Stanislaus Fung, “Recent Projects in Rural China”


Good evening, everyone. My chair, Anita [inaudible],,
could not be here tonight. So it’s given to me to have
this great honor and pleasure of introducing my
colleague, Stanislaus Fung, for tonight’s lecture. An associate
professor and director of the MPhil-PhD
program in the School of Architecture at the Chinese
University of Hong Kong. Stanislaus Fung is a researcher
who has written extensively on Chinese landscape
architecture, the architecture in both traditional and
contemporary contexts. He is perhaps best known for
his close reading of Yuanye, which I will refer to in
a moment, a 17th century Chinese treatise on gardens, and
for his analysis of the gardens of Suzhou, that realign the
experience of spatial depth and scale to the sensibilities
of Chinese painting. But through his
exemplary scholarship, and as an editor of a number
of prominent international journals, including
Fabrications, of which he was a
co-founder, Stan has been a leading voice
in framing and reframing the more often than not
happily allied disciplines of architecture and landscape. At the GSD, Stan
has been conducting a very nearly oversubscribed,
and in any case, highly successful
seminar entitled Topology and Imagination
between Chinese Landscapes and Architecture, in
which he has been working with the students to
furnish an expanded vocabulary for
understanding design challenges in both rural
and urban settings. This semester,
Stan was graciously agreed to provide a guest
lecturer in my own course on the history of landscape,
in which he presented his evolving ideas about Chinese
gardens in terms of topology from the work of [inaudible]. That’s going beyond more
familiar and perhaps insufficient ideas of
static composition, with which these settings are
more typically seen and perhaps misleadingly understood. And on that note, I wish
just say a word or two about what I perceive to be
Stan’s consistent ambition to clarify our vision of the
complex cultural artifact that is the garden and
landscape more generally. I’ve sometimes imagined
when reading his work, though his engaging texts do
not leave the mind much chance nor provide any great incentive
to wander here and there as it were. But as I was saying,
I’ve sometimes wondered whether Stan would
have made an expert optometrist. I see him operating the
phoropter, that surreal looking examination room instrument,
the mask-like array of lenses, and dials, and
graduated scales, by and through which the
optometrist determines the refractive error of
the eye, and prescribes corrective glasses. You know the script– which one is better, 1, 2. Why does this
image come to mind? Do I need something stronger
than corrective lenses? Well there is a passage from
Jean Denis Attiret’s oft cited A Particular Account of the
Emperor of Chinese Gardens Near Piken of 1752, of which
the French painter a Jesuit missionary writes of
his hosts, their eyes are so accustomed to
their own architecture that they have very
little taste for ours. But then he allows this of
his own change perspective, quote, “since my
residence in China, my eyes and tastes are
grown a little Chinese. where do you begin
with that one. It is by turns and all at
once, lovely, remarkable, and troubling.” Stan is indeed one of our most
clear sighted guides to what is an important contribution
to recovering landscape, edited by James Corner, he refers to
as cross cultural mutuality. Mutuality would seem to suggest
not that we can see or must need see things alike, but
that we understand why we see the same things differently. The question of sameness
is indeed a difficult one, and best left for
another occasion. For now, consider Stan’s
writings on the Yuanye, the 17th century treatise
and garden design, which was the
first to articulate the notion of borrowing views. What Stan does in his
careful analysis of this and other texts insights
is to correct our view by asking us to keep
in sight, his words, the exempt clarity
of Chinese tradition. One that does not
involve the opposition of subject and object. Imagine a phoropter
according to that design. In his essay, Here and
There in the Yuanye, Stan developed a model of
seeing, again, his word, by reference to
another 17th century text, a short account
of the scenery of the imperial capital. And the contextual components–
and by contextual we mean in here essentially, poetic,
pictorial, philosophical– which is the components of
what he calls a mutual regard. With refractive precision– and
Stan is allergic to cliche– he then elaborates
how we see together with the resulting
view understood as taking place quote, “between
viewing subjects, but also between persons, and
landscapes, elements.” He is ever refining our vision,
he is our leading landscape optometrist. Before inviting Stan to the
podium to present his talk tonight, Recent
Projects in Rural China, please allow me finally to
mention the following upcoming events at the GSD at
this what I know to be very busy time of the semester. Next Monday, November
19, please join us for the Aga Khan program
lecture by architect and academic, Yara Sharif. Her talk will take place
in Stubbins at noon. And then after a
Thanksgiving break, the GSD welcomes
artists and filmmaker, Shirin Neshat to give a public
lecture on Tuesday, November 27 at 6:30 here in Piper. And later that
same week, we will host a lecture by the Swiss
architecture firm, HHF. In their talk will
take place on Thursday, November 29 at 12 in
Stubbins Auditorium. So with those advance
overstatements, please join me in welcoming tonight
our dear colleague, Stan Fung. [applause] Ladies and gentlemen,
good evening. Thank you very much,
Ed, for a very kind elaborate introduction. The presentation I am
making this evening can be explained very plainly
as a two part structure. In the first part,
I’m recapitulating the work I have recently done on
the analysis of Suzhou gardens. The gist of this
work is basically an attempt to realign
the experience of traditional
paintings in China with our experience
of the garden is that we can still
visit in Suzhou. So these gardens in Suzhou are
World Heritage listed sites. And the idea is that
about 100 years ago we imported photography and
orthogonal projections to the study of these places,
we changed the perception of the places. And the task is to
see to what extent we can still see these
places without presuming stable three dimensional depth. In the second part, I
am going to test an idea that I developed earlier
this year for a presentation in Kuala Lumpur. And it is about how the
structure of perception that we find in the new
reading of the Suzhou Garden might resonate with
new design look by the youngest
generation of designers in architecture in China. In the work that I
did in the elective this semester in the
GSD, we attempted to do a more wide ranging
exploration than I am able to present this evening. Here is a list of the
designers and speakers we hosted in the course. The idea of the
course is basically that if traditional things
have a modern and contemporary viability in design
culture, topology is a key idea,
because it allows us to think about the ideas in
terms of upscaling and changing arrangements without
changing the basic regularity of the ideas. You see that we are not
restricting ourselves to Hong Kong and China. We invited also, a firm
of architects from Sydney. And the idea here is that
it’s a cultural thing we are dealing with, and not
a matter of citizenship or nationality. In other words, the uptake of
the ideas of Chinese tradition is not primarily
restricted to people who are of Chinese
nationality or birth. And so there could be in other
places, relative work touching upon ideas that we are working
with in the Chinese context. So in what follows because of
the limitation of time tonight, I’m basically speaking about the
work of two designers in China, one in Shanghai and one
in southwestern China. And they belong to a
generation born in the 1980s. And I should begin
by recapitulating what they inherited from the
people who went before them in the last 40 years. The story about
Chinese design can be simplified a great deal,
and probably down to four proper names. So four people. Of the people born
in the ’50s, we remember [inaudible]
especially for attempting to think about what is
possible in southwestern China. Where the habits of construction
or culture is not what we would normally expect in
terms of contemporary design culture with the
predictability of drawings being executed with a
certain degree of precision. So he pioneered a way
of working with one to one mockups on site. Working with people who
are not skilled builders. And to think about how
to achieve a quality that might easily be lost because of
the vagaries of construction. This semester, you
might have heard [inaudible] in the presentation
of the options studio. And he is the second person who
I find relevant for the work that we’re discussing
this evening. [inaudible] basically
is best known for a way of handling the
conception of the construction process, where we don’t assume
that every step will be done correctly, and we
