gooood team interviews creative from all over the world. Your recommendations and suggestions are welcomed! gooood Interview NO.27 introduces architect Anna Heringer, founder of Studio Anna Heringer and honorary professor of the UNESCO Chair of Earthen Architecture, Building Cultures, and Sustainable Development. More：Studio Anna Heringer on gooood
出品人：向玲 Producer: Xiang Ling
特邀编辑 | 采访、撰稿：程宁馨 Interview/Text: Cheng Ningxin，编辑：李东颖 Editor: Sara Li
网站排版编辑：陈诺嘉 Website layout and editor: Chen Nuojia
The Big Data revolution is updating one industry after another, but architecture is hard to be related to data. Architecture is fundamentally rooted in humans and humans’ life. Then, how does our discipline claim its relevance in today’s age? This anxiety about the architectural career and the discipline comes from an incomplete understanding of the role of architects and the power of architecture. Responding to the confusion of the agency of architecture and architects, conversations with the unconventional architects will tell stories of the architects’ role and the life of people involved in the projects.
gooood x Anna Heringer
Anna Heringer来自奥地利和巴伐利亚交界处的小镇劳芬。在19岁的时候，她旅居孟加拉一年，跟随非政府组织Dipshikha学习可持续发展。对于Anna Heringer来说，建筑是改善生活的工具。作为一名建筑师，以及联合国教科文组织“土制建筑、建筑文化与可持续发展”的首席、荣誉教授，她专注于使用自然的建筑材料。Anna Heringer从1997年起就开始积极参与孟加拉的合作发展。她与Eike Roswag合作的代表作METI学校在2005年建成，并在2007年获得阿卡汗建筑奖。迄今为止，Anna Heringer的建成作品遍及亚洲、非洲、欧洲。与此同时，她也在包括苏黎世联邦理工学院、慕尼黑工业大学、马德里理工大学、哈佛设计学院教授她和Martin Rauch共同开发的“Clay Storming”工艺。
Anna Heringer屡获奖项：全球可持续建筑奖(2016)、AR新兴建筑奖(2018)、哈佛设计学院 LoebFellowship、RIBA International Fellowship。她的作品在纽约现代艺术博物馆（MoMA）、伦敦V&A博物馆、威尼斯双年展等处发表展出。2017年，Anna Heringer在TED大会演讲。（点击这里查看TED演讲）
Anna Heringer grew up in Laufen, a small town at the Austrian-Bavarian border. At the age of 19 she lived in Bangladesh for almost a year, where she had the chance to learn from the NGO Dipshikha about sustainable development work. For Anna Heringer architecture is a tool to improve lives. As an architect and honorary professor of the UNESCO Chair of Earthen Architecture, Building Cultures, and Sustainable Development, she is focusing on the use of natural building materials. She has been actively involved in development cooperation in Bangladesh since 1997. Her diploma work, the METI School in Rudrapur was realized in 2005 in collaboration with Eike Roswag and won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. Over the years, Anna has realized further projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Together with Martin Rauch she has developed the method of Clay Storming that she teaches at various universities, including ETH Zurich, UP Madrid, TU Munich and GSD/Harvard.
She received numerous honors: the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, the AR Emerging Architecture Awards in 2006 and 2008, the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s GSD and a RIBA International Fellowship. Her work was widely published and exhibited in the MoMA New York, the V&A Museum in London and at the Venice Biennale among other places. In 2017 she was invited to give a TED talk. (click HERE to listen to the TED talk)
Studio and Bangladesh
“Every place has natural resources and people have specific talents. If you create architecture out of these potentials, you will ultimately create something very authentic and strong.”
At our studio, we try to only do projects that bring meaning and have a positive impact on others, and the projects that we fully believe in are ethical, ecological and touch all other aspects. This can be financially challenging, but we have carried it out from 2005 until now. It gives confidence when you can do what’s meaningful to you and find the means to survive financially.
▼Anna Heringer在工作室工作，Anna Heringer at her studio ©Alizée Cugney
I went to Bangladesh with a volunteer organization before I started studying architecture. I wanted to learn rural development and how to live in harmony with nature. The people there live a simple life with little needs. I was impressed by the abundance, the richness and the beauty of the things the locals created for their daily life. I learned from my host organization that the most effective strategy in sustainable development is to use the existing resources and be independent of external support. This is what I try to do with my architecture later on.
