gooood team interviews creative from all over the world. Your recommendations and suggestions are welcomed! gooood Interview NO.28 introduces Zhang Li, Founder of Atelier Teamminus , the dean of the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University, and chief designer of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Zhangjiakou competition area and Shougang big air. More: Atelier Teamminus on gooood
出品人：向玲 Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：向玲，陈诺嘉，武晨曦，刘丹阳，李诗蓉，徐馨羽 Editor: Xiang Ling, Chen Nuojia, Wu Chenxi, Liu Danyang, Li Shirong, Xu Xinyu
gooood x Zhang Li 张利
“Atelier Teamminus is more about a research-based studio where each project is supposed to be interacted to our academic research.”
Atelier Teamminus was established in 2002, when there were only three members who were young teachers from Tsinghua University. Focusing on conceptual projects, we participated in an exhibition in France during the Atelier’s early period. In 2005, I returned to China from the USA and the atelier began to engage with practical projects, keeping developing and growing. Currently, there are more than 50 members in the office, including 40 architects, 10 computer graphic designers and several administrative staffs. Although more than 30 of the staffs belong to THAD, we all work together as a unified team. Being connected with Tsinghua University and influenced by my field of study, Atelier Teamminus is more about a research-based studio where each project is supposed to be interacted to our academic research.
▼简盟工作室办公环境，office environment of Atelier Teamminus
2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
“ The Winter Olympics should not further destroy the environment, but to be in parallel with the restoration of the eco-system of the mountains in Chongli.”
By what chance did you take charge of the projects in 2022 Winter Olympics? What challenges did you face in the work and how did you overcome them?
In 2014 and 2015, thanks to the recommendation by Mr. Shi Weiliang, vice director of Beijing Planning and Natural Resource Committee and former Chief Planner of Beijing, we had the chance to take part in the design competition for 2022 Winter Olympics. He was my senior and we had worked together in many projects after 2001 so that we were quite familiar with each other. I entered the interview held by Beijing Winter Olympics Committee with his recommendation and was commissioned to take charge of the design of stadiums. Later, I was gradually transited to working with Chief Planner Shi Weiliang for the facility planning and sustainable issues in bidding. In July 2015, Beijing succeeded in the bid for 2022 Winter Olympics. Considering that I still had much work to do as both a teacher and an architect, I didn’t keep working in the Winter Olympics Committee. I went back to school and continued working on the stadium design proposals as an architectural professional.
▼张利设计的冬奥场馆和设施，stadiums and facilities for the Winter Olympics designed by Zhang Li
The biggest challenge I have faced was the design of the outdoor stadiums for snow sports. This kind of projects were totally different from those we had done before and the related technological process was quite unfamiliar to the local team. There were three main problems：Firstly, due to the unique terrain of the mountainous area, the construction of the infrastructure was totally different from those on flat sites, especially the structural design for municipal works and disaster prevention. Secondly, for projects in such cold climate, we had to build a series new systems for water control, surface temperature maintenance and wind proofing. Unlike those designs for typical outdoor spaces and parks in the city, the projects were located in an uncontrollable micro-environment that was unreservedly exposed to the nature. Thirdly, considering the potential risks in winter sports, the projects asserted a new standard for designing the first-aid facilities. For example, if an athlete falls onto the ground, only well trained doctors could use a customized snowboard to climb along the track to carry out the rescue operation, which can rarely happen to an indoor stadium. It is inevitable to encounter with unexpected challenges and new situations in design, but it doesn’t mean that we have to bite the bullet to cope with them. Instead we need to stay curious and keep studying, making ourselves and the team adaptable to the requirements proposed by the project. Luckily, the design work was greatly assisted by the global team of specialists in both sports and construction fields.
▼冬奥场馆施工照片，需要考虑地形和气候等问题，construction sites of the Winter Olympics stadiums, taking climate and terrain into consideration
How could 2022 Winter Olympics activate the development of the city and enhance its sustainability? What is the plan for using the stadiums after the event?
