出品人：向玲 Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：向玲，武晨曦，陈诺嘉，刘丹阳 Editor: Xiang Ling, Wu Chenxi, Chen Nuojia, Liu Danyang
gooood x Li Hu 李虎
On the Impact of Studying and Working Abroad
The free and creative spirit embodied in my mentors uncovered my internal drive as a designer.
我在莱斯大学求学的时候，幸运地赶上了一个特别辉煌的时代。当时建筑学院的院长Lars Lerup带来了很多好老师，花了很多时间整顿学院。莱斯是美国南方一所很有名的学校，有很多新鲜的事情。 这里远离热点，充满自由，而我天生是个不愿意被条条框框局限的人。Bruce Mau, Brian Huberman等老师们身上体现的自由精神把潜藏在我心里的原动力挖掘了出来，对我产生了很大影响。在这里，你用什么方式做设计都可以，只要做得好就行。我的毕业设计就不是一个典型的建筑作品，而是一部艺术装置电影和论文。
Li Hu and his tutor Brian Huberman
during his graduate studies at Rice University
I was lucky to have studied at Rice University during a particularly brilliant era. The dean at the time, Lars Lerup, brought in a lot of inspiring mentors and professors and spent a lot of time reorganizing the school. Rice is a famous university in the southern United States, where new and fresh things are happening every day. It is a place that stays away from hot spots and is full of freedom, and I happen to be a person who yearns for that. Indeed, the free and creative spirit embodied in mentors such as Bruce Mau and Brian Huberman uncovered my internal drive as a designer. At Rice, you could design with whatever means you chose to, as long as you did it well. My thesis, for instance, was not a typical architectural work, but a film art installation and a written paper.
▼李虎在Rice的研究生毕业设计装置，Li Hu’s graduate design installation
New York is a diverse and inclusive city full of freedom. I feel like I’ve never really left there.
It wasn’t until after I started my career in New York City that I began to really see and get in touch with the world. Before then, I was a nerd who kept his head in books and had little to do with society. New York is a diverse and inclusive city full of freedom. In fact, the city may have had a greater impact on me than the work I did there. Until recently, I still considered New York as the city that I was most familiar with. I feel like I’ve never really left there. It is a dazzling world, filling you with the desire to explore different places constantly. Every city has its own distinctive spirit, and great cities are all different. However, today’s New York has changed. In the past, it was a place where people from all walks of life could find a place of their own. Now, New York has become too expensive—it’s a world for the super-rich, not as interesting as before.
▼李虎2006年在飞机上拍摄的纽约中央公园，New York’s Central Park, aerial shot by LI Hu in 2006
I have been continuously seeking true innovation, and trying to achieve depth and meaning in buildings I design.
As for the impact the work there had on me, I think the most important thing was participating in projects and meeting excellent people. My colleagues were a group of brilliant people. I always enjoyed working with great people, and the books they read, the topics they talked about, and the views they held all inspired me a lot, and naturally, changed me in some way. Professionally, this helped me gain a more mature perspective and a clearer direction for my future efforts. I have been continuously seeking true innovation, and trying to achieve depth and meaning in buildings I design. Depth is relative to the superficial, depth is relative to technique, and depth is relative to the beauty on surfaces—all of these things are difficult to express in simple language. Two years ago, when I went back to Texas and revisited the Kimbell Art Museum after more than 20 years, I was still deeply touched by it. However the new addition next door did not arouse the same kind of feeling. Some things are popular simply because they cater to the current trends. However, truly impressive buildings don’t necessarily appeal to the media, since what they offer may be hard to see from photos.
▼李虎拍摄的金贝尔美术馆，Photograph of the Kimbell Art Museum by Li Hu
On OPEN Architecture
Scale and Structure of OPEN Architecture
I am not a person who believes in big-ness. What I really care about is that everything I do is indispensable.
I am not a person who believes in big-ness. I prefer an architectural studio with no more than 30 people. We consciously control our firm’s scale and the number of projects we take on. What I really care about is that everything I do is indispensable. In terms of our studio’s structure, we hold a flat organization. Although the work is organized vertically——there are project architects working under my partner and me, and team members under the project architects, I also work directly with interns too. Our office culture emphasizes no hierarchy.