▼孟加拉村庄中的简单生活，the simple life in Bangladesh Village ©Studio Anna Heringer
I think keeping the construction and material procurement in the local area is a general thing. Everyone has potential. If you develop these (existing) resources and value these resources, then you are standing more on your own feet. If you copy and are jealous of what others do, you’ll never stand on stable feet. It’s the same thing for architecture. Every place has natural resources and people have specific talents. If you create architecture out of these potentials, you will ultimately create something very authentic and strong.
▼植根于自然的乡村生活，village life rooted in nature ©Studio Anna Heringer
Architectural practices in Bangladesh
“When you live on the construction site with the people and become part of this process, you can understand its power. We can use this process to build more than a building, but a community.”
Could you please introduce the background of the METI School?
I was 19 when I first arrived at Rudrapur in Bangladesh. I felt everything calmed down. I walked slower than usual. My senses were awakened: away from the city noise, I could hear the birds, the insects, people singing… Everything was intense, and at the same time, so soft. The local fabrics are colorful, such as rich green saris. The villages can have dense alleys, but you would not feel anything is harsh when you are in a village made of thatch shaped by hand – there’s a kind of softness embedded.
▼位于孟加拉北部的村子Rudrapur，Rudrapur, a village in northern Bangladesh ©Studio Anna Heringer
▼孟加拉当地的茅草房，thatched houses in Bangladesh ©Studio Anna Heringer
Of course, there is also poverty. But I think the feeling of being in harmony with nature raises a sense of trust as you are part of nature. This is what you can hardly feel when living in cities.
▼METI学校施工过程，METI School in construction ©Kurt Hoerbst
In this particular project, you designed the construction process to engage more local villagers. At what moment did it occur to you that you want to expand the design from the building to the whole system it relates to?
We always learn how to design a building, but we never learn how to design the process. However, when you live on the construction site with the people and become part of this process, you can understand its power. We can use this process to build more than a building, but a community. Once I experienced that, I naturally use the power of that process more intentionally than I did previously. For example, I did not involve the women in the first project, the METI School, as the locals told me it is not in their tradition for women to work on construction sites. Then, it so happened that I had some beautiful students with me working on the next project (DESI Training Center), and the wives got jealous as their husbands were flirting with the students. They looked stressed to me. I talked to them and understood the situation; then, we came about discussing what type of work the women could do and figured out a plan for them to work on the job site. The women usually do the plastering of their houses, so I decided to change the way we planned to plaster the building so that the women could do it by hand. The women asked me not to tell their husbands that they are joining the construction. The next day, the women did their home morning routine as usual,then showed up on the site five minutes later. When the husbands arrived at the construction site, of course, they were a bit disappointed that the women were also there. But after a week, they started flirting with their own wives. Then we had an open atmosphere and a joyful situation on the site. For the same amount of money, they worked as a team and improved their relationships.
▼让当地妇女参与到建设中，将墙涂成红色，local women participated in the construction, plastering the wall into red © DESI construction team
In DESI Training Center, how did the design of the system influence the architectural design?
For example, I was not planning to plaster the DESI Training Center in red at all. I was thinking of having it raw, as the METI school. As I thought, okay, we need some plastering, why not use the brilliant red? If you make it by hand rather than with the trowels, the edges might not be as straight, but it has a softer touch when it’s done by hand.
▼DESI学校室内，interior of DESI Training Center ©Naquib Hossain
Mud and Textiles
“I think earth is the only material that has a closed loop in terms of sustainability. You can take from the ground and recycle without any loss of quality.”
Earth construction allows you to engage the villagers who are not trained construction workers because it doesn’t require skilled laborers. How would you control the quality of earth construction?
You can definitely do earth construction in very accurate ways. It’s about the quality of the craftsmanship. You can do quality control just as in any other materials. But what you cannot do is create an architecture that doesn’t fit the nature of the material. You cannot build a MAXXI Museum out of mud in a rainy area. You have to understand the parameters of the site, then with your design, within that framework, you can create a precise, long-lasting building, just like Tulou in China.
The buildings we perceive as long-lasting are not built for eternity. Concrete buildings look ugly and unhealthy after a few decades. Meanwhile, there is no easy way to fix the concrete. We cannot open the concrete and check what’s going on with the steel rebar inside the concrete, what type of sand is used, etc. In contrast, in the village, if there’s a crack in the mud house, we put some water in and fix the crack.