Generally, in this case, the sustainable strategy aims to promote the integration of Beijing and Hebei. It will enable the opportunities and resources that used to be concentrated in the megacities to flow into those relatively undeveloped districts, and result in more equal and long-term social development. Winter Olympics will contribute a lot to this process. Taking some of my previous projects for instance, Shougang Big Air was the first stadium in the history of the Olympics to be located in an industrial heritage. It received wide attention from sports organizations and urban construction organizations in all over the world. Kristin Feireiss, former jury member of the Pritzker Prize even suggested to curate an exhibition in Berlin dedicated to this project for its significancy in conceptual design. The project has now become a very popular visiting spot among young people. We believe that after the Winter Olympics, it will continue to help accumulating immeasurable transportation and infrastructure resources for the local area.
In Zhangjiakou Competition Area, while Chongli has always been a popular destination for skiing, it seems to have no distinguishing characteristic comparing to other ski resorts in northern China. Driving by the Winter Olympics, a world-class event, it has received a lot of resources for infrastructure construction, and is changing rapidly in ecological preservation and cultural economic development. Since the beginning of the bid, I have been to Chongli for more than three hundred times and have witnessed its huge change in physical environment, public management and even the characteristics of the local people. At the core area of Zhangjiakou Competition Area is a historic site of Jin Dynasty, while the high speed railway station is only 500 meters away. Taking the context into consideration, we planned a small town in the relatively flat areas of about 3 square kilometers, which will directly benefit from the Winter Olympics in the future. Throughout the history, a number of mountainous areas have become favorite resorts after holding the Winter Olympic Games. We are convinced that Chongli will powerfully speak for itself to the world in the future.
▼张家口赛区太子城冰雪小镇规划图，master plan of Taizicheng Ice and Snow Town in Zhangjiakou competition area
▼施工中的2022北京冬奥会张家口赛区奥运村，Olympic Village in Zhangjiakou competition area for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games under construction
▼太子城冰雪小镇鸟瞰，aerial view of Taizicheng Ice and Snow Town
As ski jumping is not a wide spread sport, the sustainability of the ski jumping ramps becomes an obvious issue to consider about. Usually here are two solutions to cope with the problem: For Middle Europe countries, such as Slovenia, Czech and Poland, ski jumping is a common sport like football and badminton. Ski Jumping venues in these countries could be used with their original functions after the competitions. However, in the countries where ski jumping is not that popular, the venues are more likely to be reformed for other uses. Xueruyi Project is one of the examples. In this project we developed three plans for the post-Olympic use. Firstly, the more regular structures, except the take-off platform and the jump point, could be used for holding other activities. The rooftop could become a meeting and exhibition area. We insisted not to build a counter-slope at the finish line area, even though it could efficiently reduce the landing distance by 1/3. By not building counter-slope, an integrated 135-meter-long sports field was created, which could later be used for summer competitions and concerts. If Zhangjiakou successfully host the Asian Winter Games in the future, the stadium will also be the opening ceremony venue. Some extreme sports events, such as the Red Bull Climbing Competitions are also happening in the Ski jumping venue. Secondly, the project will become an attraction for visitors. Thirdly, it will provide a training base for the athletes. As Xueruyi could provide complete data and accurate records of the competitions, as well as full equipped facilities, the usage by the athletes training in this stadium is expected to be maximized every year.
▼国家跳台滑雪中心赛后利用效果图，跳台顶部的圆环可以用作会议等活动，post-game use vision of the National Ski Jumping Center, the ring on the top of the ramp could be used
▼国家跳台滑雪中心赛后利用效果图，落地区可以用于夏季赛事和演唱会等活动，post-game use vision of the National Ski Jumping Center, the finishing area could be used for summer games and concerts
There is a loop structure on the top of Xueruyi Ski Jumping Center, which has never been seen in previous ski jumping facilities. What was the initial point of the design? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
About 20 years ago, it became a design method to build the large and small jumping platforms together to create a sculptural landmark architecture. Usually, the rooftop of the Big Air structure is designed inaccessible to the public. The spectacular view can only be caught from the cable cars and people have no interaction with the structure. In Xueruyi Ski Jumping Center, we adopted the image of “Ruyi” and simulated its curved profile, for which we had to add a crown-like form to the top. Considering the load-bearing capacity of the structure, we finally decided to build a loop form. We had a meeting with the competition principal of FIS to discuss whether the proposal was feasible or not. He affirmed the design and pointed out that it was an innovative design of form, and would also provide a new angle of view for the audience. In previous projects, we could only use the FlyCat camera system to broadcast the competitions and track the athletes’ moving from their backs. In Xueruyi, the audience are able to observe the athletes directly through the loop by simply sitting behind it.
