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gooood Interview NO.18 introduces Zhang Lei. More: AZL Architects on gooood.
出品人：向玲 Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：向玲，武晨曦，陈诺嘉，鹿璐 Editor: Xiang Ling, Wu Chenxi, Chen Nuojia, Lu Lu
▼视频 Video （全文深度采访见下方文字。视频为4分钟精华版，建议选择蓝光1080p观看。）
gooood x Zhang Lei 张雷
Making a general review of your projects and practices, we would like to know if there is a constant form and what is your opinion of form?
What I pursue is not form. I want our projects to have no constant style. They should have their own characteristics that could reach people’s heart. Temperament is the core character of good architecture. It should have a distinctive feature and the details are critical. I hope that my design could remain its purity under the leading requirements of commercial building. It is a precious character which is scarce in this impetuous society.
▼张雷部分作品，some projects of Zhang Lei
What is your design concept?
Architecture design is a process of problem solving and it is better to be simple. More than 10 years ago I put forward the idea of basic architecture, encouraging architects to study from architecture without architects. We should solve complex design problems in a direct way that hits home. In the saying of the recent popular words is not being affectation, or being smart and appropriate in practice. On the other hand, I don’t think originality is that important as people advocating. A good design should respect the common sense and former experience.
Besides, we hope our projects could have charisma as well as romantic atmosphere. A good architecture, in my point of view, should including the characteristics of coolness, fun and loveliness. Many architects or designers are chasing for a cool project, which could be easily achieved. However, when involving in fun and loveliness, things would be more challenging. Coolness is just the appearance which could not last long, while fun and loveliness are the inner character of life. They bring people back to nature and build up closer relationship between them and architecture.
▼张雷代表作 – 混凝土缝之宅，Master Project – Concrete Slit House ©Iwan Baan
▼张雷代表作 – CIPEA四号住宅，Master Project – CIPEA 4# House ©姚力 Yao Li
What is the major type of your ongoing project? What is the structure and system of your studio? And what would be the future development?
Our office mainly focus on cultural projects, large-scale urban development, industrial park and resort or renovation projects that related to countryside reviving. The projects are in various scales from experimental small house to city complex.
The studio runs in a partnership and I take the initiative for most projects. Design principals and project managers are responsible for the design process, working with the design team composed by architects and assistants. The scale of the office would be controlled in 80 to 100 people. I hope that my studio could develop simultaneously in both academic and professional ways.
▼文化项目 – 南京大学博物馆，Cultural Project – Museum of Nanjing University
▼文化项目 – 南京美术馆新馆，Cultural Project – New Nanjing Art Museum
▼文化项目 – 福州阳光城登云艺术中心，Cultural Project – Dengyun Art Center
▼大型城市项目 – 龙湖金融中心三区C4-06地块，Large-scale City Project – Zhengdong New District Longhu CBD C4-06
▼乡村项目 – 云夕汤山酒店，Rural Project – Yunxi Tangshan Hotel
In your early works, there reveals a contrast between the purity of surface and the expressive sense of interior. How did you handle this？ And the indigenous and regional character apparently reveals in the latest works, will you introduce some of your reflections and conclusions in architecture design?
Existence reveals a relationship of internal and external. There exists dual character in each object. The more romantic it looks, the more painful it leaves behind. Furthermore, the things of simplicity must have its complex parts of which is unknown. To make the surface batter, you need a richness of internal as a base. And that contradiction relation is what the design trying to reveal properly. The temperament of purity is superficial while the complicated needs, the comfort of objects, and the ceremony of the spirit stays behind. Besides, you have to think about in which structure would make the form and the technical requirements feasible, plus the material selection. We would like to integrate the interior richness with the exterior purity and to find a better way of expressing this complicated relationship.
▼早期作品 – 国家遗传工程小鼠资源库办公与实验楼，外观纯粹。Early works – Office and Experiment Building for the National Genetic Engineering Mouse Repository, which appearance is pure.
I am not considering rationality and locality in particular. My point is to solve the problem in the simplest and the most efficient way. While to remain this, is to basing on local conditions. And only by knowing better the local environment, the surroundings and the available sources, can we find the simplest and the most direct way to solve the complex problems.
You have had many rural practices, so what is your opinion of this trend of rural constructions? What is the opportunity and threat? What should be the role of architects?
The best part in the rural is that you could get to know better the relationship of the architecture and people. This merely happens in the big cities, where architectures are seen as production tools. Besides, you will find the appropriate way in construction. These two points above are very important for the principle of architecture. The sustainable development is defined by the value. A good value leads your way further. Architects who spend most of their lives in the city would have a limited understanding of the rural places. Plus there is little restriction in the rural projects; architects are more like making their own fun from the project and leave the outcome far from the real needs. Rural place is the last space for us to cherish, thus, only by combining high technology and individuals who love the countryside together, could we reach a better outcome.