use the second step to cover the mistakes
of the first step, and we used the third
step to cover the mistakes of the second step. So that eventually without
presuming that everything would be right, each step covers
the previous mistakes, and the end result
is much better than one might possibly
achieve if one were sanguine about the accuracy. The third person that I
put to the list, this kind of abbreviated genealogy,
is the firm in Shanghai called Atelier Deshaus. [inaudible] gave a presentation
here a couple of years ago. This firm is an epochal firm
for introducing to China the close relationship
between structure and form which had been separated
in the beaux-arts received by Chinese designers. So this lesson was
developed in Switzerland about 100 years ago. But in China, in the
way that education unfolded, the knowledge of
structures and the knowledge of design when their own way. So it would be
typical where people thought about the
shapes of things first and then tried
to do everything with a slab and column
construction afterwards. And Atelier Deshaus is notable
for presenting, for example, in the Long Museum in
Shanghai, a one to one correspondence between
form and force. And this is a lesson
crucial to a lot of the work we see in Japan
and in Switzerland. And it recently
emerged in China. So if you think
about in this way, these people from
the architecture side each made a
breakthrough to address the conditions of construction. And on the side of
landscape architecture, we know very well that the work
of [inaudible] to landscape, who has been teaching
here as well. And this work opened
up the possibility of contemporary
practice in China by aligning it to the public
interests of the cities and the management of
cities, most notably in water management,
flooding, and so on. So for designers born
in the ’80s, when they came to the practice
of their professions, these, to my mind, are the
previous breakthroughs that people inherited. And I’m going to follow this
by adding an extra layer. The claim is basically that
when people born in the ’80s do their first projects, they
didn’t have much opportunity in the first year
big Chinese cities because their professions
were already saturated them, so they started building
in rural conditions. The rural conditions were
even more challenging than one might expect in
the first year cities, because industrialization
hasn’t reached there into a full fledged way
that we imagine in Hong Kong or in Boston. So the bigger story
is that when people dealt with the rural conditions,
somehow, walking backwards, they developed
something that touched upon the reading of
the traditional gardens unintentionally. So that’s the overall arc
of the argument tonight. So the first part
of the presentation is something that I
have already developed for the students in [inaudible]
core course this semester. And the idea is to go through
this part fairly quickly, and then to develop a connection
to the contemporary practice. The main interest I have in
reading the Suzhou Gardens, again, is to develop a sense
of the aperspectival effects. This is to say, although we
may use photographs and plan elevations and sections, we
want to get an understanding reading these images against
the grain, so to speak. And to obtain from them, a
sense of the aperspectival sensibility that is more
germane to the interests of traditional Chinese painting. The study that I developed in
Hong Kong with the research funding from the
University Grants Council dealt with four gardens, two
large ones and two small ones in Suzhou, and the idea would be
that aperspectival effects are obtained in different
ways, depending on whether you have a larger
garden or a smaller place. Aperspectival effects
is a general term. And we found that it doesn’t
gain traction with the images very directly. And in order for
a general interest like that to be effective
in close readings, four particular terms listed
at the bottom of this slide would be what we
specifically examine. Scalar ambiguity, or
the relative scaling of human bodies, or rocks,
or trees, or buildings, is something that
we encounter, and we miss when we deal with
single shots of photography. And so when we take multiple
shots from different angles, the scalar ambiguity is
most readily revealed. And this is not something
that we would have encountered 40 years ago when the
price of photography was a lot higher than
what it is nowadays with our mobile phones,
but it is available now. And in a minute, you will
see how it plays out. In Panofsky’s Perspective
as Symbolic Form, there is a discussion
of the development of linear perspective in
the European tradition. And we are told that,
for a long period, the depiction of the floor
surface in a checkered pattern presented the image-makers
with a lot of difficulty. And eventually, after
more than 150 years, this became stabilized in
what we understand now, where the consistency
of spatial depth can be given a stable
datum in the depiction of the horizontal ground plane. So if we flip the argument
around, in the case of China, the occlusion of
the ground surface, or a surface of a body of
water, may present to us an opportunity for playing with
the development of perspective, and thwarting it, so to speak. This is to say that it is
thought at least really talking backwards. It would be more proper to say
that the consideration never engaged the situation, and
we are really projecting the Panofsky story to this. But nevertheless,
it provides a key to the reading of the
gardens that I’m developing. In the Panofsky story,
a unified optical field is crucial to the development
of linear perspective, and collage would be a
way of thwarting that. And in what follows in the
close reading of the gardens, we will pay special attention
to the fragmentation of the optical field as
another tool for developing aperspectival effects. And finally, also running
against the grain, against linear
perspective, which offers to describe for us the
consistency of spatial depth in the three dimensions. The instability of
spatial depth is something that we specifically attend
to in the close reading of the gardens. So the first case
I’m presenting is a garden, the largest
in Suzhou right now, is called Atlas Administration,
and it is popularly known as the Garden of
the Humble Administrator. It acquired this name
in the 16th century. And for about 150 years or
so, it didn’t have this name. And when the name was
reapplied in the 19th century, it also referred to slightly
different boundaries. And it had two major
renovations in modern times. 1950s, 1960s. And at first, I
thought I was dealing with spatial compression. And in the event, I
settled on the instability of spatial depth as
the key to the reading. I’m going to show photographs
as indexical images. By that, I mean that we
don’t take the photographs too literally. The analogy is a bit like the
index at the back of a book. The entries of the index point
you to a page in the book, and so you will not confuse
the index with the book. But nonetheless,
it’s a convenience. So the slides that
I’m presenting are more or less
like index entries at the back of a
book pointing you to what you could look
for and encounter. It may be within
reason to expect that, because of different
climates and different lighting conditions, when
you go there, you might see something different. And so one of the jobs
of the presentation will be to explain
to you the mechanisms by which the differences
might be accounted for. I take this opportunity to thank
the many, many students who went with me to these
gardens and bore the difficulty of waking
up at 6:30 in the morning to get into these places so that
we can take these photographs without the crowds. I should explain that
they took the photographs. I don’t take photographs. And the idea is that visuality
is a socialized thing. And if I say something,
and they are not able to come up
with the photographs that I can recognize as
communicative of the message that I had given them, I
will forget about the point. And if it couldn’t be shared,
and reasonably quickly, I would say that
that is not a point. And so everything that I’m
showing now more or less is what has been filtered
through their work, basically. I’m only going to focus on the
central part of the garden. And we approach the central
part nowadays from the east. There was a old access
point from the south. And because millions
of people are going to this place each
year, the southern entry– which is basically
a narrow alley– is no longer practical. So now we are entering
from the east. And when you enter
from the east, around 10 o’clock
in the direction, you see a pavilion on
top of a small mound. This pavilion has a
wall opening on a wall facing the eastern side. And on the left-hand
side is a view of this framed view looking
to the east on a sunny day, in the afternoon. The sun is behind us in
the west, and everything we see in the frame– sorry. Let’s see. So everything we see here
is lit in the sunlight. If we go there in the
morning, it will be backlit. And when it’s backlit, usually,
the spatial compression is more evident. And when it is lit like this,
