gooood team interviews architects from all over the world. Your recommendations and suggestions are welcomed!gooood Interview NO.8 introduces Swiss architect Christian Kerez. ELcroquis No.145 reported his projects from 2000 to 2009. Recently, he made several practices in China. Let’s see what breakthroughs he made in new works and what viewpoints he wants to share with us.
Christian Kerez在gooood发表的过往作品链接.Below are Christian Kerez’s projects published on gooood: ：
湖景别墅 House with a Lake View
郑州龙湖CBD区C3-10地块办公楼设计 ZhengZhou Office
瑞士Holcim业务中心 Holcim Competence Center
华沙美术馆 Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
一墙之宅 House with one wall, Zurich, Switzerland
广州三馆一场国际竞赛，广州，中国 “Three Museums And One Square “ Competition,Guangzhou
↑ Christian Kerez
你的第一个建筑很小，但是看起来很重；后面很多建筑很大，但又看起来很轻。近期的广州项目”Three Museums And One Square “仿佛又回到了最初很重的状态，但是又和最初的“重”不同。这个给人感觉不一样的项目，为什么会是这样的？项目及其背景给你带来了什么样的思考，从而有了不同的发展？
Your first project is small-scale, but it looks so heavy; the following ones are large-scale buildings, but very light. Recently, “Three Museums AndOne Square” are returning to the heaviness again, yet different from that “heavy” of the house, why? What enlightenment, inspired by this early project and background, leads to the difference?
↑ Oberrealta教堂 Chapel in Oberrealta
↑ 广州三馆一场 Three Museums And One Square, Guangzhou, China
The chapel in Oberrealta is very modest, it has a simple form. It is like a drawing of a child, it looks like a very common house but at the same timeit is a monument for a house, that once was standing at this exposed point in the landscape.It is a sculpture of house but not a house itself. This isachieved through the monolithic expression by casting the entire house in concrete.
The Guangzhou projects are somehow related to this small project because they are like sculptures in a landscape too, but their expression is moreabstract and more organic. They rather resemble rocks in a landscape of rice fields. We achieved that through very simple geometric forms like spheres, circles, cylinders or banded and turned lines. Also the scale is totally different and these buildings are not representing a small communityvillage in the Swiss mountains but they are representing one of the most important cities in China, Guangzhou, which receives 8 million visitorsevery year. The other project you are referring to, are the towers,which I designed for Zhengzhou. They are light because they are translating the 120 meter high building into numerous scales by repeating endlessness. Rather small architectonic elements, they review the sheer height of buildings, but as you mention it is not only an exercise in exploring the meaning of scale into a contemporary scale of architecture in China to a traditional scale of timber structure. It Is also a pragmatic, realistic reduction of weight.With the Zhengzhou tower, we could reduce the weight of the building up to 70%, which would also be a economical advantage.
I think you inject more new ideas in Chinese projects than into the former ones. Which new ways of thinking do you have from Chinese projects? What’s your understanding of Chinese characteristics? You once mentioned in Zhengzhou Project“express the spirit of Chinese buildings from the internal”, could you please explain more?
↑ 郑州项目 Zhengzhou Project
我在很多国家工作过，而中国是我最喜欢的国家。这不仅仅是我个人的想法，也是很多国际建筑师的共同感受。我想大部分原因是因为中国的项目规模都很具挑战性，如Herzog de Meuron和RemKoolhass其他国家的项目规模远不能和其中国项目相比。我个人对这个问题也很感兴趣，好奇中国的城市化将如何发展，对现代城市规划或现代建筑又会带来怎样的改变。目前我们已经认识到这些变化通常都是通过建筑去体现。所有国外和中国建筑师都会被问到“联系中国传统”的问题，我个人对此也很感兴趣。
So far, I have worked in many different countries. China is my favorite place to be, not only for me but also for many other architects who are working in the International basis. I think the reason for many architects is that China introduce a new scale to their work. For example Herzog de Meuronor RemKoolhass, they have never done anything which is comparable in dimension to their Chinese projects. I personally also feel very
much attracted by the question if the future urbanistic development in our present day will mostly be happening in China and if the urbanizationof our time takes place in China, how would this change the appearance of modern urbanistic planning or the modern architecture as far as weknow it. How would effect that all this event s take place in China be expressed through the architectures. In this sense, the question, which is asked through all foreign or local architects working here to relate to Chinese tradition interests me a lot.