The external diameter of the loop is 78 meters and the internal diameter is about 40 meters. These two “circles” are decentralized so that the fatter part of the loop becomes the supporting element, while also reduces the structural risk of the platform. The method was proposed by the vice minister of Zhangjiakou Competition Area Planning Department of Beijing Winter Olympics Committee. We could say Xueruyi Ski Jumping Center is a crystallization of the wise ideas produced by the group.
▼跳台滑雪中心效果图，顶部设置不同心的圆环，rendering of the Ski Jumping Center with a ring on the top
▼圆环施工鸟瞰，重心落在环粗的一侧，top view of the ring under construction, the center of gravity is on the thicker side
In addition to the loop structure, we had to consider the wind proofing capacity of Xueruyi. A ski jumping ramp should include a descending area between the take-off point (knoll) and the landing point, with a horizontal length of 150~180 meters. It is very sensitive to side wind so that a ski jumping venue is always located in the depression in a mountain range where wind could be better blocked. Side wind in a speed less than 3 meters per second is commonly accepted by athletes. However, the requirement can not be met by simply taking advantage of the terrain of the site. It’s often needed to build an extra huge windproof mesh system, which is expensive and will badly damage the mountain body. Pyeongchang Winter Olympics spent nearly 6 million Euros on building windproof system, but was still compelled to cancel a part of the games due to wind-proofing issues. That was a nightmare for the game organizer. The best ski jumping venue at present is in Whistler, Canada, where trees are high enough to create a natural windbreak. The natural conditions in Chongli is not that ideal. We worked with the the world’s foremost ski-jump ramp authority Ingo Hopfgartner from Austria to calculate the wind speed in our scheme. The terrain was simulated and a 3D model was created based on the terrain and climate data, leading to the conclusion that the side wind could be largely blocked by the side wings along the ramp, with its speed lower than 5 meters per second（99% of the time）. That is to say, If the wind speed could be limited to 3 meters per second and last for at least 48 seconds, the games will not be influenced by the wind. The only problem occurred at the foot of the mountain and could be solved by setting up a windbreak at the rear of the structure. The windbreak was less than 150 meters, which could save 70~80% budget for wind-proofing compared to average jumping platforms.
▼滑道两边的侧翼可以挡掉大部分风，the side wings along the inrun ramp could block most of the wind
▼跳台功能示意，program diagram of the ski jumping ramp
What are the features of the materials and technologies in Xueruyi? In which parts did foreign experts participated?
For this project, I am more willing to talk about the mountain restoration than the structure itself, because there was not that many high-end technologies used in the platform structure. However, as the project was built in a mountain environment, it was inevitable to carve part of the mountain body. The ecological environment of the mountain area in Chongli had been significantly influenced by be the long-time mining and other industries. The Winter Olympics should not further destroy the environment, but to be in parallel with the restoration of the eco-system of the mountains in Chongli. In Xueruyi project, restoration of the mountains was part of the rigid requirements proposed by the construction plan for the stadiums. We not only used common slope protections, but also cooperated with an Italian company specializing in mountain restoration. Their solution was to set up two layers of meshes: the first layer was attached to the bottom of the slope protection, and the upper layer was filled with nutrient medium that was customized after extracting the seeds of wild species found in the mountains. In this way, the local vegetation could be largely preserved and restored , even growing better than it used to be.
