A bosom friend afar brings distant land near. The Oversea album shares the lives of Chinese living abroad with all. The No.18 episode is about Bai Li who studied and work in Paris, France.
Why going abroad?
The contemporary world is still dominated by the western modern civilization. Studying abroad gives me an experience to get close to the western society to understand its rules and its background culture. I think only if we deeply know these, we can then create a Chinese modern civilization that is proper for the situation of China.
What impressed you the most when you are abroad?
Those middle-age or old French people with the high cultural quality and artist atmosphere, they are the best generation of the western modern society, who have knowledge, culture and wealth. They keep a young vitality and show a free esprit. They make me see a state of life and a standard of success, which could be achieved in a healthy modern society.
What do you miss most about China?
Although Europe has a better environment, what I miss mostly is the way of Chinese quotidian life, convenient and lively. The vivid life represents a strong vitality of Chinese people.
Will you come back? Why?
Yes, I will. The reason lies in two aspects. For my architectural creation, I hope to find a way to make modern architecture that will be proper for China and also carry on with the traditional culture. According to my observation and understanding of western society, I think to develop and expend Chinese culture could compensate for some of the weakness of western civilization and find for the whole human world a better model to develop and live. So I wish to return to China for better understand its traditional culture. For my life, I like more Chinese style, just cannot make myself to wholly accept the western way of life. Perhaps someone will say that now China is not as well as Europe, in China we do have more chance, but we also have more problems. I think that’s why we must return to China. Our country needs us to build and create to change all these, for ourselves, also for the younger generation.
Is it more distinct to view China in a different environment after going aboard? Any thought?
What I know about China that is different from before happened when I realized some western problems. Compared with western modern civilization, I think Chinese culture has a greater vitality. Chinese civilization focuses more “human” himself, emphasizes self-cultivating and the rise of one’s moral. There is an old Chinese saying “self-cultivating; family-regulating; state-ordering; then the land great governed”. We can see that “human” self is the most important. However, western civilization makes things abstract. It’s true that democracy and law are good, but for “man”, they are external. In the times religious faith missing, if western world maintains a developed material civilization only with those abstract things, I think it’s a little dangerous. In esthetic aspect, Chinese traditional esthetics exceeds the level of art to emphasize internal and transcended moral. This is a quite clear standard. However, most of western esthetics still stays on the artist level, emphasizing the sensory.
That’s why today for the standard of western esthetics, confusion appears, so for architecture. “Human” is life controlled by reason. We need self-cultivating to exceed animality. This is what Chinese traditional thought tells us. Though in our times Chinese traditional culture is having a disruption, we need to make it continued and expand it, for our nation’s “Renaissance”, and also for finding a more intelligent way out for the whole world.
what is your favorite artist? What is the influence?
In my architectural creation, I am quite influenced buy Le Corbusier. This influence lies in three aspects. First of all should be REASON. That is to say the logicality of architecture design, which raises the designing of a building on the superorganic abstract level and emphasizes the abstract roles of different function, the logic of their combination and their hierarchy. According to Kant, the human civilization goes to the lightness with the guide of reason. Architecture solves problems of human society with reason. Reason shows the wisdom of architecture. If we lose reason when designing architecture, we lose the rule of game and the standard of the judgment. Secondly is FREEDOM. Many people think that rationalism means rigidity (honestly, a lot of bad rationalism architectural works have encouraged this misunderstanding). In fact Le Corbusier’s esprit is always chasing freedom and artist expression. No matter the five principles of modern architecture or his works as Villa Savoye, Ronchamp Church and etc. make a clear expression for this point. However, this freedom should be controlled by reason. There is no absolute freedom in human civilization. Absolute freedom means wildness and ignorance. Thirdly is SPACE. Luxuriant space should be made by simple elements. To consider the human feelings in space is humanistic concern of architects. These three points are what I am always chasing in my works. Tadao Ando, Louis Kahn and Alberto Campo Baeza are the architects that I like very much besides Le Corbusier.
I like also Chinese painting and classic gardens of Jiangnan. They are works of Chinese ancient literati. I see a height of esthetic, the beauty of nature. I see also a traditional state of life that is integrated into nature and its reason, in Chinese we say “Tao”. Great image without form, Chinese architecture should not just chase an ostentatious form to get a sensory stimuli, it should integrate modestly itself into the environment for a kind of harmony. This is also what I will pursuit in my architectural creation.
What amazing character do your works have?
I think my work could show the esprit of Le Corbusier: to respect rigorously rational order; to express freedom with reason; to create luxuriant space with simple and regular elements. In addition, I pay quite attention to construction. That’s because when I was 23 years old, I had the chance to build two works under the direction of my professor Mr. LIU Lili. Then for all my school projects, I pursuit their ideal effect of construction. Architecture has the abstract aspect and the material aspect, I am always looking for a balance between them. However, all these are just for the current stage and remain on the level of “method”. For the level of thought, I think I will search in the Chinese culture and philosophy, that’s what we call “TAO”, that’s my faith and my way in the future.