But I do not work with metaphor, I do not relate too literally to any Chinese common places.I rather try to express through media of architecture,through the space and things, which I experienced in this country that I did experience anywhere else as strong as here. For example, this workingin a abstracted conceptional way with references is always thought as trigger point for a new experience in the media of space, in architectonicalspace.
In Leutschenbach School Project, you mentioned that “it looks expensive, but is actually cheap. That’s the loyalty to my career.” Now, a large number of Chinese buildings cost much money, but look very cheap. Could you please share more cases which look expensive but are actually cheap? And how can you achieve that?
The school in Leurschenbach didn’t cost as much as other school built in the same town because the space is organized in a efficient way. We didn’twaste any surfaces, the whole program was organized in a very compacted arrangement. On the other side, the way how we built it was quite expensive, so if you calculate how much it costs per cube meter, it would be one of the most expensive schools, but on the other side, since thebuilding was so small, it was still a comparable school. I think it’s important for investors to carefully differentiate between these 2 things: do you want to spend a lot of money on the sheer surfaces of the building or do you maybe want to make it more compact but then allow yourself to makeit more expensive on the other way round. I would say the main importance is not how much money you spend on the building,it is that it isimportant for you how you spend it. In the end, to organize a school house in a compacted way was not out of modesty or not out of economical reason, but it was to create the space where no space is lost, where all the spaces are organized together and the impression you get while walkingthrough this building is actually that the staircase and the hall are also looking very generous even if they are only the result of an efficient organization.
Regarding to restrictions, I can feel from your narration about Leutschenbach: the project itself had many restrictions no matter from the cost or the buildings’ functions. But you found a balance among those restrictions, and eventually created a very unique design, for example compacted spaces which are relatively cheap but functional. Have you ever experienced such restrictions when you did Chinese projects? If yes, how do you coordinate with the restrictions in your design? If not, how do you deal with the loss of restrictions?
My understanding of architecture consist in that I believe architecture is in a discipline- a discipline which has own rules and codes. Each project is not just simply following existing conventions but I try to overcome them, to end up in the end with rules that are strictly related to the disciplineof architecture itself that reveal the fundamentals in architecture. I think that China is the ideal location for this research. Because China is lookingfor new rules in architecture. It doesn’t just want to take over existing conventions and expectation from European or American standards.
A lot of foreigners only fulfill the conventions and expectations that they feel are of international character when they work in China. The othersjust work in their own style no matter if he work in China or any other countries. I try to work in a totally different way. I try to come up with newideas from one to other which are just driven by a new program and new locations. I try to develop out of this expectations to work with Chinese traditional culture, different concepts and architectural space,to find a architectural space which I thought could only be expressed in China andnowhere else, namely the concept of ornamental space, the endless structure space or the ambivalence space. In this sense, I try to respect the expectation for a new traditional Chinese architecture, but I try to approach it with an abstract conceptional understanding of these given scope.
当您在描述广州的项目时，您说那些形式”resemble rocks in a landscape of rice fields。而当您回答第二个问题，外国建筑师如何将他们的设计与中国的传统做联系的时候，您说“But I do not work with metaphor”。您是否觉得这两个有些矛盾？如果不是metaphor,您能否举个具体的例子来阐述您讲的”I rather try to express through media of architecture”,中的media of architecture。
In Guangzhou project, You mentioned that the buildings “resemble rocks in a landscape of rice fields”. However, in the answer of the second question about “how the foreign architects connect their designs with Chinese traditions”, you said that “But I do not work with metaphor”. Do you think these two answers are contradictory? You also said that “I rather try to express through media of architecture”, if it is not through metaphor, could you give us a specific example to explain the meaning of “express through media of architecture”?
↑ 广州项目 Guangzhou project
You are right if you say that I attempt to build a museum like a rock in a landscape garden is a metaphorical approach and that this is a contradiction to my general design approach, however this approach was translated into architecture and its own logic, the building doesn’t resemble a rock in terms of literal expression, much more important become during the working process, the idea that the building is not a pure object in space, but it’s a object which is also creating most of space inside itself. Guangzhou has 8 millions visitors a year which as much as Paris. Much more important than to have location for exhibition on calligraphy and painting was therefore to create a public space to welcome this huge amount of people coming to Guangzhou. The museum was meant to be a extension of a newly created landscape garden. And the shape of the
volume is created by multiplying the main shell of interior space toward the outside. Therefore, the museum has no literal resembles with rock. It is build out of spheres in a perfect abstract geometry.
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