Dividing Work and Choosing Projects
Wenjing and I complement each other in many ways. Looking at things from different angles is very important. For me, architecture has never been a business. The design process for every project is always somewhat painful, so you have to make sure it’s worthwhile.
There is no specific division of work between my partner and me, and we don’t separate our responsibilities by stages of work or different projects. Wenjing and I complement each other in many ways. In everything from design to office management to communications, we work together and have each other’s backs. Like detectives who tend to work in pairs, deep involvement and different perspectives are very important in the practice of architecture. As for choosing our projects, I dare to say it is a gamble-like process. You have to trust your gut feeling about whether a project can meet the standards you expect. For me, architecture has never been a business. The design process for every project is always somewhat painful, so you have to make sure it’s worthwhile. The project needs to promise to leave something meaningful, something worth thinking about, something that can bring new ideas and a real difference to the world. If we can’t find such a project, we’d rather do hypothetical or research projects. I can’t work on something against my heart, and neither would any of my colleagues at OPEN. In fact, some of them may have even higher pursuits than I do! Even if I was willing to lower my standards, they might not agree.
Architecture touches upon aesthetics, image, light, materiality, details,
spirituality and many other things. But most important of all to us,
in our era and social context,
,,,,,,,,,is its innovative power to transform people and the way they live,
while striking a new balance between the man-made and the nature.
OPEN takes on this challenge directly, emerging itself in the ample opportunities
along with greatest difficulties at the same time,
to test with our own vehicle, the power of Architecture
and its potential being in the greatest social and environmental transformation
ever in human history to date.
The manifesto was written by Wenjing and me collaboratively, since the architecture is not just a matter of skill. We don’t limit our standards to simply realizing good buildings. The fact is that there are many good buildings, especially in China where progress on this front is particularly obvious. We can’t just be satisfied with creating beautiful buildings; we must also explore how design can influence and change people’s lives for the better.
▼OPEN建筑事务所部分项目一览，A selection of projects by OPEN Architecture
On Architectural Design
Beijing No. 4 High School Fangshan Campus
Architecture establishes a connection between humans and larger forces.
Architecture is neither a sculpture, nor a photo, nor a video. Architecture is building—not only physical structures but also relationships. This is one of the great meanings of architecture. Different buildings construct different relationships—relationships between people and other people, people and cities, and even people and the universe. Architecture establishes a connection between humans and larger forces. When we consider our place in the universe, we quickly understand our own insignificance, but through architecture we can bring about changes. Taking the Beijing No. 4 High School Fangshan Campus as an example, it indeed ushered in a transformation in the field of educational facility design in China. The No. 4 High School is a milestone and turning point which has attracted public attention to the need for innovation in school design.
Qingpu Pinghe School in Shanghai
Through organizing spaces and circulation, architecture can foster a sense of freedom and openness. The school’s design creates a rich and diverse experience that is essential for the healthy development of a child.
The two schools are of different types, and I don’t like to repeat myself, so we did two very different school designs. No. 4 High school is a public school with required FAR ration of 1.0. The driving concept behind the No. 4 High School was to introduce nature into every aspect of the school, so that students and teachers can navigate freely through the whole campus. Through organizing spaces and circulation, architecture can foster a sense of freedom and openness. As for the Qingpu Pinghe School, that was a totally new challenge. There, students essentially spend their youths—from the age of 3 to 15—on one school campus. In the early stages of the project, a concept didn’t jump out immediately to me like it had with the No.4 High School. I didn’t find a clear working direction until one day I thought, why not do the opposite of what we did at No.4 High School, building the campus like a village of small buildings instead of a super structure? Why can’t a school have different styles and visual identities within one whole, each suited to the students’ varying ages and needs? After all, if kids were forced to spend their days in the same building from age 3 to 15, they might be totally fed up by the age of 8! Finally, we broke up the program into small buildings and totally blended together architecture and nature. At this new smaller scale, the campus’s buildings and gardens create a brand-new studying experience. You go from one building to another for meals; you run across the field for music lessons; you walk through a garden on the way to the laboratory, and on your way back to your own classroom, you pass by a lily pond…the school’s design creates a rich and diverse experience that is essential for the healthy development of a child.
