. “I want people to rethink our past. I talk about the past, but at the same time, I talk about the future.”

2006年,王澍携作品《瓦园》参加威尼斯双年展,该作品由 66,000块拆下来的旧瓦片组成,引起了建筑界对当下中国城市问题 的关注。

在此之前,王澍在国内已经成名了。他的业余建筑工作室于 1999年至2000年间为苏州大学设计了文正图书馆,这也是王澍的 第一个重要作品。在这个作品中,他“离经叛道”的思想开始走向实 践——由山走到水,和主体建筑相比,四个散落的小建筑尺度明显较 小。水中还有一座亭子般的房子,是“诗歌与哲学”阅览室——对环境 的密切关注成为贯穿王澍建筑哲学的核心。如何让建筑自然地存在 于“山”和“水”之间而不显得突兀,这是他设计时思考的问题。2004 年,王澍凭该作品获得中国建筑艺术奖。

杭州的“垂直院宅—钱江时代高层住宅群”(2002- 2007)是王澍设计的唯一一个商业项目。它采用了中国传统 主题,参考了四合院和老弄堂的设计风格。王澍在北京的四 合院里长大,一直倡导保护历史建筑。但是他说自己也会朝 前看。“希望大家能够对传统有新的认识。更重要的是,在保 护传统的同时,如何能让传统继续有生气地活着。”

 Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

With the Vertical Courtyard project, Wang makes a traditional typology contemporary, turning the quadrangle on its side and creating double-height courtyards on every floor. “Every family has a courtyard and a roof,” Wang explains. “And even though the building is 100 metres tall, it still maintains the feeling of living only two floors high.”

Other projects from that period include The Ceramic House (2003-2006) in Jinhua and Five Scattered Houses (2003-2006) in Ningbo. Neither of these includes residential houses, but Wang insists that all of his designs are house-like. “In Chinese tradition, there is only one prototype – a house: our house is a house, our palace is a house, our temple is a house, our school is a house.  Even our police station is a house. Everything is a house. It’s quite different from the Western system. A house is a small place you live in and get the basic feeling of your existence. So I use this concept to design all my buildings. I even design a huge museum similar to the feeling of a house.”

Professional architecture, according to Wang, is too concerned with the building itself and not its inhabitants and how they actually live, how they feel.

王澍打算从中国人原本的生活经验出发设计这个住宅 项目。他解释道:“每家有一个很深的阳台,或者说是院子, 院子里有浮土,可以种植很高的植物。尽管完工后的建筑有 100米高,还是能让住在里面的人回到记忆中生活的两层楼 的时代。”

其他代表项目包括金华的“瓷屋”(2003-2006)和宁波 的“五散房”(2003-2006)。这些作品都不是住宅,但是王 澍认为他的所有设计都是以房子为原型的。他说:“就中国传 统来说,建筑原型只有一种,那就是房子:家是房子,宫殿是 房子,庙是房子,学校是房子,甚至连警察局都是房子。一切皆 是房子,这与西方传统相去甚远。房子是面积不大的地方,能 够居住,让人有基本的存在感。所以我利用这一概念设计所有 建筑,甚至设计了一座看上去很像房子的大型博物馆。”

 Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou

From the start he has aimed to build to human scale, respecting the surrounding environment and using sustainable approaches – long before the concept became a catch phrase in marketing schemes. “Sustainability is very important now, especially in China because it developed too fast. In just 30 years, they almost finished the job for 300 years,” he jokes.

But, he adds, in a more serious tone, the most significant challenge in a country racing toward the new is changing the public’s mindset. “If you [build sustainably] on a small scale project, it’s not difficult in China because you can get materials everywhere. But if you want to do huge buildings in this way, it’s very difficult. Usually people can’t accept it because they want new things. They can’t accept old materials.”

At the China Academy of Art’s Xiangshan Campus (2002-2007), a project comprising 21 buildings spread over 52 hectares, Wang mixed sustainable building practices and technologies with traditional construction and design methods. Over two million tiles recovered from demolished houses were used for the campus roofs. When combined with concrete, the recycled tiles became an effective form of insulation. A repository of memories, the reused materials fuse a lived history into contemporary construction.

在王澍看来,专业建筑过于关注建筑物本身,对居住者 的生活方式和感觉的关注度不够。从一开始,王澍就决心设计 尊重大自然、散发着人性、采取环保措施的建筑——那时候环 保还远没有成为营销方案中的流行语。他打趣道:“可持续发 展的概念现在很火,尤其是在中国,因为中国的发展速度实在 太快了。三十年里产生的建筑作品的数量,是西方三百年时间 才能产生的。”

但是,他严肃地补充道,对一个飞速奔向现代化的国家来 说,最重要的挑战是如何改变民众的心态。“在中国,建造一 个小规模的环保项目并不难,因为建筑材料很容易找,但是建 造可持续发展的大型项目很困难。人们通常不愿意接受旧的 材料,他们想要新东西。”

2002至2007年间设计的位于杭州转塘的中国美术学 院象山校区是王澍最著名的代表作之一。校区中共有21座建 筑,占地逾52公顷。王澍将环保技术与传统的建造和设计方 法相结合,大量运用了瓦爿墙工艺,回收来的旧砖瓦就超过两 百万片。这些旧砖瓦和混凝土不仅有效地起到了隔热作用,还 为现代化的建筑注入了凝重的历史感。

 Ningbo History Museum, Ningbo

Ningbo History Museum, Ningbo

Similarly, the Ningbo History Museum (2003-2008) used over two million bricks, stones and tiles salvaged from neighbourhoods razed to make way for new developments. 

Wang compares his creative process to that of a traditional Chinese painter. He studies the setting, lets the design appear in his mind, sketches, chooses materials and then gives the construction workers some flexibility to reinterpret his vision and add their own techniques. He welcomes collaboration, extending the creative process from the architecture studio onto the construction site, and taking on very few new projects so that he has time to visit and see the building unfold. As such, his projects are often able to respond to the environmental conditions or spontaneous changes that occur throughout the process of design and construction.

The approach also allows him to stay grounded at a time when everything in China seems to be moving faster and faster and there is a lot of pressure to perform. “This pressure is not for me,” he says. “I don’t care just about making money, so I can insist on my own way. If a few clients follow me, it’s enough.”

宁波历史博物馆(2003-2008)也运用了瓦爿墙工艺,使 用的超过两百万块废砖瓦片都来自为新兴建筑腾出空间而被 拆毁的老村落。

王澍认为自己的创作过程和国画家的创作过程非常像。先是研究周边环境,在头脑中形成设计图,然后绘制成素描 稿,选择建筑材料,赋予建筑工人一定的自主权,他们可以将 自己的技术融入设计中,灵活地体现他的想法。他很支持合 作,将创意过程从建筑工作室延伸到工地。王澍每年只接一 两个项目,将创意和质量的重要性放在数量之上。他设计的 作品通常能够呼应周围的环境,应对设计和建造过程中发生 的变化。

 Ningbo History Museum, Ningbo

Ningbo History Museum, Ningbo

Keeping an independent vision is very important for young architects, Wang says, particularly in this global age. And for him, this means keeping it simple.

“Nowadays, many people can say one thing and do something else. I’m very simple: I say something, I do it. What I say and what I do is the same. It’s very important. I’m not influenced by big powers. I just keep my independence.”

这一设计理念使得他能够在快速发展的大背景下保持特 立独行的方式。他说:“我并没有感受到很大的压力。经济利 益对我的吸引力不是很大,所以我可以坚持做自己。只要有几 个客户认可我,就足够了。”

王澍表示,保持独到的视角对于年轻建筑师来说非常重 要,尤其是在这样一个全球化时代。对他来说,这意味着保 持简单。他说:“现如今,很多人说一套,做一套。我很简单, 怎么说,就怎么做,说了就要做到。我很看重这一点。权势影 响不了我,我只是保持独立。”

This story appeared in LP - Luxury Properties with additional reporting from Dionne Bel

 

Soo K Chan: Creative Control

Soo K Chan: Creative Control