Standardarchitecture, Beijing, China
01 December 2006

Standardarchitecture, founded in 1999 in New York, is a professional partnership formed by a group of international young designers engaged in practices of architecture, landscape architecture, interior, and industrial design.

domus:Why name the studio"Standardarchitecture"?
Zhang Ke:We like this name. On one hand, it is a neutral word, and doesn't imply anything physical; on the other hand, we chose "standardard" and "architecture" as a single word to indicate that we focus more on the nature of architecture. In the past, we called the construction team "Standard Factoty". Thus, at this juncture, we would like to pay more attention to construction and new discoveries in the process of it and try to figure out how to build contemporary architecture in the most essential way. Therefore, although most of our projects are not important to the market, they are all very interesting.

domus:What is your individual working method?
Zhang Ke:We try to immerse ourselves in an open environment of inspiration. Before designing, we survey the project in a liberal designig, we survey the project in a liberal way, discussing the social context behind it. There may also occur some construction innovations. Evety time a project starts, we always feel at a loss; we don't want to repeat ourselves. This is the biggest difficulty at the beginning of a project. However, we have confidence that if we view things from the most basic perspectives, we can have professional results, and a little differently. Take the restoration of a hotel for example: we would ask why the guests stay in a hotel. Do they need a room for a sleep, or a space for communication? Sometimes we may ignore things that are obvious, but when we focus on what is most necessary and most superfluous, all the basic questions, we can get the most essential conclusion.
Every generation of architects would have encountered nearly the same challenges. The essential issues of constructing a dwelling today is close to 3,000 years ago, but if you resort to diverse solutions, the conclusions will be different... which does not mean one is essentially distinguished from another.
We pursue precision, reliability, and attention to detail.

domus:How does the studio stick to the original concepts, the integration and the reaction to the site?
Zhang Ke:In our opinion, it is vital to maintain original concepts. laeally, supposing all the details are nearly the same as the original concepts, the desired final results inspire vision and emotions in people when using this space. It might be the first step, or the first doorknob they grasp. In each of our projects, which brings us big problems, and we have to admit that it is a kind of an idealistic tendency. Therefore, the "struggle for freedom" may vividly repersent our process.
Another characteristic is integration. It covers wider areas: from urban planning to interior design, and landscape design. The project we won in Yangshuo was a planning competition. The client offered us a small site to construct a building and what we did was to divide the building into several streets, and designed the interiors as well as the landscapes.
The third is construction supervision. The ideal situation would be to go to the site twice a week, so we choose our projects catefully, no matter how big or how small.

domus:Do you have preferred materials?
Zhang Ke:We prefer original materials. We are testiong a new material on an already built building; the material is made by pressing wood boards and plexiglas together to detemine how to use them as both structure and layer.

domus:Why do you use urban fabric as the starting point of design?
Zhang Ke:We discuss the urban fabric more in a perspective of landscape, not in sociological terms, because we cannot imagine changing society through architecture, which makes our usage of material different from the Utopian ideage. Achitects can only develop a more harmonious environment for human and nature. 
Considering the landscape, we would consider the city and its surroundings or the inner or public contractions of space as a landscape in the broadest sense. But our regard for landscape does not mean we ultimately engage in the urban fabric, since what we desire is a clear relationship: perhaps engagement, detachment, or even confrontation. At this moment we engage in urban practices, but we also aim to make contributions to the modern culture of a future China.

Wuhan CRIand French-Chinese Art Centre
The site of the art center is located across the street from the Wuchang Tanhualin historic area, less than 2 kilometers away from the historic Huanghelou tower on the Yangtzi River. The expectation of the building was an important public space for the city and a monument for both the past and the ongoing transtormation of the city. The fact that many famous Chinese intellectuals lived in the Tanhualin area actoss the street inspired us. We were interested in testing the possibilities of building something out of the ancient Chinses intellectual practice of ink and water. The art centre was conceived as an urban container, within which art objects, events, acts, concepts and activities flourish. In this case the container is made out of intuitive images of ink-and-water.

While the site conditions also take part in the formation of spaces: since the site is cut into halves by an unexpected urban infrastructure (a flood pipeline), the 30-meter-wide outdoor space became the central courtyard for spatial organization, around it seat the east and west exhibition halls and the floating bridge linking the two parts. In the 80-meter-long concrete bridge, the ink-water stroke texture coincides with the necessary structural elements for the 5.5-meter-high concrete hollow beam. This becomes an interesting moment when an image merges seamlessly with a structure.
标准营造 1999年是由张轲、张弘、Claudia Taborda等多位年轻设计师,创建于纽约,是一家专业从事建筑设计、景观与城市设计、室内设计及产品设计的合伙人事务所。




张轲:最重要的是对原始概念的贯彻,理想地假设所有的细节与原始的concept一致,最终的结果是希望人们在使用这个空间时,给人的视觉、精神和情感带来最强烈的触动。可能是你第一脚的踏步,第一手抓到的门把手。这也给我们带来很大难题,我们从来没有重复使用我们自己的节点,不得不承认这是一种理想主义的倾向。如果用一个词来形容我们的过程的状态,就是struggle for the freedom。


从景观的视角出发,我们会更多地考虑将城市与周边环境和建筑的或室内或公共空间看成是一个更广义landscape。我们对景观的关心,并不代表最终我们engage in 城市engage,有可能是detached,有可能是confrontation。




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