▼先锋云夕图书馆，在乡村可以更深地体会人与建筑的关系以及合理的建造方式（点击这里查看更多）Yunxi Librairie Avant-Garde, have deeper understand of intimate relationship between people and architecture while using reasonable construction method (click HERE to view more) ©（左）胡军 Hu Jun,（右）姚力 Yao Li
▼南京老门东先锋书店骏惠书屋，保留原本富有特色的建造方式，Nanjing Librairie Avant-Garde, the impressive construction style is remained ©贾方 Jia Fang
Please introduce us some of your guest house projects. Projects like this are more easily to get the feedbacks, so what is your understanding of this kind?
In the postgraduate teaching, I am always imparting the idea of “learning from the architecture built without architects”. For me, heading for the rural places is to participate in the process of rural revival and perform things practical and valuable. I implemented some projects in Daijiashan village, Tonglu, including the guesthouses and helped to bring in the Nanjing Xianfeng Bookstore. Moreover, we transferred the house, which was provided by the local authorities for us, into Yunxi Daijiashan Local Art Hotel. Soon after that, Daijiashan village has changed its character from an unknown faraway village into a good a good example of the rural revival. Many villagers were willing to start their own business of guesthouse since then. By the leading work of architects, and with the combination of the talents, the building technology and the locality, the migrant villagers are coming back home. In such a deep mountain village, the vitality and dynamic is rising. The four years’ project in Tonglu made us understood better of the guesthouse practices. The recognition of “the temperament of purity, the outstanding charm and the romantic flavor” is also coming from the guesthouse practices we implemented in rural places. The rural boutique hotels are becoming our main case studies. The story of Tonglu is unfinished, and it is on its way to be a legend.
▼民宿项目 – 云夕戴家山乡土艺术酒店，Guest house – Daijiashan Local Art Hotel ©姚力 Yao Li
▼民宿项目 – 云夕小熊堡，Guest house – Yunxi Xiaoxiongbao ©（上）姚力 Yao Li,（下）侯博文 Hou Bowen
You have mentioned above the idea of “we should learn from the architecture without architect”, so what if the process of industrialization in China equals to that in the western countries, is it still necessary to learn in this way, or would the emphasis changes?
There is no direct relation between this idea and the process of industrialization. To learn from the architecture without architect is a better way of understanding the relationship of people and the architecture, and could help us better in understanding the constructions and then persist the attitude of basing on local conditions. This is the regression of the principle of architecture and the core content of architecture that I have always been advocating.
Do you think city, as a place, is not suit for architecture study when comparing to the rural places?
I actually not usually think about such huge and serious problems. For me, each project has a different conditions and different challenges to face. To design is to solve problems, which in urban places, the problems are the creations and transformations under a high density and the commercial society; while in rural places, those become respecting the nature. I don’t believe the architects who do worse in the urban will do better in the rural places, and vice versa.
▼因地制宜的设计 – 云夕深澳里书局，Design responding to different conditions – Shenaoli Library ©姚力 Yao Li
▼因地制宜的设计 – W住宅，Design responding to different conditions – W House ©侯博文 Hou Bowen
▼因地制宜的设计 – 郑东新区龙湖金融中心外环C3-11地块酒店公寓，Design responding to different conditions – Zhengdong New District Longhu CBD C3-11 Service Apartment Project
Many of your practices have challenged 45-day’s of fast construction system, and they are all impressive. What makes you confident in this system and how to coordinate the communication with management?
The way we are working and the way of my self-problem-solving is direct, for which we could have the quick response of each problem involved. The way to succeed in the quick design is to make appropriate decisions and to save more time in the design process. We don’t have a node stock since each project has its appropriate materials or construction methods. Therefore, there is no standard answer.
What is your understanding of building skin and how do you choose the material for it?
The skins help architecture in a holistic way and contribute to its expression. The temperament of purity that we are chasing for calls a high requirement on skins. As for the architecture, the skin is the part that has little influence on its functions and it should necessarily in accordance with the internal property. We tend to choose the simple and efficient materials. The less materials we use, the better it would be.
▼上饶市城市规划展示馆，博物馆和档案馆，木格栅表皮形成纯净统一的效果。Shangrao Urban Planning Exhibition Pavilion, Museum and Archive, pure and united appearance made of wooden louvers
You devoted to architecture design for years, so what makes you excited in this field?
You will never know what comes on the other day, and you have to always facing different challenges and always on the way to solve them. Each of your days is different.
How do you usually spend your day?
I arrive at my office around 9 a.m. and would work until 8 p.m. in the evening without lunch. I don’t usually work late at night. I don’t have much interest. Half of my time is on business trips, site trips and project presentations.
Which kind of the clients is your favorite?
Three points as evaluation for clients: value, taste, and execution. The kind with right value, good taste, and efficient execution is the good client. Good client should devote to the sustainable projects instead of the short-term interest.
What do architecture mean to you?
Architecture is my lover. It is charming and it stimulate my power of life.
▼事务所一层材料库，material library on the 1st floor
▼事务所一层模型间，model workshop on the 1st floor
▼事务所三楼会议室，conference room on the 3rd floor
▼张雷老师在指导设计工作，Zhang Lei supervising design works