the space is less compressed. But in this case, you see that
there’s no ground surface. The ground surface
has been eliminated. And what we are seeing
is vertical layering within the frame. And so this is more or less
the sense of vertical layering that we would expect
from the perspective of Chinese paintings. In the mist, you see that
it’s a little bit different, because the
background is removed, and the color
desaturation introduces us a different sense of depth. The view itself is
nothing remarkable, because for 150 years,
this area of the garden was a vegetable patch. So when it was
renovated in the 1950s, there was not much
to go on with. So there’s no reason
for us to expect that this is what we would
call a composed view, because it really was
a vegetable patch. But nevertheless,
what we are seeing in terms of the
structural perception is consonant with
what we would expect from the traditional paintings. Not far away, we see a
pavilion with four moon gates. And these two
photographs are taken– we have a camera position
about one meter forward. On the left-hand side, the
tabletop and the bridge hide the water surface. And they bring a certain
compression to the space. And when the camera
moves forward, we see more of
the water surface, and the spatial depth has
become more pronounced. So in other words,
this morning, I was in Anita’s class
covering in her absence. And we were reading something
that said that landscape– in the traditional 17th, 18th
century sense in Europe– had this idea of
a subject standing before an expanse of ground. And in this instance,
the text says that in the Chinese tradition,
it’s about the immersion, rather than standing
apart and looking at it. So you can imagine the camera
is implying a position. And your body position changing
activates the variability in the sense of spatial depth. So it is not that the
space is objectively compressed in any
one way, but rather that your body position
engages with it. And it is a setup for
generating different effects. The same place in the
mist is like this. In November, the
color of the leaves have a quiet
intensity about them. And this eliminated the
background and color desaturation presents a
scene that is coming to you and withdrawing
at the same time. In Chinese poetry, a lot
of the sense of the poetry comes at you, withdrawing,
and lures you forward into the sense of the poetic. In Suzhou food,
in local cuisine, the flavors are not very
strong, and it draws you into the taste. Nearby, there’s a pond. It is the largest of the ponds
in Suzhou gardens nowadays. East-west, it runs
about 120 meters. In the middle is a bridge. And on the left-hand
side, the bridge is 80 meters or so from
the camera position. We notice that the bridge
is high off the surface of the water. This is quite unusual,
because the bridges are meant to be intimate
with the water surface. In this case, it’s fairly
lifted off the surface, and it overlaps with the
embankment behind it. The embankment behind the bridge
is about 40 meters behind. And when we take the
camera to the moon gate over there on
the western side, we get the right-hand
side image. Here, the bridge is 40
meters from the camera, and the embankment where we were
is 80 meters from the bridge, or something thereabout. And so you can see
that the overlap of the bridge and the embankment
releases a sense of distance being made evident or obscure. So with 120 meters, the
bridge is doing a lot of work. And when we study the
plan, the bridge is here. The first camera
position was here. 80 meters. And then the moon gate is
here, and it’s 40 meters. So that when we read
the orthogonal drawings, and read them before,
the contradictions with the experience, we realize
that the plans have stabilized at distances, and regularized
a sense of spatial depth. And when we remember in
short-term memory what we saw half an hour ago
from the other side, we then experience this
variability of the depth. So it is a bit like
listening to music. You are meant to remember
how a particular phrase was sung five minutes ago,
or two minutes ago. And when the refrain
happens, there is a variation in the
articulation of to sound. So in this case,
we’ve get a taste of the short-term
memory that is involved in the experience of the place. On the south side of
the pond, looking north, there is a pavilion
on top of a rockery. And from this angle, with
a section cut like that, you see that you necessarily
see the water, especially in winter. And when you go to the pavilion
on top of the rockery and look south, the stone balustrade
overlaps with the embankment to the self. All the water is hidden,
especially when you sit down inside the pavilion. And so there is a contraction
going on with the space. So the objective distance
between the two buildings is about 30 meters. And the body position changing
from one side to the other release a different
experience of spatial depth. So this is the topic
I mentioned earlier about the instability
of spatial depth. So what seems to have happened
is that, when the survey drawings were published– and they were published
without related levels– what seems to have
been regularized is the sense of spatial depth. And what the photographs
are reinstating and pointing towards is the
instability of the depth. We see in the rockery to the
south of the big building we saw in the previous
slide, a foreigner. The foreigner is standing
on top of the rockery and seems very small. And so if you think about
the height of this walking gallery, and the height of the
person, the scale of the roof behind the person,
something seems to be slightly out of sorts. So we made an experiment
with a student walking into the rockery and
everyone taking photographs. And when she is in there,
she is just this size. So this reminds us of the
experience of paintings, where the human body is shown
at different scales, and seems large and small
and inconsistently regulated. And so what seems
to be happening is that the scale of the
rocks, the scale of the plants, the scale of the person– especially the half-hidden
body of the person– are all ambiguous. And they do not provide
a stable scalar reference for each other. And so when you
walk in there, there is just a slightly
dizzy part of it. In a different example,
in the lingering garden, we have a similar experience. We have a student walking in. So in planned, distance
away from the camera has not increased all
that much, and would not justify the impression that the
body scale has been reduced. So we have a point of
reference with a text on Chinese aesthetics. And in this text, it glosses
the terms yin and yang. Yin and yang traditionally
are sunny and shady sides of a mountain. And so it is fairly concrete. And particularly,
the text is pointing to counterparts and
counterpoints, light and dark. And then you have reciprocals. So this would be a more precise
take on the yin and yang aspect that we are looking at. So the take-home point would
be the far brought near. So the far and the near
are not binary oppositions. But depending on the body
position and the movement of the body, the
far and the near are mutually
interpenetrated, mutually involved in the experience. So there is another
quotation from Martin Seel, a German philosopher
who has a book called The Aesthetics of Appearance,
which has also been translated recently into Chinese. Says that things–
zigzag bridge, et cetera– would
not be appearances. And arguing from
his text, he says, appearances reveal
themselves on these features. So when we take
the photographs, we are not just documenting
the features of the design. We are thinking about how there
would be a play of appearances. That landscape design involves
a play of appearances. So this is a line of thinking
that is germane to what Christoph [inaudible] has been
recently interested in, which is to think about the return of
aesthetics to landscape design. The second example
I’m bringing to you is the much smaller garden. And it doesn’t have 120
meters of pond to play with. And so we couldn’t look for
bridges, and embankments, and playing with distances like
that, because we don’t have such a length to play with. So there is a
pond, much smaller. And it’s made much smaller
by the primary divisions of the site. The site is already longer
on the north, south, and narrower on the east-west. And we further reduce
the east-west dimension by these major divisions in
the north-south direction. So the pond is much
more narrow as a result. So the question would be, having
made the thing more narrow, how do you avoid the impression
that it’s really very small? So we find framed
views reminiscent of the kind of views we
saw in the previous garden. Here, the occlusion
of the ground surface because the height of
the bottom line of the frame is hiding a lot of behind it. And everything behind–
in the sun, again– is now brought much
closer to the frame. On the southeastern
side of the site, there is a sequence of
buildings and courtyards. And on the northernmost
building in this sequence, moving from the
building westwards, there is this corridor. And this corridor
would take us directly to the area of the central pond. And when we take a sequence of