The redesigned school brief expressed our understanding and hopes for the future of education. Reading, sports, and art – these three foundations, as laid out in school, together determine the future ability and the core values of a student.
I often “redesign” the design brief itself. In my view, the design brief is about life. The redesigned school brief expressed our understanding and hopes for the future of education. The question of education and educational buildings has been a concern for me ever since our work on the No. 4 High School. I have also been thinking about the gaps in the current education system in China. There are three indispensable things that are essential for a person’s growth—reading, sports, and art. These three foundations, as laid out in school, together determine the future ability and core values of a student. Unfortunately, however, they also receive the least focus in the traditional Chinese education system. In response, in our Qingpu school we have distilled and emphasized these three elements and made them into several of the most important buildings on the campus. We have located an art building——for both performing art and visual arts——in the center of the campus; we have designed plenty of sports facilities for the school, such as a gym, swimming pool, and meandering running tracks, and we have also created a very large library and collaborated with the client to connect it to the Shanghai library network.
▼上海青浦平和双语学校的图书馆和艺术中心 ©OPEN建筑事务所，Library and Arts Center of the Qingpu Pinghe School © OPEN
We also want to achieve a deeper integration of architecture and the city, and the genuine innovation of mechanism and typology.
We also want to achieve a deeper integration of architecture and the city. In my opinion, public buildings offer many opportunities for innovation. The innovation I am talking about is not on the level of form—shape or skin—but rather the genuine innovation of mechanism and typology. In other words, innovation should bring new forms, but not be limited to or defined by them. Many buildings may look unconventional, but their contents are nothing interesting—the same plain thing, just with a different outer coat. These buildings will never lead to the genuine change that’s needed.
UCCA Dune Art Museum
With the museum, I wanted to express a feeling of timelessness, of being in a primitive state from an ancient time, and to establish a connection with the universe, sun, moon, wind and light.
On earth today, untouched natural environments are increasingly rare. The Dune Art Museum was the first time I was given the opportunity to design a building in a relatively natural environment. Because of this, its architectural language is naturally different from that of our other works. Some people say the building resembles organs. I think it resembles many things and nothing all at once. Similar to nature itself, from scales on the microscopic to the cosmic, it exists indescribably. It is more like a primitive spatial pattern—a natural form. From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to bury the building in the sand dunes. The building was supposed to have a connection with the natural environment surrounding it, and it was just impossible for a box volume to do that as sand dunes are soft, uncertain and unpredictable. At the UCCA Dune Art Museum, you can experience a kind of uncertainty in the space itself. You can’t figure out its shape, especially since its interior is white so that you can’t clearly perceive the boundaries of spaces. It has a certain mystery. In the project’s early design stages, I thought a lot about primitive things, like the earliest human forms of living, primitive settlements, and so on. How do people come together? The process is the same as how cells gather, and how atoms attract each other. In the design process, this concept evolved gradually in a very interesting deformation process somewhat similar to the evolution of creatures. Based on an intrinsic order, through this evolution we found a balance among the various forces at work. With the museum, I wanted to express a feeling of timelessness, of being in a primitive state from an ancient time, and to establish a connection with the universe, sun, moon, wind and light. We have seen too many box-volume art museums, in which there are few connections between the art within and the surrounding nature. I don’t think this is the state in which artists want their work to appear. Art is meant to be created in natural light and, when shown, re-engage with that light and establish a connection with nature. The Dune Art Museum is not a very large space, which guarantees opportunities for people to be alone with the artworks. It is also a place relatively far from Beijing, and as such sculpts a refreshingly peaceful relationship between the space, site, visitors, and artwork.
▼沙丘美术馆展厅 ©吴清山，Main gallery of the UCCA Dune Art Museum © Wu Qingshan
The Dune Art Museum is an art installation itself on a marvelous scale—an installation connecting people to nature.