▼张家口奥林匹克体育公园，建设与山体修复同时进行，Zhangjiakou Olympic Sport Park, restoring the mountain during construction
▼跳台滑雪中心施工现场，使用护坡等技术进行山体修复，construction site of the Ski Jumping Center, using slope protections and other techniques to restore the mountain
The existing ski jumping ramps in the Winter Olympics use ceramic as the main material. Xueruyi is the first jumping platform to have an ice made ramp, which requires more sophisticated details to help athletes accelerate while keeping them safe. Athletes need to be very clear about when they have to take off and do styles. This can all happen within 0.3 seconds, but will lead to completely different results, determining whether they are able to get a medal. Ice made ramps are more ideal for athletes to remember the track than ceramic ones. In major large-scale projects, we rarely use new materials that have never been used before in order to minimize the risk, but there are still many opportunities in technical innovation. The latest motion-capture cameras can analyze athletes’ body movements through recognition system. The lighting fixtures for broadcasting that used to be installed beside the ramp can now be integrated into the transition ramp. The production of snowmaking systems are currently monopolized by two companies with their patented pipe systems being updated and redesigned every year. We chose one of them to cooperate with, both of whom are very reliable companies.
▼造雪雪枪细部，details of the snow lance
基本上所有工作都是由中国人主导的联合团队完成的。但是由于雪上项目在中国的普及程度有限，规则是外国人定的，项目相关的人体工学和物理数据捕获的标准也是他们制定的，因此跟竞赛本身和赛事组织相关的问题基本上都是请教来自欧洲和北美的专家，一些关键的技术问题由外国专家负责。所有坡面曲线，即我们从侧面看到的跳台、运动员飞行轨迹以及承接面曲线，都是由德国助滑道设计专家Hans-Martin Renn设计的。从2010年至今，他参与设计和维护更新了四百多座跳台。他可以用物理学方法精准模拟计算跳台上每一处的曲率，保证无论多差的运动员，在飞行过程中与下方可能密切接触的面之间的距离都不会超过三米，防止重大事故的发生。设计中的所有细节都是国内外专家一起商量决定的。斯洛文尼亚的Milos Sterle是助滑道设计方面的专家，也有建筑学教育背景，我们专门讨论过助滑道旁边工人使用的台阶怎样设计会比较美观。建造过程中，来自芬兰的年轻专家Santeri Kaariainen和中铁建工的工程师一起负责落地区混凝土的灌注，控制曲线达到比赛要求。
Basically all of the work was done by a joint team led by the Chinese team. Due to the limited popularity of snow sports in China, the regulations and standards were set by international institutions, including the standards for ergonomic and physical data collecting. Experts from Europe and North America had greatly assisted us with the event related issues and key technical challenges. The curved surfaces, including the jumping platform and the landing ramp, were all designed by German expert Hans-Martin Renn. Since 2010, he has been involved in the design and maintenance of over four hundred jump facilities. By accurately calculating the curvature of each surface in physics simulation method, the athlete’s relative height to the ground is limited to less than 3 meters, preventing any major accident from occurring. All the details of the design were discussed and decided by the local and international teams together. We also worked with Slovenian expert Milos Sterle who has an architect background to discuss on the feasible way to improve the appearance of the stairs beside the transition ramps used by the stuffs. During the construction, Santeri Kaariainen, a young specialist from Finland, together with the engineers from China Railway Construction Engineering Group, was in charge of the concrete casting work for the landing zone, ensuring the curvature of the surface to meet the requirements of the ski events.
▼赛道剖面曲线设计，design of the curves of the ski jumping ramp
The collaboration between local and international teams was both open and intimate, after which I became good friends with the former chairman of the Snowboard Committee of FIS and the chairman of the German Snowboard Facility Association. They are very optimistic about the potential of China in the promotion and popularization of jumping events, and are glad to see Chinese people joining in relevant associations to contribute more well-trained professional competitors to the world.
▼张利与外国专家讨论，Zhang Li discussing with foreign expert
In Shougang Big Air project, what are the sustainable features and strategies? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Snowboard jumping is a sport for young people, with athletes between the ages of 18 and 25 and a fan base of urban youth who are curious and eager to challenge new things. Therefore, a new built facility always has a different design of ramps and profiles, so does the one in Shougang project. What is more important, Shougang Big Air is the world’s first permanent ski jump venue, becoming the real home for the sport and its training. The minister of Snowboard Jumping Competition Committee was so happy to witness the completion of the project. He even jumped into the lake in Shougang park for an excited swim! In the future, a new section of structure can be added between the in-run and the take-off area to flatten the slope to meet the requirements for freestyle aerials competitions. It is also the world’s first Big Air venue that is adaptable to other types of sports events.