shots moving roughly a meter forward at any one
time, the pavilion that we see at the
far distance seem to be moving away from
us as we walk towards it. So the increasing distance as
you move towards the pavilion has to do with how the sectional
treatment of the related levels are allowing more or
less a view of the water. As you move closer to the
pavilion on the opposite side, you see more and
more of the water, and the distance dilates. So there seems to be
kind of a dancing game. You dance towards
the other person, but the other person is
dancing moving away from you. There is a mirror
at the far end. And it’s pretending
that it is not attached very close to the wall. It’s pretending that the
pavilion is open on all sides, and it’s a slight illusory part. And behind this wall is
the part of the garden that currently, you
find a version of it in the Metropolitan
Museum in New York. So if we go to the court– this is the part that has been
represented in the Metropolitan Museum– and we look east through
this wall opening, we have a similar effect. When we move towards
the frame, the building on the opposite side seem
to be moving away from us. So this would be the opening
from which we have just emerged in the previous
corridor sequence. So this is consistent
with the experience we had from the bigger garden,
where an objective distance of 30 meters could be given
differently from each side, either by hiding the water
or showing the water. On the north side
of the pond, there is a building with two doorways. The smaller doorway
on the right-hand side leads to a larger space. The larger doorway
on the left-hand side leads to a smaller place. In other words, the
sizing of the doorway is not structurally necessary,
and could be varied at will. And the idea is that,
in a small garden, where you want to tease people about
how big or small the place really is, the confounding of
the expectation of the sizing of the next space by varying
the dimensions of the door frame is a device that you could use. So eventually, what we
would develop into the idea of the counter-experience– that is, we don’t just
have landscape experience. We have landscape
counter-experience. Counter-experience
is what you have when your expectations
are confounded. When each time you
come to the place, you have a different
thing than what you have expected or remembered. And this is a term from
the work of a French writer by the name of Jean-Luc Marion,
a senior phenomenological philosopher from Paris. So we take the
right-hand doorway, and we approach the doorway. For about three meters,
there’s no reason for us to change our expectation
of what is behind– how big that space we
are walking towards. And until you
reached the portal, you realize that that
space is much bigger than you thought it would be. Looking from the north towards
the south side of the pond, the positioning of a
flowerbed at this height hides all the water of
the pond, and brings the building on the opposite
side much closer to you. And when we go to
the southern side and take a photograph
looking towards the north, this is what we see. So the device is much similar
to what we had experienced in the larger garden. So this is the flowerbed that
we were previously looking at. In other words, in this kind of
small-scale landscape design, a sectional variation
in level, a half a meter would be sufficient to
generate some variability in the spatial depth. It’s typical for people
to take photographs with their camera plane
parallel to a wall surface. And in this instance,
a student of mine pointed the camera at
the corners of rooms. And then we are made
much more evident– aware of the sizing
of the heights, and how the views framed
by these unequal frames are discontinuous. So mostly, the
lines in one frame would not continue into
the frame of the other one. In other words, we
have a collage effect. And this is what we
mentioned earlier when the optical field
becomes fragmented, and this is a clear
refusal of the expectation of linear perspective. So the lines are not
continuous across. There are also
incidental frames where they point in
different directions, and inconsistent to the
one-point perspective, and so on. For a small garden,
there are a lot of opportunities for
being inside somewhere and looking outside. And so we are considering
this in some detail. So in the southeastern
part of the garden, in the architectural sequence
of buildings and courtyards, it so happens that
this piece of wood is hiding the ground
surface on the outside. And the higher panel work
on the lattice windows is also hiding a lot
of what is outside. And so the spatial depth is
refused a horizontal surface as a datum. And the grillwork–
the latticework– is further dividing
up the sense of it. And the sense of depth between
this side and that side are not consistent. So a similar example. Now, there are also instances
where people are using glass instead of the more traditional
material for window openings, which would be paper,
or mother of pearl. But in this case, the sense
of the rockery and the wall on the outside also
provides a spatial boundary that is not just one layer. We pay attention to how these
horizontal lines don’t line up on both sides. And they produce
an inconsistency of the sense of scaling,
both for the inside and for the outside. For a small garden, if you go
in quickly and see everything, you are more assured
of how small it is. And so there is a kind of
tease delaying your recognition of how small it is. We are now in the
architectural sequence on the southeast on
the northernmost part, and we are making an
exit towards the north. This is an alternative to
the exit towards the west that we had just seen in
the corridor sequence. In the corridor sequence
towards the west, you have a direct
visual penetration to the far pavilion across
the other side of the pond. And here, the opposite
technique is being used. You don’t have the visual
access to the other side, and your view is blocked
right away by a bamboo plant and by the rockery. And as you approach
to exit, your view of how large this courtyard
you are walking into is is constantly frustrated. The roof of the covered walkway
is lower than the doorway that you have just walked
out of, so there is– in terms of height–
a compression. And frontally, the bamboo
plant and the rockery is doing a lot to basically
make you guess and wait for it. Eventually, you see this
looking towards the north. And the footprint
of all the elements on the left and the right,
and the irregularity of the footprint, basically is
playing a hide-and-seek trick with you. And when we turn 180
degrees to look south again, the same rockery is hiding the
exit where we had just emerged. And the whole space
seems, in depth, different to the view in
the opposite direction. The building that we had just
emerged from is two floors– double height– and
would have presented a double-height whitewash
wall to the courtyard. The higher the wall that
fronts onto the courtyard, the smaller would be the
scaling sense of the courtyard. So we would best
attempt to thwart the double-height
expression of the wall. And so this covered walkway,
the presentation of the plants, quite a number of
elements conspiring to hide the double-height wall. So this would be the bamboo
where we had encountered, and behind that is the
exit that we had just used. So this is breaking
down the scale of the whole thing
in four or five ways, now looking from the
north towards the south. A similar thing
happened in the pond when we walked out of
the corridor sequence. This plant is doing a
lot to hide everything on the southern side. And the little pine tree is
doing a lot to hide this part, and including the
flowerbed where we were, and the one-story
building behind it. On the northern
side of the pond, there’s a
double-height building. And the walking gallery is
being put next to the water so that you don’t have
a double-height element next to the water, which would
have made the pond appear much smaller. In other words,
hiding and revealing are working side
by side to obscure the scaling of the thing. The family grew in
terms of occupants, and so they needed more
density in their accommodation. But at the same time,
they didn’t get more land, and the pond couldn’t
be expanded anymore. So the idea of hiding
things becomes the way of dealing with
the change of scale and increasing the density. In other words, if there is
composition in any sense, it is as dependent
on subtraction as it is on the placement of
things in a static relationship to each other. This is a very small bridge. This is one of the
smallest in Suzhou. Barely two meters. And at this angle,
looking at the longest diagonal across the pond, the
two bridges hide the corners. So we read the plans for
obscuring the scaling, and refusing the
scaling provided by the stable eaves
lines, and the ridge lines of the buildings. So in this view, looking
north, these elements are quite important. Otherwise, if you imagine a
place without these elements, the buildings would have
a very strong presence next to the pond. I said a moment ago that
we don’t have 120 meters to play with, and so we