In my design I did not presuppose a fixed museum experience, and the circulation routes inside the museum are actually quite rich and various. The art museum is a large interconnected space. Its galleries have no doors. Each space is part of an open, organic network, and is quite complex and varied. Each visitor will have a different experience in the museum, as even if you come at the same time of the day in the same season, the space does not stay the same. The building’s openings face the ocean, the sky, and many different directions. We made many joints with concealed window frames within the openings, creating an illusionary feeling that visitors are outside in the open air. The Dune Art Museum is an art installation itself on a marvelous scale—an installation connecting people to nature.
▼从沙丘美术馆内部向外看海 ©吴清山，View to the sea from inside the UCCA Dune Art Museum © Wu Qingshan
The UCCA Dune Art Museum transcends the immediate community around it. Its independent existence belongs to anyone who is interested in it.
I think that any sensitive person will be touched by the Dune Art Museum, and being touched means being impacted to some degree. In addition, the museum also makes the community more public. Although the museum is located in the Aranya Community, it does not belong to that community alone, but to the greater region. When I designed the Linked Hybrid Building with Steven Holl, we inserted a movie theater inside, making the closed community much more open. There is no doubt that people’s lives change when they live in a more open community and environment. The UCCA Dune Art Museum transcends the immediate community around it. Its independent existence belongs to anyone who is interested in it.
On Architecture and Landscape
Plants make me happy and relaxed. I can’t live without them, and neither can our projects.
我喜欢景观，我们设计的房子没有一个不会跟景观长在一起的。我喜欢植物，也喜欢动物，特别想做动物园的设计。植物让我开心，也会让我放松。我的生活离不开植物，我们的项目离不开景观，因为植物能给人带来愉悦。我最喜欢的景观大师Burle Marx说过：没有丑陋的植物，只有不好的搭配。我们可以跟植物学到很多东西。植物教给我们耐心，它按照自己的周期生长；植物又是不断变化的，引用Burle Marx的话：“植物不变的时候，就没有意义了。”植物是有寿命的，只要它活着，就会不断变化，这种变化令我着迷。植物对于城市生活太重要了，它会带给人们快乐，然而在城市环境里好的景观机会有限，所以我们一直在努力创造机会，让建筑容纳这些花园。四中里大的乔木都是我亲自去苗圃一棵一棵选的。在坪山剧院里，我们设计了一个可以从地面一直走上屋顶去的景观序列，在剧院里包裹了一个公园。以前没有人这么做过，你要去创造机会，给景观生存空间。现在流行把景观变成装饰，但是景观不是随意种树，景观是空间。到处都是树，意义不大。把树放到一个它不爱待的地方，对树本身也是折磨。实现这种创造的难度很大。第一，任务书里没有；第二，在屋顶做景观，创造新的平台，技术难度大。我们的建筑和景观一向是同步设计的，我特别期待有好的景观设计方跟我们合作。我觉得景观不用过度设计，自然而然就好。我做万科总部的时候，刚好赶上金融危机，没有预算，我们自己做的设计就废掉了，什么都没有种，任其生长。一个月以后，野草美极了，它本身自成原始的景观。
▼北京四中房山校区里的农田和花园 ©OPEN建筑事务所，Farms and gardens in Beijing No.4 High School Fangshan Campus © OPEN
I love landscape. All of the buildings we have designed are tied closely with the landscape. I like plants and animals, and really would love the opportunity to design a zoo one day. Plants make me happy and relaxed. I can’t live without them, and neither can our projects. My favorite master landscape architect Burle Max once said that there are no ugly plants, only poor combinations. Plants can teach us a lot. They teach us patience, because they grow according to their own cycles; and they are ever-changing. As Burle Max once expressed, it would be meaningless if plants stopped growing. Plants have their own lives. As long as they are alive, they constantly change—a process which fascinates me. Plants are indispensable for urban life, as they bring happiness to people. Unfortunately, there are limited opportunities for good landscape environments in the city, so we have been working hard to create opportunities to integrate much-needed urban gardens and green space into our architecture. During our No.4 High School project, I went to the tree nursery in person to carefully pick out all the big trees used. In our Pingshan Performing Arts Center project in Shenzhen, we incorporated a series of gardens linked by a promenade from the plaza all the way up to the roof. It is a garden built into a theater building. I am not sure it’s been done before. Today, the public tends to treat landscape as a means of decoration, but landscape doesn’t mean just planting vegetation. It’s also a matter of space. Planting trees everywhere is meaningless. Placing trees in unsuitable places also torments the tree. We always design architecture and landscape together, and I really hope to collaborate one day with a good landscape architect. I think landscape should be natural, not over-designed. When I was working on the Vanke Headquarters with Steven Holl, the financial crisis had just hit. Without a budget, everything we had designed for the landscape was cut. Ultimately, we didn’t plant anything but decided to let the nature take its course. Surprisingly, a month later, the weeds which occupied the roof garden grew so beautifully that they themselves became the original wild landscape we had intended for the space.
