MAD architects + urbanus + liu jiakun + wang yun + zhu pei on contemporary chinese architecture
MAD architects + urbanus + liu jiakun + wang yun + zhu pei on contemporary chinese architecture MAD architects + urbanus + liu jiakun + wang yun + zhu pei on contemporary chinese architecture
oct 02, 2011

MAD architects + urbanus + liu jiakun + wang yun + zhu pei on contemporary chinese architecture

from left to right: wang yun, iu jiakun, ma yansong of MAD architects, zhu pei, fang zhenning,  and liu xiaodu of urbanus. designboom organized a conversation ‘contemporary chinese architecture from the outside in’,  on september 28th, 2011, at UCCA, the ullens center for contemporary art in beijing, china.image © designboom




on september 28th, 2011, designboom hosted the talk ‘contemporary chinese architecture from the outside in‘ at the ullens center for contemporary art (UCCA) in beijing’s 798 arts district, part of the ‘BJDW / UCCA design talks’ series during beijing design week 2011.


five of the most renowned contemporary chinese architects– ma yansong of MAD architects, pei zhu, liu jiakun, wang yun, and liu xiaodu of urbanus– joined art and architecture critic fang zhenning for the two and a half hour talk. each presented on his own work, before the floor was opened to all for a roundtable discussion and open question-and-answer period.


during the roundtable talk, the architects discussed the architectural treatment of public space, many reflecting  in some way the idea voiced by ma yansong that the dichotomy of public and private space must itself be rethought. throughout their own presentations, it was interesting to see common threads of thought across even very diverse projects, including an emphasis on experimental materials and techniques and the need for design to address social problems or constructional constraints.


the event drew several hundreds of architecture and design students, professionals, journalists, and other visitors to the auditorium of UCCA’s ex-factory space. although space was limited, everyone who attended was able to view the talk either in the auditorium or in a gallery where UCCA arranged live tele-screening.

image © designboom

as soon as we return to milan we will publish video excerpts from the talk at UCCA, as well as articles and updates on the latest  projects of these architects.

liu jiakun image © designboom

liu jiakun’s series of buildings in szechuan provence is almost complete image © designboom

liu xiaodu, one of the 3 founders of urbanus architecture studio image © designboom

the mid-hill apartments and hotel project by urbanus returns to ideals expressed in the chinese maxim: ‘hills outside hills, gardens inside gardens’ image © designboom

from left to right: ma yansong, founder of MAD architects; art and architecture critic fang zhenning; and designboom’s editor-in-chief birgit lohmann image © designboom

curated by fang zhenning, the ‘verso est’ exhibition at the MAXXI museum in rome presents an expansive look at contemporary chinese architecture visible in the above image: (rear left) panels narrating twelve themes of contemporary chinese architecture; (front center) ‘relief tent’ structure and ‘hu huishan memorial house’ video by liu jiakun, with cardboard furniture by zhang lei; (rear right) model of ‘urban tulou’ by urbanus

interior rendering of haerbin theatre by MAD architects image © designboom

wang yun image © designboom

‘plum blossom’ hotel by wang yun, in xixi wetlands park image © designboom

zhu pei image © designboom

‘black box’ cultural center and exhibition space, by zhu pei image © designboom

during the talk, as zhu pei is presenting

many young chinese architecture students were among the crowd awaiting entry into the talk, because it has been the first time that 5 well renown contemporary architects meet for  a public architecture lecture in beijing. image © designboom

architecture students look through the designboom flyers about the event as they wait on line image © designboom

— from september 26th through october 3rd, 2011, people from across the world gather in beijing, china for beijing design week and beijing international design triennial. exhibitions, conferences, workshops and lectures across the city address the theme of ‘design beijing – good design’ for the nine-day event, which looks to transform the ubiquity of ‘made in china’ to ‘designed in china’.


beijing design week is presented by the ministry of culture, ministry of education, the china federation of literary and art circles, and the municipal government of beijing, in collaboration this year with tsinghua university.

  • Soon these Chinese architects will get rid of censorship and copied products. Pass the “Made in China” to “Designed in China” and the people of Europe will have more banks than industries …. crisis is for people who set up his own petard.

    pdiasjr says:
  • so many guys

    valentina says:
  • Any video of the talk?

    Can someone confirm my impression that China is a Macho state?

    Sean says:
  • I just see this now, this group of architects is all very talented, I wish to hear all of them talk together!! thank you! it is spoken in chinese? there is video?

    danilo says:
  • is it just me or does it seem like Chinese architecture is doing infinitely more interesting things than most western design? I don’t know if it’s the need because of the population density or an openness to innovation because of the culture or laxer construction standards or something else, but some of these images, plus what I’ve come across in recent weeks, looks to be really doing something new.I hope that you really do follow up with more Chinese projects, I would look forward to it.

    Richard says:

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