must find an alternative way to engage distances. What we do find are
multiple frames. The frame of the camera
with the building here. A small courtyard. Very, very small,
with a frame set quite high, and quite broadly. And then behind it, another
doorway with a frame, and behind it, the frame of
the perforated wall opening. So over a distance of no more
than four or five meters, we have four layers going on. And increasing the
number of layers is the way of getting around
the otherwise small distance that we would have. Here we have a building where we
saw the two doors in this room. And we are going to the
back courtyard on the north and shooting all the
ways towards the south through several layers. And the frames
usually present to us not a complete rock,
or a complete tree, or a complete
person, but usually, a fragment of each of
any of these things. And a fragmenting of
the landscape elements and the people is
also a scaling thing, because you don’t
see a complete thing to serve as a reference
with anything else. Here, the multiple frame
is hiding all the water in the pond. And it’s crucial for these
to be at this kind of height, and that to be at
that kind of height, because this building is
really south of the pond. And because we are
hiding the water, the building on the opposite
side of the pond in the south is brought much closer to you. If we move the camera
to the southern side, south of that water
edge building, we see on the back
wall a opening, and we are seeing now
through this portal behind where our camera was. In this view as well,
the opposite side is brought much closer to
you as the water surface is hidden from your view. So in a small garden,
we don’t have 120 meters of open air sight line. But what we do have is
a sight line consisting of inside-outside, inside
and outside, alternative, but with a visual link
all the way through. And this is the way we handle
the lack of the 120 meters. There are also
opportunities where you get a sense that, behind the
wall, there is another place. But it’s a figure on a figure. And it is not
presenting anything to be read in any stable way. We are pointing
the camera to focus on the grillwork
of the first layer. But you do get a sense of
the outside of the outside. And in a place where you
might not have a view, the possibility
of gaining a sense of the outside of
the outside is a way of releasing the
otherwise oppressiveness of the smallness of the space. The last topic in this
sequence is about curvature. And in landscape architecture,
when we deal with water bodies, we often have the issue of the
curvature of the embankment. The smaller the pond, the
more evident the curvature. If we want to make
the pond appear bigger than it is, we must allow the
curvature of the embankment to appear more broadly,
gentle, spread out, than otherwise it would be as
a small circle, or something like that. So we are looking at how
the rockery hits the water. So we would read
from the building, the whitewash walls are
meeting at a roughly 90 degrees in this corner. We have to hide that. And then, we position
the plant there, and in front, we have a rockery. In front, we have a bridge. So that with several
layers, we are making as inconspicuous as
possible the orthogonal frame of, otherwise, a
water courtyard. And then, when we reach
the edge of the water here, we read this as a
fairly flat line. So instead of having the
very evident curvature of a small pond, it now
reads much more credibly as the embankment of a lake,
or something like that. So in order to
sustain this reading, we would be walking
around the pond to see how this is handled
in the different aspects. So this is still looking
to the northwest. And here, on the
southwestern corner, we have a simple arrangement
where the building and the wall are meeting, more or less, in
90 degrees as an arrangement. And where the rockery
is turning the corner, we position this plant. And on the northeastern
corner, where the architectural elements
are in 90 degrees, we position this. And we have a double-height,
whitewashed wall coming on to the pond. And so these fake
perforated openings reduce the scale of the wall. And these positions
of the plants reduce the scale of an
otherwise very strong expression of the wall. The roof over the portal where
we emerged from the corridor sequence earlier, this
roof is exaggerated, because this really is
this very minor exit. But we exaggerate the roof
because of the profile of the roof behind it. But when the roof is
supported by these columns, we find the columns
are very thin. It’s 150 millimeters. And so the visual
weight of the roof is canceled by the thinness
of the vertical supports. So I call your attention to
the gentleness of this rather flat-looking shoreline. It would be a factor
in the curvature story. So here, we are working
off a different text. And this one is a colleague
from Penn State University who was very friendly with the
Penn PhD program many years. Don Kunze is very interested
in Hitchcock’s movies. And in Hitchcock– especially
in movies like the Rear Window– there is a frame
purporting to tell you somebody is being murdered. And then when the
camera frame pulls back, you realize it is a
story within a story, and that no one is going
to be hurt, and so on. So this is, in literary
theory, called metalepsis. When the frames shift, there
is the possibility of creating, not a coherent
narrative, per say, but a story within a story. And in the extrapolation, I
talked about diegetic framing elements. So we have the double, which
is the mirrors, the story within the story,
and then traveling in time about literary
places and place names, and the contamination
of the everyday with a dream, with fiction. And these would be evoked by
place names and plaques put on various parts of the garden. So this is the list of keywords. In order to make the
analysis, we generate and we test the
effectiveness of keywords as tools for direct attention,
and to allow the analysis to gain a certain
fine-grained texture. I didn’t have the
opportunity to tell you anything about these two, but
they are the higher-order terms for thinking about
the experience that we have just
tried to evoke. Landscapes change over
time, and we should not presume that what we are
seeing in these gardens were what they
were 500 years ago. And recently, you may
remember Julian Raxworthy, his lecture here,
where he talked about the veridical
aspects of the landscape, and how maintenance was a real
issue, because plants grow. So overall, I would
say, in the experience that we are considering
in these gardens, it is not a representation
of the real, or the stability
of a composition, but that we are constantly
engaging a sense of the deja vu. You think you have seen
it before, but actually, you haven’t. It’s changed. It’s different. But we constantly subsume
the new experience under the old label. And we allow the memories
to suddenly lose focus and to start moving
into one another. And this is the
sense of the deja vu. The deja vu is
accentuated and emphasized in contemporary media because
we circulate a lot more images than would be available,
say, 100 or 200 years ago. And 100 years ago,
the deja vu would have been a very unsettling
thing, because you don’t have it all the time. But nowadays, we are
so accustomed to it that we lose sight that it
is this sense of the deja vu that we are engaging with. We tend to take it more
literally nowadays. [inaudible] amnesia is to deja
vu what structure or perception is to a sense of the loosening
hold of memory in relation to methods of making. In the work of Zhaoyang– that
I won’t have time to present to you today– a stone construction
of a wall could be done using local
rocks by local craftsmen, but where the mortar
between the stones are set back from the surface
of the wall by a few centimeters so that it looks,
from the outside, like a dry construction. And this would be
a new technique. But in a two-second
impression, everyone is willing to
attribute this new way to the old, traditional,
authentic construction. And this would be
[inaudible] amnesic. And this is the term from
the Italian philosopher Paolo Virno. He was dealing with
different kinds of memory. So in yellow, I’ve
highlighted the parts that are reading very
directly to the two cases I presented so far. There is not much
time for me to go into the different
conceptions of nostalgia, but in Harvard,
there is a scholar of Russian studies by the
name of Svetlana Boym, and who wrote a book on
the idea of nostalgia. And most of the time,
we are dealing with– in the case of the
gardens and the work that I’m about to show in
the contemporary work– the idea of
reflective nostalgia. The nostalgia is a
desire, but it is not satisfied by
presenting something that purports to you that it
is what you really desire. So it is not the same as,
let’s say, restorative nostalgia that actually
does purport to give you what you want from the past. And a lot of the
time, these landscapes that we are seeing
tease you about what you are nostalgic for, and
whether your desire can find its target. So we are moving into the
second part of the presentation. And here, we are
