01 June 2014

ADAPTATION architecture and change in China

Cha'er Hutong 8
standardarchitecture 标准营造

Location: No.8 Cha'er Hutong, Dashilar, Beijing
Program: Art School
Area: 160 ㎡
Structural System: Concrete, Brick and Wood
Design: June 2013-June 2014
Construction: June 1st - September 15th 2014
Design Team: Zhang Ke, Zhang Minqming, Ao Ikegami, Huang Tanyu, Fang Shujun


By intuition, it seems there are two levels to adaptation: one physical and one non-physical. In the non-physical sense it means, at least to me, adapting your ideas to a place and make it work within it-by relating to its traditional construction method, weather, landscape or whatever material available. [Unlike a car that you drive and park there, the building basically grows out of it, adapts to what belongs to that place]. I call this non-physical, but in a way it's half physical... And most of our projects fit in this understanding, making them different in YangShuo,Suzhou,Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Tibet or Chengdu. They adapt to the place and local building traditions, but depart from contemporary perspectives. The second aspect, the physical, happens when the building is there and it starts to change its program, or changes due to natural disasters[like earthquakes making it partially collapse, in need for repair]or other type of change.

从直觉上来讲,应变有两个层面的意义:—个是物理层面的,一个是概念层面上的。在概念层面,至少对我来说,它意味着你的思路和想法要适应一个地方,使之可行,而这是通过统筹传统建造技术,气候,景观或当地普遍运用的材料实现的。 (这不像你停一辆车在那里,它(建筑)更像是从地里长出来的,适应所在地的属性)。我把这个叫做概念上的,但其实可以说它是半概念的…我们的项目v大多数都可以用这种概念来解读,这也是为什么它们会因所在地不同而不同,比如说阳朔,苏州,杭州,上海,北京,西藏或成都。它们适应所在地和当地的建造传统,但是以当代的角度出发。第二个物理层面的,即“形式可见的”的层面发生在当建筑已建成,它随之开始发生变化,功能空间的适应或是因自然灾害而发生的变化(比如说地震造成的部分坍塌,需要修复)等类型的适应和变化。

As an architect,I think we could be more actively adapting. This is more relevant for me-the adaptation of ideas to our current environment.


It is true: Confucianism is about adaptation. I forgot about this, about how you can manage a balance between yourself and the world. Adaptation is not just about the physical. It is about keeping a balance on your life, and society. Maybe then you can generate an impact on the society due to your personal effort, while at the same time keeping your existence.


[Adaptation] It's an interesting metaphor for architects, probably depending if you actively changed or struggled with this cultural, social or building environment. Then you develop certain strengths and become more resilient, active. That is why offices are always progressing; I can feel that in our office from the beginning until now, we are constantly adapting.


Should a recognizable form represent a culture? That's my question. Or should it be subtler? Should we adapt our buildings, in a more humble way, or should we adapt the culture itself, to the need for worldwide popular interest? The question is of course what this popular interest is based on. I'm not giving an answer. For me, it is about contemporary architecture.


As an architect, I think we could be more actively adapting. this is more relevant for me-the adaptation of ideas to our current environment.


Niyang River visitor center Tibet
尼洋河游客接待站 西藏

standardarchitecture 标准营造
Zhang Ke

Zhaoyang Architects
Zhao yang

Complementing the splendid location on Tibet's Niyang River architecture offices standardarchitecture and Zhaoyang Architects collaborated in 2009 on creating a 430㎡ visitor centre. The construction of this building adopted and developed the techniques of the Tibetan vernacular architecture, while using local resources. Throughout the years,this building underwent a particular change of color. For the first time, both architects explain the motives behind this particular form of architectural adaptation.


Inside the courtyard it is really beautiful, This is because of the unmistakable use of Tibetan color on the material, which at the same time is contemporary. It looks like an artist did it-an installation of sorts, it is so eye-catching. The only difficulty is the transition between outside and inside.


I had strong doubts, because in the Tibetan tradition, humble buildings are not painted in strong colors, which they only use for religious buildings. Ordinary houses are only painted white on stone.

It is so strong that when the local people go there, some start to circle the building. They obviously think it is a religious building, and it is not. I'm not kidding, it is serious: the impact of the color is really strong.


They are the same building. Maybe next year we paint it again, inside.

Because the space is very geometric, when you enter it, it is completely abstract. I don't think it makes a lot of sense to just look at this carved, void and solid space. This is a tourist center, so you need something else, like an experience.

 I went there, looked at the building, and to experiment I bought a local pigment. It is mineral and we mixed it with architectural glue, and applied that on plywood board, We put these plywood boards against the wall to see how to make the transition from space to space. Both the client and me where on site, thought it looked nice, and just did it.


I would say it is artificial, making this artificial experience stronger by adding color. We could not do this in any other place because we do not have this kind of vibrant sunshine. Especially when it hits on color, it's quite magical.


I was pretty sad for this building to be painted white, but looking back, I was already at another stage of my life, and grateful to whatever has happened.

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