The earth construction can stand for several hundreds of years in every climate zone. We have the know-how, but we are missing a narrative. With pre-fabrication that Martin Rauch is doing, you can scale them up in a fast and controlled way. You can do the earth construction in a high-tech way as well as a low-tech way. This is why I believe in scaling up earth construction is possible. Also, the material is readily available and not costly.
Anna Heringer, Martin Rauch和Lindsay Blair Howe联合创作
Book on Earth Construction co-authored by Anna Heringer, Martin Rauch and Lindsay Blair Howe
Your practice goes beyond architecture and focuses on different crafts, including textiles. Can you tell us about how you became interested in textiles and the projects that you are working on?
After 22 years of being in Bangladesh, you cannot look away from the garments that help so much in shaping the way that people have settled. Many women are leaving the villages to work in textile factories in Dhaka [the nearest city]. Some are girls saving for their dowry, some are mothers with children. This has a series of consequences. It’s tearing families apart. The women are forced to live in inhumane conditions in the city, and they completely lose the social network they have in the villages. For example, as a family in the rural area, you can build your home out of the earth and bamboo, you can plant your own food– you don’t have to pay for living. In cities, you would have to rent a place. You would hardly have any social life with the neighbors because the women have to work at least 10 hours a day and 6 days a week. Then, childcare becomes a problem too. The kids are mostly locked indoors the entire day with no space to be outside. In the villages, the kids have plenty of playgrounds, as there is hardly any traffic.
Why do the women leave the villages to work in the factories? In the rural areas, if there’s a low season for agriculture, the families don’t have any source of income. To work in a textile factory is the only professional choice the women can make. That’s why textile factories are shaping a lot of settlement. The automatized process of the fashion industry is problematic. It values efficiency more than quality. I just saw the news that in Germany, one person purchases 60 pieces of clothes per year on average, not including underwear and socks. Just imagine two school classrooms filled with a piece of clothing on every chair. It would be a more sustainable way of living if we purchase clothes that last longer and buy fewer pieces. At the same time, we can pay much fairer prices to those who make the clothes.
“As consumers, we are not aware that our way of living is also shaping spaces .”
因此，与其将农村人从他们熟悉的生活环境中抽离，迁移到城里，不如把工作机会引入到农村。这就是我在努力做的。我希望妇女们可以留在她们生活的环境，建立自己的家园。我和非营利组织Dipshikha以及来自我的家乡的织物设计师Veronika Lena Lang一起合作这个项目，设计的织物可以完全用去中心化的生产方式，不需要电力，不受流行时尚周期的影响。
As consumers, we are not aware that our way of living is also shaping spaces . If I buy a piece of clothing here, which is made in Bangladesh, I am encouraging the centralized factories and the inhumane environment to the women workers. If I am buying a fair-produced product, then I support a good place in the village. There are spaces attached to our clothes and the goods we are using.
That’s why it is important to bring work to where the people are, in rural areas, instead of drawing people from rural areas into the few hubs out of their living context. What I’m trying to do is to bring work to the rural areas where the women can stay and create their own habitat for themselves. I do this with the help of NGO Dipshikha and the tailoring masters from my hometown, Veronika Lena Lang, to design products that can be produced in completely decentralized ways – without electricity and without following any fashion cycles.
▼孟加拉的纺织品，textiles in Bangladesh ©Studio Anna Heringer
When we think of Bangladesh, we normally think of the clothing with very basic prints. However, Bangladesh has always been known for its fantastic traditional textiles, the beautiful muslin cotton and the silk clothes. It is our problem that we did not unleash the full potential of the textile in Bangladesh. Just as architects look at what the real potential of a place might be, I do the same to look at what textile traditions are there in order to create a fashion/product from that tradition.
The materials I use for Dipdii Textiles are already unique: they are recycled saris. They are so unique that they can never be taken over by some automated processes. For countries with rich textile traditions, it’s important to protect the traditional crafts so they are not completely replaced by the new “press-the-button” manufacturing technologies, such as laser cutting. I think recycled saris are a material product that won’t be replaced by any machine production.
▼回收的纱丽，recycled saris ©Dipdii Textiles
“This is not a shirt. This is a playground” – project for 2018 Venice Biennale ©Julien Lanoo
You established Dipdii Textiles as an alternative paradigm to textiles production factories. Can you describe the working environment of the Dipdii Textiles workshop?
In the beginning, we were using the existing structures and the women were working outdoors. We said that everyone could take the textiles and work at home. We thought this decentralized way of working would be the best thing for women, as they could choose when to do the work, for example, when the children are asleep. Then we figured out that the women enjoyed working together and to have a chance to break out of their homes. I can relate to this feeling. The family is fantastic but sometimes you also need balance to be outside and meet other people. Also, while the women are stitching, they chat about their life and support each other all the time.
▼Dipdii Textiles一起工作的场景，women working together at Dipdii Textiles ©Stefano Mori
And now they also have a really beautiful workshop building called “Anandaloy”. There’s space for people with disabilities on the ground floor, and the workshop is on the top floor. It’s a dancing structure, in contrast to METI school, which has straight profiles with hard edges. In the beginning, it was important to show that we could build a rigid structure with mud. Then with this building, I wanted to use the plastic capacity of mud. Also, I want to show that, as humans, we are not all the same. I want to celebrate the fact that we have members of our society who do not fit in the typical box. There’s beauty in this diversity. For this building, you can see a ramp dancing around the classroom from outside the building. As the only ramp in the village, it triggers the discussion about inclusiveness. Transmitting messages is an important power embedded in architecture.
▼Anandaloy，发挥泥土的可塑性，Anandaloy showing the plastic capacity of mud ©Kurt Hoerbst
▼Anandaloy建造过程，Anandaloy in construction ©Stefano Mori
You also have quite a lot of other textile projects going on while you are running your architecture studio. How does moving through different worlds impact the way you see things?
My brain space is divided into half with architecture and textiles now, but they are not completely separated. Last year I taught a studio at GSD (Harvard Graduate School of Design) and brought the students to Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. This year I’m connecting the women in the refugee camp to collaborate with the women in our (textile) workshop in the village of Rudrapur in Bangladesh. We asked the children in the camp to draw their memory of home during the studio trip. Now we are putting these images on textiles. The women in the village compose the drawings onto blankets. Then we bring the blankets back to the refugee camp and the women in the camp work on them together.
▼与Kutupalong难民营的妇女一起完成的纺织品项目，a textile project in collaboration with women at Kutupalong Refugee Camp ©Shaowen Zhang
Social Responsibility of Architects
“It’s in our DNA that every person wants to build something. The process is not about one man’s work. It’s about coming together and that helps build up relationships.”
在DESI Training Center项目，参与到建筑的建造过程对村子里的女性有什么影响？
In DESI Training Center, how did participating in the building process impact the women?
The women became more confident after the construction process. They usually never go out and hang out at the tea stores. But we all went there together. In the beginning, they were not very comfortable. They were not sure if it was okay for them to be at the tea store. After a while, it became normal and they did it just like the men. Because they were earning the same money as the men and, of course, they had a public presence in society.
I have another story with the women that I worked with for the textile projects: During the Hindu festival, there’s an occasion when the boys and the men in the village are dancing in front of hundreds of people. However, for girls, it’s not appropriate to be on the stage after the age of 12 or 13. I felt that the women would love to dance. They were dancing when no one was watching in our workshop area, but there was no way to go dancing in the public as a woman, especially when there were some widows amongst us. Widows were not supposed to have any fun in life. So, I said, “We all go as a group and we dance,” and we went dancing. They were extremely shy in the beginning. But in the end, they completely enjoyed themselves and everyone was cheering them up. They became more confident and they felt that it was okay to be part of public life.
您谈到DESI Training Center时提到了建筑的建造过程改善了村里的家庭关系和社群关系。您如何看待过程的力量？
When talking about DESI Training Center, you brought up that the process of the building construction improved the relationships in the families and in the community. How do you interpret the power of the process?
这个元素我和Martin Rauch也运用到了St.Peter of Worms教堂的项目里。社区里当然会有不和的情况，因此你要采取一些行动来让大家团结协作起来。我们聚集了社区里的人，一同用土夯出祭坛。我观察到最终人们一起夯土、共同努力，就像孟加拉村庄里的人们一样。这让我感到鼓舞，也从中学到了很多。从德国到孟加拉，过程的力量都是共通的。我们建筑师们需要学会运用这种力量。对建造的热情是写在人类的基因里的。人们之所以会涌入宜家、家得宝之类的卖场去挑选这把椅子、那个帘子，自己拼装，正是因为每个人都想自己建造自己的家。如果我们能把个人都聚集在一起，就能建立强大的社会纽带。
The power of the process is something that is undervalued in our society. We need to learn how to use it. In our society, the relationships between people are not strong enough: we have political issues, the gap between parties, and the gap between the rich and the poor. This is partially caused by the fact that we do not have enough common projects together. In the past, it was part of the tradition for a community to come together to build a temple, a church, a mosque, a school, a mayer’s house. There were also traditions that you help build each other’s house. In the village, these traditions brought people together. Instead of discussing with each other about the different opinions, you could bring everyone together physically and ask people to make an effort to build something together. Then, everyone would pull in the same direction. This is something that is lost today. There is a great saying: “If you want to bring war or hate, just throw rice amongst people. If you want to unite them, get them to build a tower together.” Because when people build something together, they would be proud of the structure, and they would have something to hold on to as their identity and pride. This builds confidence not only in people’s own potential, but also in the community.
This is an element we also used for the project I did together with Martin Rauch in the cathedral St. Peter of Worms in Germany. The community came together to create an altar, rammed out of earth. Observing the community was inspiring to me. Of course, people in the community also fight against each other sometimes, and you have to make an effort to stop the fights and build a team. However, in the end, everyone rammed the earth together and united to finish the altar. The power of the process worked as well in Germany as much as it did in Bangladesh. As architects, we need to learn to use this power. It’s in our DNA that every person wants to build something. We all want to build our own home, that’s why we rush into IKEA and Home Depot to buy this chair and that curtain, and assemble them by ourselves. The process is not about one man’s work. It’s about coming together and that helps build up relationships.
people in the community participated in the construction process of the altar ©Norbert Rau
Wormser Dom’s altar interior ©Norbert Rau
How would you describe your value system?
I want to say it’s about global happiness. To feel needed is something that’s part of everyone’s life goal. To be able to live according to the talents you have, this is what I’m trying to do with my architecture. I include as many people and as many talents as possible. In the end, we all stand in front of the building and feel that we are part of it. We are filled with confidence and trust in ourselves, in the team, and also in the materials and resources that we have.
What is your understanding of “a client”?
A client is someone who wants to build something. This is a simple definition. Based on my personal experience, when I go to a place, I would notice that the people are in need of something. I’ll find what resources can be gathered together to initiate a project. When you define a problem and a challenge and have a feeling that you can do something, it’s hard not to do it. As with the Dipdii Textiles, I saw the fantastic potential, which no one is using, so I started using it because I thought I could.
I don’t have a client. A lot of architects invest time doing competitions. Instead of doing this, I invest time in initiating my own projects. In the beginning, I did crowdfunding. Now people and organizations start to approach me with a building budget set up. Organizations that are supposed to work ethically, like the church, want to have a building made in a way that’s ethically and environmentally-sound to prove that’s possible. I don’t have a “client”, but luckily, I have visionary people who support me and share the same goal with me. It’s not always easy because we are not doing projects in a standardized way, or designing with conventional materials, especially in Germany with all the regulations.
“The younger generation is hungry to combine the aesthetic part and the meaningful part of architecture.”
Do you see the role of architects changing in today’s society?
The younger generation is hungry to combine the aesthetic part and the meaningful part of architecture . That wasn’t the case for the last few decades. But the challenge is that there is so much money associated with construction and you can make much more money if you do things in the standard and conventional way. I think we need some shaping up of our profession.
The wake-up call is coming with climate change. I’m sure we will have issues with carbon tax soon. The mainstream building materials are not always sustainable. Steel is getting more expensive. Regarding concrete, we are running out of the sand. The issues are coming faster than our expectations. Then, we have to change our way of creating architecture completely. New technology will not always solve all the problems. We cannot simply have a fantasy building on our screens or in our minds, send it to a 3D printer and glue the print outs.
“I think it is our core capacity as designers, to use our creativity and technology to use the old materials in a modern way.”
We have to go back to the basics which have created all the beautiful building cultures all around the world, where we all want to go and spend vacations. These places based on basic wisdom are so authentic. You are standing on much more stable feet if you rely on the resources that are locally and naturally available. We sometimes have a hard time imagining how the old materials can fit in our contemporary world. But I think it is our core capacity as designers, to use our creativity and technology to use the old materials in a modern way.
Of course, the natural materials are always vulnerable to the local climate. But if we take this vulnerability and specificity of the local materials, we can create authentic architecture that is perfectly tailored to that place – architecture that is radiating the beauty and identity of the locals. It would be easier to involve local craftsmen instead of skilled labor. If architects can utilize these resources in a creative way, we can create something that’s beyond the branded, globalized architecture.
▼METI学校内部，用本土材料创造质朴真诚的建筑空间，interior of METI School, architecture with authenticity ©Peter Bauerndick