Snowboard jumping is more sensitive to wind than ski jumping. When jumpers fly to the highest point, they can be 14 meters from the landing surface, which is extremely risky. On the site of Shougang project, there are four existing cooling towers, which can theoretically block the wind and form a wind guide zone. However, the towers’ round shape will lead to turbulent air flow. We spent four months analyzing the site and once proposed a plan to drill a hole in the tower to let the platform cut it through. Consequently, this solution was abandoned due to the fragile structure of these cooling towers. The final position and orientation of the platform was the result of a comprehensive evaluating on a series of factors including the distance from the lake, the no-wind area and the snow covered surface.
▼圆形冷却塔会形成扰流，the round shape cooling tower would lead to turbulent air flow
▼场地轴测图，跳台设于湖边，与冷却塔脱开，axonometric of the site, the big air ramp is located near the river, being separated from the cooling towers
In the beginning I expected to build a big air in gray color. The community of Shougang park suggested that as the site was surrounded by industrial buildings with a monotonous palette composed of steel and concrete, they would like the big air to be an eye-catching landmark in in is context. We did a lot of research work to decide the colors for the structure, and finally chose all of the colors from the emblem of the Winter Olympics, thus forming the current rainbow-like appearance. As the red and yellow tones were not easy to largely blend into the industrial background, we enlarged the area of blue and green tones and applied them on the most conspicuous part of the structure. After the scheme was determined, we worked with three printing companies to develop a scheme of about 27 different colors, and arranged these colors along the profile of the project model to remove the inappropriate ones. Finally, the length of each color segment was carefully adjusted to reach the optimum result.
▼沿跳台曲线不同颜色分布，distribution of different colors along the curve of the ramp
“ it will be a quite relaxing experience to observe the city from a brand new perspective.”
Traditionally, people regarded roof as a component on the top of a building that create skyline for the city. With the development of urban concepts, human bodies are having greater freedom than before, which can be reflected in the accessibility of spaces. Urban residents are able to engage with more building facades, one of which is the roof. In our projects we insist to make the roof accessible as we believe that it could help to enhance the openness of the city, providing better activity places and humanistic care for the residents. Compared to staircases, ramps are less like a barrier, so it is always the priority for us to blur the boundaries between different floors and levels of a building and make them easier to be reached. The memories of life in an early age could effect our behavior. For example, if you draw a few squares on the ground and write some numbers in them, someone will naturally come and play hopscotch. Similarly, what we have done is to create a seemingly accessible surface and attract people to go upward. In a modern city with numerous open spaces, it will be a quite relaxing experience to observe the city from a brand new perspective. The experience of human interaction with the urban space will constantly change with the angle of view.
▼可以到达屋顶的项目 – 和丰创意广场
Projects with accessible roof – Hefeng Creative Plaza
Design and Media
“The aesthetic can not be “taught”. We should enhance communication on aesthetic as a social phenomenon, discussing it with more open attitude and trying to understand each other from the heart.”
Being simultaneously a professor in Tsinghua University，chief editor of World Architecture and founder of Atelier Teamminus, how do you switch freely among these three identities and how do you think of the relationship between them? Which one of the roles makes you most enjoyable?
Currently, I take teaching as my basic role and I would transform among the three identities of architect, teacher and public administrator. Being an architect is relatively similar to being a teacher because the profession of architect was created with a strong pedagogical nature. It is hard for architects to be absolutely objective and neutral. Every architect has his or her understanding and must respond to a series of thinking and doubts in practice. On the other hand, as a teacher I have to face students who are trying to find answers from me, which forces me to find out a construction logic in the complicated architectural reality. The two identities complement each other. Architectural media is totally different. It is more about an academic mission to work as the chief editor of World Architecture and I still need time to adapt. An architect is like an expresser sticking to his or her own ideas, while a media person works as an absorber. Some architects only believe in themselves and show strong identities in their works. However, the relationship between people and architecture is becoming much more important in this era and architects are supposed to help people solve problems in reality. Working in the media encourages me to step out of the frame set by architects, and enhance my understanding of the outside world, which is beneficial to my personal growth.