When did you start to surf on gooood? Any suggestions? Thanks : )
That’s after I began my study in Paris. When I found in China there is a design website quite international, I am quite excited. I can also see a lot of new information about Chinese design. I think this website has professional background knowledge and lots of original ideas. I hope that gooood could well stand in Chinese design environment and keep the international style, grow up together with Chinese young designers.
W O R K
Felicitation Prize for the Graduation Project of ENSA Paris Belleville
ENSA Paris Belleville Studio Laurent Salomon（school project, 2013）
In the southeast of Paris, a tower 300m high is designed to echo the Eiffel tower and become the landmark of south Paris, that’s its urban significance. Meanwhile, the tower itself is a city. Its function is a university, containing a library, several classrooms, lecture halls and conference halls, canteens, administration and researchers’ offices and school housing.
The tower adapt the typology created by Campo Baeza, squared plan, four core-tubes on the four corners, which form a vertical frame with the horizontal technical tubes appearing every 50m in the vertical direction. Those regular volumes, such as housing and offices, are put on the edges of the squared plan to enclosing a central court space. These central court spaces are “sky plazas” facing different directions. The singular volumes, as lecture halls, canteens and classrooms, are hanged in “sky plaza” to form a perfect combination with regular elements.
In this vertical city, continuity of space is expressed in the highest level. There is not one floor blocking the continued vertical space. An open circulation system is designed in this open space. They are a serial of stairs and ramps making the going up interesting. So you will find space in this tower is just like a symphony, marching and circling. In the central court facing Paris, the library’s large platforms become three repeated accents. Then, space keeps on circling to the sky.
In fact, there is a world, just in this tower.
Observation Deck of Qingdao Licun River Park
发表于 CASABELLA 12/2013（832期）—— Architects Under 30
LDG兰斯凯普（上海） 设计：2009 建成：2010 刘立立先生指导
Published on the the magazine CASABELLA 12/2013 (n832) – Architects Under 30
Landscape Design Group (Shanghai) Design:2009 Construction:2010 directed by Mr. LIU Lili
This little building challenges our common sense with its special form. In the beautiful landscape, LDG designed an interesting building to echo its environment. It has an appearance of mysterious moving shape but a natural and simple envelop. With wood decks covered, its attacking effect causing by its special form is weaken. You can stay under its ceiling when it rains and use its toilette function, or you just go up on its interesting and comfortable ramp till its roof to watch the river landscape. Then you look back the start of the ramp, you will feel this building is just like something growing up in this environment. Everything is just right.
Condorcet University Center
巴黎美丽城国立高等建筑学院 Studio Laurent Salomon课程设计（2012-2013）
ENSA Paris Belleville Studio Laurent Salomon（school project, 2012-2013）
As university building syntheses, this project contains a conference center, a library, a research center, an administration center and a school restaurant. It’s also about the combination between regular elements and singular elements. Another important issue lies in how to make urban space into the building to create luxuriant interior public space.
This building is composed morphologically by a horizontal volume and a box. In the horizontal part, four conference halls are arranged one by one. A volume of school restaurant facing the city terminates this part. The exit of subway station is also put in this horizontal volume, so a sunken square is formed. In the box the library, space with a certain degree freedom, is combined with regular elements, offices of researchers and administration. Public space is created in this box. A serial of 4.5m large ramps shuttled back and forth to connect different floors.
The section of this box tells how to make natural light and garden into interior space. In the library, a huge wall separate book zone and reading space to give a greatest freedom to reading space, satisfying needs of individual reading and collective reading. A serial of continued stairs serves as circulation system and are shown to the city by a large window with urban scale.
Paris Condorcet University
巴黎美丽城国立高等建筑学院 Studio Laurent Salomon课程设计（2011-2012）
ENSA Paris Belleville Studio Laurent Salomon（school project, 2011-2012）
The site of Condorcet University is located in the north suburban of Paris. This site has a linear shape, 1km long from north to south and 100m large from east to west. The scale has an important urban signification to Paris and the linear shape can organize the urban morphology of the Paris suburban.
The concept of this project is “urban campus”, school buildings are combined with housing to emphasize the miscibility. To give the site the largest vitality, two parallel lines are designed, containing all those regular and repeated elements as classrooms and housing, covering the whole length of site, defining the campus space. School housing is superposed on school buildings. Lecture halls, as singular elements, take their release from volumes of school buildings. Laboratories, more free than lecture halls, are put in the open space of campus. The circulation system is independent from the main volume, facing the city to create the communication of space and make it exposed to the city. All the other programs, such as library, conference centre, restaurant, administration and research center are all put in one building on the south of site to give the campus open space a largest freedom.
工作单位：Atelier Salomon Architectes（Paris）, Atelier LI（founded in Shanghai），Landscape Design Group（Shanghai）
When: 2011 to now
Who: LI Bai
From: Jiangsu Yancheng
School: Paris Belleville Architecture School (ENSA Paris Belleville), Tongji University
Office: Atelier Salomon Architectes（Paris）, Atelier LI（founded in Shanghai），Landscape Design Group（Shanghai）