dealing with a hotel. I’m basically
dealing with hotels. Hotels as part of an
experiential thing. And so one of the things
that we had trouble with was that, how would the
traditional things that we discovered in the close
readings of the gardens find traction in
contemporary design? And it seems that
the terminology of the traditional
analysis would not be able to provide you
with all the keywords that you would need
to consider in order to have a contemporary
project come to be delivered. In other words, we are
dealing with a plug-in, and not with a software. A software would be a
self-contained thing that you buy and install
on your computer. It would help you do your
word processing, or whatever. But a plug-in simply
changes the effectiveness of one aspect of the operation. So I started thinking
about almost everything we have introduced so
far in terms of plug-ins. So plug-ins require you to think
about the next task in terms of an imaginative take on it. You may need an extra
plug-in to do the new job. And so when we
discuss the examples from contemporary
design, the task is to imagine what new
keywords, not new plug-ins, we would need in order
for this to gain traction. In other words, it’s not fair
to say to the traditional stuff that it should be
a software that allows you to do your
contemporary design in a self-sufficient package. The contemporary designers would
need to imagine something else. And as it turns out,
contemporary Chinese designers are really shy about tradition. They would like
to be modernists. They would like to show that
they have an originality that is entirely personal
and individual, and owes as little as
possible to anything that people might recognize as
a traditional landscape setup. So part of my work has been
to do the detailed analysis of the traditional stuff,
and to say to them, wouldn’t you admit, after
six hours or nine hours, that you’ve got something that
is resonant with the older stuff? And eventually, they
relented, and they are willing to come to
Harvard to make a presentation about what they did. So in the first example,
it’s a small hotel. These small hotels
that I’m presenting is charging three or four
times the normal hotel prices down the street. And this is very important,
because the land ownership belongs to someone else,
the original people. And they are renting
to the hotel operators in a long-term lease
of about 20 years. You build a building,
and this building will become the property of the
original owner after 20 years. So if you want to recoup
your capital investment, you have basically
20 years to do it. And so to be able to charge
the price of a Charles Hotel in Cambridge
here, but to do it in a small Chinese city in the
southwestern part of China, is a massively
desirable outcome. So one of the ways
of doing this would be that, in a small, old town
setting where the plot of land is not very generous,
the developer would be asking you to
maximize the number of rooms. So we then have,
in the new program, and the new commercial
circumstances, something that would resonate
with the small garden we have just looked at. The whole trick is about how
to make the small thing not appear so small, and that
you would charge 200 US dollars a night, or
something like that. So then, this would
be the design task, which would not be secured
either by architecture, or landscape architecture,
or interior design, but would need to have all
three things going and pushing together. And this is more or less what
we are trying to discover. The view that I’m offering
right at the beginning is the street frontage. The entry is on the
right-hand side. The datum level of
the main platform is about one meter off
the level of the street. And as a result,
the ground surface of most of the hotel
interior has been obscured. You don’t see the ground surface
once you hit the facade line. And so the spatial depth
of this part– and you’re looking beyond to see the
building behind the courtyard– the depth here is ambiguous. And this is a massive
13-meter span. It’s a two-story building
with a 13-meter span, and no obvious vertical support. And the elimination of
the vertical support allow us to enter
into this imagination that the thing is not as
solid, as heavy, as scalable as one might think. And so when we go forward
into the courtyard, now looking back
onto the street, the higher level
of the courtyard relative to the street
allows you a different sense of the spatial depth, which
was previously compressed. So on the right-hand
side would be where you had the front
counter, and you’re seeing the courtyard. The courtyard is
divided into two parts. And the footprint of the
buildings around the courtyard are quite complicated. There’s lots of different
setbacks and misalignments. And the idea would
be that, if you have a simple
rectangular courtyard, the scaling will be more
evident and consistent. And by turning away
the doors so that you don’t see all the doors
to the different rooms from the same aspect– so the scaling is starting
to unravel a little bit. The sizing of the window
openings, the suppression of the wall thickness from
the outside view, these things go towards the refusal of the
scaling elements that give you the sense of consistency. The misalignment of the
windows, the division of the window frame into the
solid fixed glass component relative to the
operable wooden part. These things start equivocating. The formwork of the concrete
was a point of difficulty. They used a very narrow strip
of wood for the formwork. And so by reducing the scaling
of the module of the formwork, people are playing with a sense
of the scale of the courtyard overall. So we are looking from the
south towards the north. And behind here, in the
alley, turning right, you will find one of
the staircases going to the second level. Generally, all the
vertical axis is hidden from view and from most angles. And so that you get a sense that
how you move around to upstairs is a bit of a mystery. And this also helps the
whole sense of the scaling, that you don’t have
everything stable. The door entry to
this room is here with the overhang cantilever
like that in the same way that you have a entry there. So as you move around, the doors
are appearing and disappearing. And this gives you
this sense that you don’t have in the Hilton
hotel with six doors all lined up in one view. Zhaoyang was a
protege of Sejima. And he graduated
from this school, and he took the unusual
decision to refuse positions in Beijing and Shanghai,
and he went to a small town. But within a few months,
he won the Rolex Award and had a building
to collaborate with Sejima in Japan. So although he went to
a very obscure city, he had the greatest
internationalization within a few months. Rolex is funding his exhibitions
in Venice, his book project, and so he is very
well supported. And one of the
comments that Sejima made when she went to this
place was about the thickness of the wall. She thought that it
could be thinner. And this might be
reducing the thickness by no more than 20 millimeters,
or something like that. But for someone with this
very fine sensibility, 20 millimeters would count. And so this would be the kind
of conversation that they have. So this is a close-up
view of the formwork. So Zhaoyang, before
he came to the GSD, worked for a number of
years with [inaudible].. And [inaudible],, as you
know, has been teaching here. And one of the things
that Zhaoyang learned from [inaudible] is the sense
of multiple scaling of the courtyards, and so on. And how to handle the
sequence of construction to hide the errors,
and things like that. So this brings me to a
rather important point that I want to make. The people born in
the ’80s very often think that they are
doing their own thing. And they have their
own firms, and they’re doing their own projects,
thank you very much. And the view that I want
to argue for is this. That the development of
design culture in China is a multi-generational problem. And the older people
born in the ’40s who had had their education
disrupted by the Cultural Revolution might contribute
one or two ideas. And in my course, as
you probably know, I invited [inaudible]. Professor [inaudible] was
someone born in the ’40s. Came at the age
of 76 to the GSD. He was somebody
educated in Russian, because that was the preferred
language of the times in China. But he self-taught
himself English, and gave his presentation
in Harvard in English. But he is really
self-taught English speaker. And he contributed the idea
that traditional guidance can be understood
topologically, and not in terms of static composition. And what we have in the
last two months here is to expand and elaborate
the idea that he had. So it is a
multi-generational thing, and each person may only
contribute a little bit. And if you have, in your
internship, or in your reading, access to the two
or three things that are crucial
to the thing, it allows people to develop
much faster in their career than they might doing
everything by themselves. In the interior, there are
certain kerning elements. So the bathtub layer
in white becomes part of this small block here. And the sizing of the