The one that I enjoy the most is being a teacher. The world is developing so fast that there is always the fear that you will become a silly person who is left behind. Teaching provides me an opportunity to slow down the process of getting silly. Everyday I work with students who are smarter and know much better about the future than me. In the process of educating, you are also the one who is being educated. This is a very wonderful experience.
▼设计工作中的张利，Zhang Li doing design work
▼杂志社工作场景，working scene in the magazine office
How do you think architectural media, especially traditional media in the digital era, can better serve architecture and the architectural industry? What do you think are the feasible measures to promote aesthetic education for the general public in China from the perspective of architectural media?
我认为以网络平台为主的媒体做得很好。过去，媒体是一种一对多、单向提供内容的平台。而现在，我们面对的是一种表面上多对多，实际上一对一的信息提供方式。读者打开网页，就可以直接与其所在的媒体平台对话。这是一个自上而下的平等的平台，是传统专业媒体所不具备的优势。历史上，从20世纪70年代到2000年初，建筑学被Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid等提倡一个人拯救全社会的英雄主义统治。其后，建筑师慢慢放弃了宏伟叙事，作为一个平等的人参与社会改良，实现人对未来生活的想象。在我看来，媒体帮助建筑学成长的最好方式就是秉承中立和真相。
I think that many the online media platforms are doing very well. In the past, media was a one-to-many platform that provided information in a one-way method. Today, we are engaging with platforms that are apparently many-to-many, but actually one-to-one in their way of working. Readers open a web page and directly dialogue with the media platform. It is an equal, top-down platform with advantages that traditional medias do not have. From the 1970s to the early 2000s, the journals and reports on architecture was occupied by architects like Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid, advocating a heroism that an individual could save the whole of society. Subsequently, architects had slowly abandoned the grand narratives and began to participate in social improvement as equal individuals who tried to accomplish the public’s imagination of the future. In my opinion, the best way for the media to help architecture grow is by upholding neutrality and truth.
The aesthetic can not be “taught”. As Kant claim that an aesthetic judgment is based on feeling, and in particular on the feeling of pleasure or displeasure.The aesthetics of an era is often a true reflection of the human cultural development of that period. It is not fair to forcefully advance or “promote” the taste of others. What we have to do is not to upgrade the aesthetic education, but to enhance communication on aesthetic as a social phenomenon, discussing it with more open attitude and trying to understand each other from the heart.
The Media should allow critics who hold quite different opinions to speak out, otherwise the esthetic field of vision will become narrow and the platform will deviate from its two critical qualities: neutrality and authenticity. From the aspect of academic development, western scholars has developed a system of truth-pursuing, beginning with the empirical philosophical debates in the Middle Ages. They believe that a judgement should be dependent on the authenticity rather than correctness. On the contrast, Chinese culture is more about the pursuing for goodness . We focus on the correctness of a thing and try to make consensus through discussion before we move forward, which leads to the result that when putting it in specific circumstances, it may hardly make sense. China’s traditional architectural education was in the same situation where criticism was often unacceptable. Truth-seeking is essential for critics, and I believe that China’s current situation has been changing for the better. University students are inured to learning from negative feedback. After these students entering society, I believe that China’s architectural industry will be much more inclusive to different voices, presenting a more diverse range of opinions.
▼张利发表讲座，Zhang Li making a lecture
“We hope to handle the relationship between human and architectural interfaces, providing people with more freedom of moving.”
Starting from the roof space, our practice will continue being dedicated to increasing the accessibility of public spaces and will gradually turn to the approach for handling the relationship between human and architectural interfaces, providing people with more freedom of moving. This is why we are also working on projects of outdoor sports venues. Using the experience we gained from these projects, we are able to introduce some unconventional design concepts in public place-making. This is also a direction we are going to explore.
▼正在进行的项目 – 清华国际交流中心
Processing projects – Tsinghua International Communication Center
▼正在进行的项目 – 三山五园艺术中心
Processing projects – Sanshanwuyuan Art Center
Be optimistic, and be convinced that human power will always push civilization in a better direction. Keep faith in both architecture and human nature, and some day you will benefit from what you believe.