Zhang Kes / standardarchitecture
01 May 2013

"We are not bound to that which we already know."  

The buildings by standardarchitecture are supposed to fit into the landscape like the visitor centre in Niyang.  

Zhang Kes' career also started with a park. In 2001 the Harvard graduate won a contest for designing a grass verge along Peking's renovated city wall and established “standardarchitecture,” an office that he now manages together with several partners.“The name is supposed to convey neutrality,” says Zhang. Instead of show architecture he wants buildings that organically fit into their environment. In the Tibetan Yalutsangpo Canyon he therefore built a marina and a visitor centre, whose striking forms imitate the dramatic landscape. For the material, he used locally hewn stone.“That was an attempt to create an architecture that conveys the feeling of growing out of the landscape,” Zhang explains. At the same time, the 41-year-old experiments with bold urban construction concepts. In 2011, for example, he tried to simulate how public life in Peking would change if the ring roads were transformed into huge conveyor belts. It was less a matter of realistic chances of implementation than of the constant attempt to question the known.“Sometimes one has to dream,” says Zhang, “because then we realise that we are not bound to what we already know.”

With so much creativity it is no wonder that representatives of the young generation of Chinese architecture meanwhile are in demand abroad. For the Canadian city of Toronto, for example, Ma Yansong's “MAD Architects” designed two 170 and 150 m high residential towers, with such sensuous curves that the local residents gave them the nickname “Marilyn Monroe”. And for Taichung in Taiwan the Peking-based architects designed a congress centre with delicate folds, like an origami sculpture. Popularity is not a matter of chance. The problems for which China's architects are developing solutions, after all, are of global significance.“In the end we want architecture and urban planning that resolve the conflict between nature and urban congestion,” says Ma.“That is of course a very complex system - but that is our goal.”
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