openings in different heights with the window behind
set at a higher height. These are all the
elements that we come to recognize from the
close reading of the gardens earlier on. The equivocation, the
same size of this opening with the same size now for
the doorway, these aspects are all fine-tuned. The set– the
negative joint ceiling against the wall, the
sizing of the skylight, they are all set to
express a sensibility about scaling the interior. So in other words, it’s not
that architecture and landscape, architecture and
interior design are separate disciplines that each
self-contained and autonomous. But rather, one pushes the
other, either literally, or as the back-of-your-head
sort of presence. So if we review this
second part so far, we don’t have a
high-fidelity construction culture in rural China. We have a low-fidelity
construction culture. And this is a distinction
made by Jeremy Till and very recently developed by
Michael Meredith at Princeton for his exhibition where
he aligned different houses along the lo-fi trajectory into
different kinds of approach. So if we think about what
we have done just now, in terms of the
lo-fi vocabulary, we get a list of these terms. And it would not be
possible to make this list a priori from the vantage
point of theory, but it comes out if you do
a detailed close reading. And this is what
I mean by saying that the tradition
of vocabulary, or even the analysis of
the traditional places in themselves, would not
be sufficient to drive the interests of the
contemporary projects. We needed to add extra plug-ins. So in terms of effects,
not in terms of intentions or vocabulary, the
contemporary and the old stuff, they touch up in
different locations without one trying to
commandeer the other. The next project is a hotel just
two hours outside of Shanghai. If you think about
Shanghai’s population– especially the 2% or 5% most
wealthy Shanghai residents– you will get a
fairly large number of people in the millions. And these people are time-poor,
and may like a short weekender. In summer, if you go to a
hilly area, the air is cooler. And so Moganshan is
basically the only hilly area within driving distance of a
weekender outside Shanghai. So Shanghai,
[? moganshan. ?] And so this is in a mountain setting. It doesn’t really have views. So in that respect, it’s
similar to the hotel you just looked at. This is also a hotel, and it
has very difficult property ownership issues. There was a old lady
with a vegetable patch who refused to allow the
new development to take over the site. So they basically had
to construct something to retain the possibility of
the old lady doing the veggies, and then to make sure
that the roof doesn’t drain onto her vegetables. So you have to do a
nicely-detailed gutter to handle that. In this kind of
construction, mostly, people are asked to retain the
footprint of the older buildings. Now, the fabric of
the older buildings are usually too rundown
to be rehabilitated, but the footprint is
usually quite fragmented. And so, if you want to put a
coherent program for a boutique hotel on a very
fragmented footprint that you have to follow,
it puts extra pressure on the ideas of
circulation, especially if you have to regulate public
and private functions where the people who are not
guests of the hotel also have to be accommodated
in a particular way. So we’re showing different
views to show how the site constraints– in terms
of the footprint– plays a role. And the general trajectory
of the argument is this. In this sort of development,
we don’t have a single issue driving the whole scheme. You have several factors each
pushing against the other. You would think about one
issue halfway, and then switch over your thinking
to something else, and then switch over something
to the third issue at some time later on. And so it is what I
would call devolution, like a passing on of a
baton in a relay match. And the outcome would be not
easily-readable from any one factor as a kind of decisive
cause of the results. So another issue
is that, usually, in these sorts of
projects, people are not given very
precise survey drawings. And they don’t know
where electricity cables are under the ground. And so you may build
something halfway, and then you discover
that your wall is too close to the
underground cables, or the drainage, and so on. And so you will have
to move your walls. So this begins to
build up to a sense that you could not have an
initial concept executed precisely, because
all the time, you are dealing with ad hoc
emergent constraints that you could not
have anticipated at the beginning of the project. More than half the
time, the client’s brief is also quite vague. And so they would also be free
to change their minds halfway through the project. And if you followed the American
conceptual approach to design, where you think that you have to
propose an innovative concept, and that would guarantee
the merit of the work, you would feel
terribly depressed, because everything conspires
to make you change it. And the end result
would be a matter of regret for the designer. So the issue is, if you are in
this kind of rural condition, how would you
behave as a designer so that the end result, after a
series of pushing and shoving, would retain a sense of
contingent coherence? The summary at the bottom shows
you the strategic elements that gain traction
with different aspects of the design. So with massing and program,
you think about site planning, and you think about
fragmenting, because that’s the footprint– that’s more
or less the condition given to you. You think about the internal
layout of your building. Where you think about
usages and furnishings. And you’re thinking
about programming. And so each of these issues
deal with very specific aspects of the design. Here, too, you will not find
traditional Chinese gardens or garden history giving
these terms to you. And in order for the effects to
run from one side to the other, these terms would have
to be discovered ad hoc, and then reviewed very
closely after the design to bring out these
things that happened, not necessarily in the
minds of a single person, but could be a difference
between the site architect, and the project architect,
and the boss of the firm, or something like that. So we have, on the
left-hand side, the unpredictable
and predictable stuff in a spectrum. And they are very specific. Hotel management and
public accessibility, something like that. So the idea would be
that not everything is unstable and unpredictable,
but there is a spectrum. And you can use different
aspects of your design, listed on this side, to
deal with different sets of these relatively-predictable
or unpredictable considerations. This is also something that
we cannot learn directly by studying garden history
or landscape history. But we have to come up with a
openness to the contingencies. So the traditional
set of considerations is always saying, we
do what is appropriate for the contingencies. But in modern life, the
contingencies change a lot. So we have to recalibrate
these relationships to sustain the logic of
the contingent coherence of the design. So sectionally, if we
think about circulation and programming, you
get diagrams like this. I should think that this
was a post-facto drawing, because when we were
discussing the project, I thought that they didn’t
have a drawing for this. And it seems that they were
just chopping and changing. And then in their heads,
they were playing with this. And this is something
that gains traction with the idea of
topology, because we can vary the sectional treatment
of program topologically without having to rethink
everything at every step. And so this is something
that would then resonate with traditional perspectives. I call your attention
to something like this. Three lines meeting at
right angles very precisely. This is not easy to
achieve in a rural setting. I also call your attention
to how this opening– registering like this
from the outside– gives you a very
different sense of scale. Looking from the inside
outside, the whole thing seems so much bigger. And looking from the outside
inside, it doesn’t seem so big. So this would be the
sort of surprise, or what I call counter-experience. That your experience and
expectations from the outside is contrary to what you
got from the inside. And this is something
that would resonate with the traditional sensibility
that I presented earlier. So this is how this
corner is achieved. Basically, the concrete
work would not be meeting at a corner like that, because
in the wet construction, you cannot get that
kind of accuracy. But the carpentry
work can be attained at a much higher precision. And so the carpentry
is brought in, and it is integrated with
the air conditioning vent. And then you have a metalwork
for the opening of the vent. And so you use
different material for the inherent precision,
the possible precision of the construction work to
carry the level of finish. And so you could charge
something like $200 US a night or something like that. I’m hoping that Anita would
go with me to this place next year, and I
shall be very happy if anyone else wants
to come as well. The idea is that we