▼景观与建筑 – 坪山演艺中心屋顶景观 ©张超
Landscape and Architecture – Rooftop landscape of the Pingshan Performing Arts Center © Zhang Chao
On Architecture and Lifestyle
I have always been interested in transforming architecture into a kind of product that people can buy without the need to go through an architect or developer.
My bigger plan is to develop and implement MARS Case as a product. It is not an exhibition, but an ongoing project. I have always been interested in the combination of architecture and product design, and in transforming architecture into a kind of product that, similar to a car, is a purely product-oriented thing that can be customized and changed. Someday, we might imagine that people can buy a building without the need to go through an architect or developer. We designed MARS Case as a home for young people, affordable for young people while also offering space for a modest but high-quality life. Thanks to its small footprint, it’s a very free and flexible housing model, making it easier for occupants to choose their dream living location. You can live where you want to live.
Life doesn’t need to happen at home, it can happen in the city and on the streets.
I myself have lived in a smaller apartment than MARS Case in New York City. With a beautiful city surrounding you, you don’t need too much private space for studying and sleeping. Life doesn’t need to happen at home, it can happen in the city and on the streets. I’m not asking everyone to adopt this lifestyle, or to live this way permanently, but I strongly believe living like this for a while is a good life experience. MARS Case also has many other applications, including acting as a vacation home. You can experience an isolated natural life as described in Thoreau’s Walden; you can even use MARS Case to vacation on Mars and the Moon. The problem with China today is that our cities and urban environment are not friendly. Many people have a movie room, karaoke room, and generous dining at home, but this is not the kind of lifestyle that a young person should live. Excessively luxurious lives and squandering, endless desires… our materialistic society has done irreparable harm to the environment, and considering this question was another aspect which motivated me to design MARS Case.
▼不同环境中的火星生活舱 ©小米，MARS Case in different environments ©Xiaomi
Lifestyle of Modern People
One needs to be environmentally conscious. We should avoid being trapped by the vicious cycles of consumption and capitalism. Cities are more important than buildings. There are good cities before there is good architecture.
I think people have the right to choose any lifestyle they fancy, but one must be environmentally conscious. We should avoid being trapped by the vicious cycles of consumption and capitalism. For example, our city streets are becoming less and less friendly. We started to lose interest in strolling along the streets and shopping. Then online retailers came to fill in the gap and started to flourish. In fact, the more terrible urban and street life is, the more people will rely on the Internet. Relatively, the stronger the role of online shopping is in our lives, the worse our physical shops will be, which in turn contributes to a worse urban environment. We enter into a vicious cycle. The problems which exist in our cities today are far more than architectural problems. In my view, cities are more important than buildings. There are good cities before there is good architecture.
▼上海油罐艺术中心，策略性的改造创造更好的城市环境 ©吴清山，TANK Shanghai, creating better city environment through strategic renovation © Wu Qingshan
On Architecture and the City
A city should be a public facility providing its citizens with public services, and a place for people to live together with dignity.
Chinese cities cannot simply copy the West. How, then, can we find our own way of developing high-rise buildings and high-density regions? I don’t think that huge buildings are the only answer. I want to explore and discover new possibilities. Perhaps a dense city could combine low-rise high-density and new types of high-rises, a mixed state more suitable to a diverse population, and more exciting. We have recently been working on the idea of a growing city for a competition in Shenzhen Bay. Although the building construction is instantaneous, we still can create a feeling of growth, making the high-rise buildings seem as though they are rising from a village below. This design offers a new way of examining population density, urban culture, and daily living needs. At the same time, it provides us with more opportunities to explore and create unprecedented typologies, patterns, and living styles, including at the level of urban scale. The challenge of designing a city from scratch is something I’ve always been interested in. So this competition is not only a competition, but a challenge for myself—a challenge about how to make sure individual citizens can find dignity and opportunity in everyday urban life. In the Shenzhen project, we reduced the scale of the buildings and showed care for real people in need, so that everyone would be able find their own space in the city. A city should be a shared space belonging to everyone, and offering the freedom that so many people yearn for. Today in China, many architects prefer to work in the countryside than the cities, but I think we cannot and should not flee the city. We must instead rethink how cities can be improved. A city needs dignity, but unfortunately, many cities do not provide enough of that, both in terms of resources and respect for individuals. For example, taking a clean shower, using their own bathroom—many people in the inner old city of Beijing still do not enjoy these basic amenities. A city should be a public facility providing its citizens with public services, and a place for people to live together with dignity.
▼城市问题研究草图，Study sketches of urban issues
Role of architect play in future urban development
Visionary and experienced architects should be more actively engaged and involved in urban construction. Everyone must offer their individual strengths and play their own distinctive role.
I think that visionary and experienced architects should be more actively engaged and involved in urban construction. This requires that the city offer architects opportunities to do so. Architects can play a public role to promote what a good city should look like; through designing and constructing buildings, architects can imbue the humanistic warmth that cities deserve. Urban architecture should be open and inclusive, and this is a management-level issue for urban planning administrators. I think architects should actively seek opportunities to intervene and strive for their voices to be heard. Urban planning is a process that requires discussion and reform, in which everyone must offer their individual strengths and play their own distinctive role. This is at once the most important and the most difficult thing to do.
▼二环2049，2nd Ring Beijing 2049
▼流动快乐站装置设计，Mobile Joy Station
On Projects and Future
Current and Future Projects
A desire for things that are eye-catching, superficial, shallow and popular is actually, in my opinion, a type of conservatism. I would like to find some opportunities to do more projects related to urban issues.
I think I am quite suited for art and cultural projects, just like most of the projects I worked on when I was in the United States. When it comes to designing spaces for art, I know what is needed; I am more familiar with what art spaces demand and that makes it easier for me to communicate with both collaborators and the art itself. I do also very much hope to have the opportunity to work on some large-scale commercial projects, but nine times out of ten they are too conservative. A desire for things that are eye-catching, superficial, shallow and popular is actually, in my opinion, a type of conservatism.
Currently, I am working on a project transforming a small commercial complex in Beijing into an art museum. The transformation itself is fascinating. It’s also an art museum that’s very innovative in its programming. We’re also working on a pedestrian bridge project in Shenzhen. It is not a simple structure meant to be sleek or dazzlingly technical, but a project with some social responsibilities. Shenzhen lacks small public libraries, which motivated me to try to incorporate a library into the design of the bridge. The two volumes are relatively independent, and if people wish they can pass through the library while crossing over the pedestrian bridge.
I would like to find some opportunities to do more projects related to urban issues. In fact, I think I am quite good at ultra-large-scale projects, for example, I would like to redesign an airport or a train station, but I have not yet encountered the right opportunities.
On Future Plans and Prospects
I hope to have more opportunities to design more influential buildings. Only when you become strong enough can you create extraordinary work when the right opportunity presents itself.
I don’t want to limit ourselves to the current work we have done. I hope to have more opportunities to design more influential buildings, such as public cultural buildings. I am looking for chances for urban and social interventions that are new and innovative, more than just devoting myself to my own design work. After all, the purpose of architecture is to leave a positive impact on society. For the foreseeable future, I think the most important thing for us is to build a strong team. We hope to attract more young people with passion and ideals to join us. Only when our team is stronger, can we do better work. We are still practicing. Only when you become strong enough can you create extraordinary work when the right opportunity presents itself.
▼李虎 ©马楠，Li Hu ©Ma Nan