Qi meets Zhu Xiaofeng, Design Principal at Scenic Architecture. He shares how architecture could be employed as a tool to achieve a dynamic balance among human, nature and society.
By Wang Lin
A Shanghai-native, Zhu Xiaofeng enjoyed painting and excelled at mathematics and physics during his high school years. When he needed to decide the subject of study for university, architecture was a natural choice for him, as it blends all three areas.
Xiaofeng received his bachelor degree in Architecture with distinction from Shenzhen University in 1994, and then practiced and taught at the university for three years. The opportunity came when he met the world renowned architect Rem Koolhaas on his visit to Shenzhen for the Pearl River Delta research with his Harvard team. With Koolhaas's encouragement and reference, Xiaofeng went to Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1997. At Harvard, Xiaofeng broadened his horizons through learning from world famous architects such as Herzog de Meroun, Rafael Moneo, Michael Hays and Peter Rowe. He came to realize where he should go in the broad and fascinating realm of architecture. After graduation in 1999, Xiaofeng practiced at the world renowned architecture firm, Kohn Pedersen Fox, in New York City. In 2004, Xiaofeng decided to come back China and opened his own firm, Scenic Architecture, in Shanghai.
Qi: What do you want to achieve through Scenic Architecture?
Xiaofeng: Scenic Architecture roots its design practice in contemporary China, and keeps an open attitude towards design resources from all times and places. We believe the spirit of architecture exists in how people perceive nature and living. Architecture of 21st century shall not respond only to human needs, but also act as a positive media between human and environment. It is by means of architecture have we been able to explore how space and time stimulate and absorb each other. All of these can only be realized by organizing matters like materiality, technology and form. This is what we call as "Architectural Design". With continuous efforts on practice and thoughts, we are on our way to make architecture a yearning life experience, and a carrier of both material and spirit.
Qi: What is your favorite work and why?
Xiaofeng: My favorite work is Zhujiajiao Museum of Humanities and Arts. Zhujiajiao, as the most integrally preserved authectic water-town in Shanghai, attracts an increasing number of visitors every year. This 2,300 sqm museum, located at the entry of the old town, houses paintings and other art works related to the town. We designed the museum in harmony with its surroundings, especially two 400-year-old ginkgo trees nearby.
As a milestone in our seven years of practice, this project represents our core architectual philosophy ---employ architecture as a tool to achieve a dynamic balance among human, nature and society and guide people to positively perceive and interact with the environment.
"We employ architecture as a tool to achieve a dynamic balance among human, nature and society and guide people to positively perceive and interact with the environment."
Qi: What projects are you working on?
Xiaofeng: We are trying to materialize our architectural philosophy in a broader realm of projects, which includes a low-income housing project in Nanjing, a waterfront clubhouse in Ningbo, and a museum for collection of traditional structures in Shanghai.
Qi: What are your takeaways from Qi 2011?
Xiaofeng: Qi is a dynamic venue for people from different fields to share and stimulate ideas. I met Massimo Morello, a very experienced reporter from Italy, during Qi 2011. We just met again at my office in Shanghai a week ago for his periodical coverage.
About Zhu Xiaofeng
Born in Shanghai in 1972, Xiaofeng graduated from Shenzhen University in 1994. He received a Master of Architecture degree in Harvard University in 1999. In 2004, he founded Scenic Architecture Office in Shanghai, His works have been covered by architecture media worldwide, such as Taschen, Phaidon, Domus, Area, Time+ Architecture, IW Magazine and Perspective. Xiaofeng has participated in a variety of architecture exbitions worldwide, such as the exhibition of China Design Now at London Victoria and Albert Museum in 2008 and the Chinese Contemporary Architecture Exhibition in the Netherlands Architecture Institute in 2006. View his works at http://www.scenicarchitecture.com.
About Qi GLOBAL
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