think the relationship between the inside
and outside, in terms of a surprising sense
of scale, and then we immediately go to the
other smaller scale, 1 to 20, and think about
the construction. And we bounce one against the
other in the same visual field. So this is not something that
we discuss in Chinese landscape history, of changing scale
from 1 to 200 to 1 to 20. But in the practicality
of the work, if you want a certain
quality, that’s the kind of thinking
that is necessary. I should say that,
probably, this is not what the people
born in the ’80s invented. We could see this
quite evidently in [inaudible]’s’s
work, for example. The opening we looked
at was just here, and now we’re looking
at another one. There’s a huge mechanized
window opening the whole thing. And it ventilates the lobby. There is a similar precision
work with the lines meeting at a corner. There is the change of
scale between this opening and that opening
and that opening. And the rather
pronounced variation in scaling of the openings
creates a certain shift in the sense of the
interiority and exteriority. There is actually only one tree
that the windows can look upon. And there are nine
window openings in the building
looking under one tree. And the designer is
drawing the name frames around the one tree. And looking from
the different parts of the interior
at this tree, you would not have suspected
that it was only one tree, because of the framing
and the cropping of the tree. It gives you this sense
that there’s more outside. And this is consistent
with the sense of scale where, looking from
the inside outside, you get a sense
that it’s bigger. There are about 15 hotel rooms. The operator obviously want
a higher number of rooms. And from the point of view of
getting more money per night, you obviously want to think
that 20 square meters is not a very good size. And you want to think that
maybe luxury is translated in terms of floor area. But this is not possible,
because people wanted to have a higher occupancy. And so the interior
design has to take up the challenge that is already
presented on the outside. And for example, there
is only one chair. But the window sill
is designed in a way that you could sit there. So effectively,
you have two seats, but it’s reading as one chair. And if you place two chairs
there, the scale of the room would feel much smaller. And so you wouldn’t get
your $200 US that way. So in other words, the
presentation of these frames– the presentation of this
opening next to this opening, this opening next
to this one– these are all scaling devices that
would allow you your $200 US. The size of the bed, you
couldn’t do very much with. So everything else, you
have to do a lot with. The panel that is
operable for ventilation is hiding the ground
surface on the outside from different vantage points. And this is also
resonant with some of the readings we got
earlier on in the gardens. One way of making the room
seem less small and oppressive is to make sure that the walls
are expressed as backgrounds, so people don’t look at them. That means giving them
something else to look at, so that the walls would
appear backgrounded. There are various
tricks that one would engage with in this way. But generally, you would want
freestanding furniture items to be reduced in number. So otherwise, the thing
would appear too cramped. So if we look to Western
discussions about the issues that we have discovered,
Frank Lloyd Wright is well-known for thinking about
furniture as a organic unity to the architecture. And he reads it as a
background for activities. So it is not that the furniture
should be particularly be pronounced in expression,
but that it’s backgrounded. So there would be different ways
of doing the furniture attached to walls and so on that would
render them backgrounded. David Leatherbarrow
talks about fragments and says, “what
fragments are to desire, elements are to design.” And this is also resonant with
the framed views in the gardens a moment ago, where the
framed parts are fragments. Never a complete
rock, a complete tree, but fragments of the thing. So the more articulated the
fenestration to the outside, the more evocative
the desires are. So that’s more or less
the sense of the analysis that I have pursued this
semester in my course. By way of conclusion, I’d
like to make a few points. First point is about the
multi-generational effort. The development of
a design culture is not about young people born
1980s doing their own thing. There are thematics, techniques,
agenda items already discovered by the people born
in the ’50s, people born in the ’70s, et cetera. And it’s just the
part quite crucial that if they have early
access to these perspectives, their development would be
also going off in a better way. The second point is about
not Chinese design culture developing with the
introverted interests. Some of these designers
that I’m showing are interested in Barragan, or
in the work of Geoffrey Bawa, or going to see
Louis Kahn houses. In other words,
it is not that we have to be introverted looking
only to Chinese sources and sensibilities. The idea of topology was
introduced by [inaudible] in the ’80s, and
he was interested– as a person recently coming back
from the Cultural Revolution– at Western ideas, and really
being adventurous about it. The third point is
about the vocabulary. We have at least two
levels of vocabulary. Some are directing to the
macro frame of the experience. Some are directed to the
specific considerations of projects. We need to find ways
where two levels or more levels of vocabulary gain
traction against each other. The fourth point has to be
about keeping our eyes on larger agenda items. This is to say, the changes of
the structure or perception, either perspectival
or aperspectival, the relationship of exact,
anexact, or apparent precision, the topological take on
program and materiality, these are the larger
considerations that can motivate both landscape
design and architectural design. So I now research– although
we cannot refuse small, very, very detailed, specific
research projects, it would be a pity if we
lost sight of the bigger [inaudible]. The final point has to do with
the primacy of case studies. Case studies are not incidental,
cheap exercises in publicity. They give substance to
the ideas and orientation to the overall thinking
that we engage as designers. And if the history
and theory people are willing to
undertake the case studies with massive transcripts
of interviews and so on, it is a way of giving
precision to the prospects that we hold between us. Between landscape design,
architectural design, and interior design. Thank you very much. [applause] Thank you so much, Stan,
for that beautiful lecture. And you would be shocked
to learn the room rates that the Charles
Hotel now charges. It’s getting somewhat late, but
can we take one or two comments from the gallery? Any questions? Thank you for the lecture. I’m wondering if you can see
this application toward more residential or more
widely-used public, rather than just hotel spaces? There’s a part of
the presentation I didn’t have time to go into. And it is about the work of the
young landscape firm in China called Lab D+H. And this is
a firm with a branch in LA, and a branch in Seoul,
and a branch in Shenzhen. Quite diverse. But what they
recently came up with is a set of keywords in pairs. And in each pair of keywords,
something generic in landscape design– like terracing,
or land forming– is paired with another term. And usually, the second
term is something that you can’t control
all by yourself. So land forming is paired to
the creation of social spaces. Aggregating is paired to the
idea of construction quality. So construction quality
often escapes your control in the same way that the
creation of social spaces is not up to your intentions. It has to be responded
to from the other people. And then there is a
term called terracing, which is about the footprint
of the elements you put on a big landscape project. And it responds to the larger
topographical setting, which is not in your control either. So although I
didn’t get a chance to present the
larger-scale work, there’s a fundamental difference
between the larger-scale work and the architectural work
I showed in the second part. And this is like this. If you have 30 yards,
you can think about form, you can think about
configuration, specific formal arrangements. If you have more
than 300 yards, you are thinking about the
propensity of a situation. Much more abstract, and not
within easily-readable formal way, the way that small gardens
or small architectural projects and hotels can be figured. So if we want to go
beyond the hotels, there would be a
set of vocabulary, and also a task to go beyond
the easily-figured aspects that we discussed in terms of
the architectural projects. Then you would be analyzing
it in similar ways to what Jim Conner
had discussed in terms of the propensity of landscape. And that would be how
the work would proceed. OK. Stan, thank you once again
for this beautiful talk. And [inaudible]. [applause]

Tags:, ,

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *