Overseas NO.74: Shu Du

The No.74 episode is about Shu Du, who graduated from Columbia University and University of Washington, and is now working for BIG

Project Specs


A bosom friend afar brings distant land near. The Oversea album shares the lives of Chinese living abroad with all. The No.74 episode is about Shu Du, who graduated from Columbia University and University of Washington, and is now working for BIG.


Why going abroad?


I moved here initially with my family.


What impressed you the most when you are abroad?


I first came here in elementary school. Everything back then was very blurry.


What do you miss the most about China?


Family, friends and food.


Will you come back China? Why?


I don’t have a definite plan about where I would stay.


Is it more distinct to view China in a different environment after going abroad? Any thought?


China has always been a nation that’s extremely complicated yet interesting. Things are changing in China every year, and so does my perception.


What makes the curriculum of your school different from other architecture schools?


To me, Columbia University was rather diverse, political and sociological. I appreciated the dynamic conversations and opinionated atmosphere among the student body. Those three years were invaluable in a way that they drove me to think across cultures and context, embrace uncertainty with unflinching fear and challenge the status quo. University of Washington, on the other hand, emphasized more on tectonics, sustainability and pragmatism.  I was very grateful to have such a grounded and supportive program during my undergraduate years. I was inspired to conceptualize problems as opportunities and translating ideas architecturally.


What are the characteristics and interesting points of your firm?


I really enjoy BIG’s diversity and collegial office culture.


Who is your favorite artist (in wider range such as art, music, movie)? What is the influence?

Edward Hopper,Egon Schiele和Sigur Rós。我不知道我喜欢的艺术家是否有给我的创作带来很直接的影响,但是我如何观察和表达,是和我喜欢的艺术家有分不开的关系的。我认为我欣赏的和我去创作的是一个相互影响的关系。

Edward Hopper, Egon Schiele and Sigur Rós. I don’t know if artists have very immediate impact on any of my work, but they certainly change the way I perceive, think and express.  I think what I like and what I do have a reciprocal relationship.


What fascinates viewers the most in your portfolio in your opinion?


In terms of architecture, I have so much more to learn and improve. Personally, I enjoy how my portfolio coheres with my personality— I can see myself in it. I also like to have very little description about my work. How others might interpret my work through limited drawings is imperative and captivating.


When did you start to follow gooood? Any suggestions?


I started using gooood about two years ago. It is a very well-organized and inspiring platform with a collection of great works and stories.






Room within a Room
Bio Campus
Date: Winter 2016
Critic: Phu Hoang
Architect Magazine 2016 Sloan Award


这个项目是在纽约布鲁克林的运河边设计一个小学的生态教室。这个生态教室主要的设计概念是想提供一种让每个教室在视觉,听觉和空间上有不可避免的重叠。教室学科包括盆景, 植物绘画, 手制化妆品,厨艺,还有插花。 根据小学生集中力的周期和记忆曲线的科学分析, 这些教室间在短时间内有不同信息的重叠和重复可以让小学生有更好的学习成果和记忆深化。

My proposal for this Bio campus is a new interdisciplinary studying experience that allows plant related subjects such as botanic, plant drawing, handmade cosmetics, cuisine, and ikebana all interact with 
each other in an unavoidable way. Based on human desirable attention span and memory curve patterns, the activities’ overlaps and proximity allow students to actively learn and memorize things better. The room within a room and layer-overlapping concept breaks the traditional inside and outside pattern, as well as the conventional classroom division and completely eliminates any corridors. Different micro weather conditions are achieved by the building’s topography for different plants to grow in their suitable weather condition.


Initial Concept Diagram: Preliminary concept models testing how rooms can intersect and change to accommodate different programs.


Programmatic Sketches: Testing out which programs intersect and how the circulation will reinforce the learning experience.

集中力以及记忆曲线的示意图:小学生集中力的周期和记忆的曲线是这个设计概念的一个研究背景。传统上的一节课,老师只会教一个科目,时间大致40到60 分钟。但是科学研究表明,小学生们常常只能专注一个学科10到15分钟。所以这个重叠教室的概念让小学生们在同样的课程时间内从相邻的教室学到更多不同的内容。这样的学习环境让学生们在有效的集中时间内不断的重复学习,加深记忆和理解。

Attention Span and Memory Curve Diagram: Traditional class teaches only one subject and can last up to one hour. However scientifically proven, younger kids typically can only concentrate around 10-15 minutes at a time. Thus I am suggesting a new learning methodology that allows students to learn different subjects during one-hour time interval and repeat some of those same subjects again during the same day. This way the required attention span for one subject is shortened and students will also memorize their subjects better due to the repetition and rehearsal of information.


This plan concentrates on demonstrating the relationship among different classrooms and how different plants relate to different weather conditioned rooms.



Standing at Ikebana classroom looking towards handmade cosmetics classroom and drawing classroom. Cosmetics classroom relies on taking samples from Ikebana classroom while drawing classroom look down
 at different species to sketch and learn.


When there is an exhibition, library and reading rooms will be used concurrently to provide more flexible space and circulation. The in-between outdoor courtyard allows visitors to enjoy a different micro weather. Reading area in the indoor library cantilevers over the water garden forms a relaxing and serene atmosphere. Sidewalks around the pond can be used for temporary seating and gathering.





Unfold Home Wall
A complex Housing in Bronx, New York Rethinking How to Retain Identity in Big Cities
Critic: Charles D. Eldred
Teammates: Renyuan Wang
Date: Fall 2015


这个项目,我们尝试着去挑战如何让大城市里的居民在自己的住宅区找回自己的鲜明个性。通过对传统住宅单元边界的扩展,以及使用一小部分的单元内空间与周围邻居形成共享的半公开区域 – “共享结点”,来实现对这种小区独特特点的设计。

This housing project challenges how to bring back Identity in a Holistic living environment. By expanding the traditional Unit’s boundary and allowing interior space to serve both private owners and public neighbors, a semi-public area is created which we called it “Social Knot”.

每一个共享结点的功能都与众不同,如何去运用它们则由住户们自己去决定。 功能定义来自于住户希望与他人分享什么,比如自己的兴趣爱好,或是专业的知识。例如一家住户喜欢烹饪,并且希望和他人分享美食,那么这个共享节点就会把他一部分的厨房变成一个与邻居共享的微型餐厅;或是一家住户是花店主人而他们的邻居很喜欢设计小工艺品, 那么这两家之间的共享结点可能会成为一个小型的合作工作室,来交换不同的想法与设计灵感。其他功能也包括小花园,图书交换,电影或游戏分享,咖啡室等等。不同的共享结点都展示着主人们不同的个性爱好,使得整个住宅体更有特点和人性。

Each Social Knot’s function comes from part of the home and presents his/her own identity. Individuals can decide how to use the social knots. A diverse variety of programs including, Garden, cafe, book exchange, study room and game room extend out from each unit’s boundary, therefore, neighbors can easily access them on the way home or just few steps out on a lazy weekend.

整体一楼设计则注重提供一个开阔的公共活动区域, 所有一楼的空间都是由楼上住户所经营的小型商铺。二楼平面图则展示了每一家的户型中都有可自由转变或旋转的墙,来与走廊或邻居家之间的空间转变成共享结点。

Ground floor plan, aiming to have an open and flexible public access, all units on ground floor are small business
 operated by residents living above. Second floor plan, demonstrating how each unit have multiple layers and the outer layer can be used either privately or publicly in the “Social Knot”.



Few studies about how social knot being received from inside and outside.

整体一楼设计则注重提供一个很开阔的社交与公共活动区域, 所有一楼的空间都是由楼上住户所经营的小型商铺。半开放的墙体让人们路过时不自觉地就能看见小商铺里卖的东西或是供应的食物。这样,慵懒的周末,社区内的人不用到市中心也能享受到这些在小商圈才有的活动,从而建立起更加紧密的邻里关系,也让整体的住宅项目与众不同。

Ground floor is mostly public, made of different social knots and can be performed as a Sunday’s market. Flexible thresholds and 
half open facade allow people to wander through and shop around easily. Above are all private residential units with residential social knots, balconies and public staircases.





Individualism through Cracks
A gymnasium in New York focusing on individualism
Critic: Paula Tomisaki
Date: Fall 2014

这个设计项目是让我们在Bronx一片密度较大的区域设计一个运动馆。周边的运动馆通常都是以拥有更多客户作为主要目标,使得运动健身的人密度很大,整体运动体验大大降低。同时,很多人在有很多陌生人同时健身运动的时候,会感觉很尴尬,不自在。在这样的一个大环境下,为整个社区内喜欢运动健身的人提供一个私密,紧凑的空间变得格外重要, 尤其是提供一个可以和朋友一起,不受束缚运动的机会。整体项目的设计灵感来自于对石头的观察。当石头在自然的环境下被慢慢风化,产生裂缝,原本的整体变成了几个分裂却某种程度上链接的个体。将裂缝的概念延伸到运动馆的设计,自然就产生了在一个体量下相对私密和分散的运动区域。

This Gymnasium is located in a high-density urban area, Bronx, New York. All the gyms close to the site are designed to maximize their occupancy. Exercising rooms target to accept as many people as possible. How
ever a lot of people encounter pressure or experience embarrassment while working out with many strangers. The immediate response to this issue is to divide the traditional gyms into smaller spaces for people to have the option to exercise alone or with a small group of friends. The strategy I used to divide spaces is inspired by nature. When a stone starts to have a crack, it is naturally divided into smaller pieces. This design borrows the idea of “crack“ to divide the building.

1.大堂 | Lobby
2.前台 | Reception
3.攀岩馆 | Rock Climbing
4.潜水馆 | Scuba Diving
5.器材存储室 | Equipment Storage
6.户外平台 | Atrium
7.小型瑜伽馆 | Small Yoga
8.洗手间 | Restroom
9.咖啡室 | Cafe
10.大型瑜伽室 | Yoga Classroom
11.理疗室 | Jacuzzi
12.理疗室 | Jacuzzi
13.女洗手间 | Women’s Restroom
14.男洗手间 | Men’s Restroom
15/16/17: 温泉泳池 | Hot Spring Pool
18/19 : 潜水馆准备区域 | Scuba Diving Prepare Space
20: 浅水池 | Shallow Pool


Cracks grow wider and narrower to accommodate different program needs while reasonably divide the gym into smaller and more private spaces.



Perspective inside of the scuba dive pool looking towards the interior triple height courtyard and Yoga room. The courtyard facilitates cafe and circulation bridges. Natural sunlight comes in from the skylight crack. Visitors experience an outside moment when they cross the courtyard.





What if – People Grow Their Own Food at Home
City Block, The Why Factory Scenario Research
Critic: Winy Maas, Javier Arpa , Adrien Ravon
Date: Fall 2016




项目初期,Winy Mass要求我们每个人先提出两个假设的方案,进而从中选择更有深度的方案做为最终课题。两个初期假设分别是:1. 假设人们在自己的房间中不用行走也可满足日常所需。2. 假设人们在自己的家中种植每日所需的食物。



接下来通过对密度,多样性,透光性,合作性和可行性进行参数化的设计和分类,进而从中找到最佳融合点以此来展开新型住宅概念的设计。 住户们选择种植自己最喜欢的食物,而食物的种类决定了对于光线的需要程度。而与周围邻居互相分享食物则决定了小型区域的设计。最终为整体社区提供充分的交通循环使得各个小社区与外界社区进行食物或生活所需品的交换。

“What’s the scenario? A constantly mutating sequence of possibilities.”

This scenario – WHAT IF – people grow their own food 
at home, responds to the world is facing the problem 
of a finite amount of arable land, whereas its human population keeps growing. So what if one day people cannot buy any food outside anymore or people might fight about food so everyone needs to own their own land to survive.

This model analyzes the city block under two sets of different parameters, Density, Diversity, Porosity, Collectivity and Accessibility and Different Food categories.Food Catalogue.

Different types of food with its related calculation and configuration in order to be self-sustained for one person.  How much food can we produce? How much food is per person needed? How much space is needed in order to achieve self-sustainable…? Designers must devise a method for confronting the ever increasing number of parameters that the city needs to address.

“We need to take different scenarios into account instead of continue to engage the task of planning and designing for new settlement in fixed, singular and unresponsive ways that presume the preferred outcome is the only one worth elaborating. Designers need to begin thinking in terms of scenarios, contingency and variability.”





Serviced Landscape
A new type of community for Ger District in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Date: Fall 2017
Critic: Joshua Bolchover and John Lin



当地的居民由于先天地形的限制,不得不通过挖掘掉一部分的土地, 填充到自家园内其他区域来得到一片相对平整的土地。而这种做法确实也是最有效的方法。通过对于连接在每户栅栏的地形进行设计改造,进而运用所产生的空间作为共享区域——新的“栅栏”,让这个社局整体上不在单调,而显得具有生机。与此同时,运用地形所产生的公共空间也成为了这个依山而建的社区储藏地下水的最佳储藏室。

▼下图这些视频截图记录了我们在当地对这片区域进行的一些人文及地理环境的观察,VIDEO FOOTAGE – A short film demonstrating the existing issues and conditions

“Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is a city transitioning from a nomadic to sedentary lifestyle. When the country transitioned from an economic hardship to a democratic economy, nomadic herdsman sell their livestock and move to the city in search of a better life. When they arrive each claims a plot of land, builds a fence around it and erects a traditional felt tent or ger. The scale and speed of settlers has disrupted and pressurized the limited city resources challenging employment, healthcare, education and other basic urban services. As this population has no prior experience of living amongst others – some state there is no word for “community” in Mongolian – or in situ, in one home on a single plot of land, it’s a unique and urgent situation.” – Studio premise

In order to take down the existing dysfunctional and segregating fences but still remaining each plot’s property ownership, I applied the dig and fill strategy on the existing topography to create different neighbor sharing programs that can define the boundary while allow residents to share some spaces due to their financial and environmental difficulties.

Based on what the residents have already done, dig and fill strategy is the most sufficient and natural way to create flat terrace. These pockets along with the existing topography are treated as a serviced landscape that can bring in a sense of community while allowing more Ger to retain on the site. This proposal defines a new typology for living, maintaining more nomadic lifestyle close to the city.


Overall Site plan illustrating how to use dig and fill strategy along with the existing topographic conditions to create a new property boundary without placing fences.


Shared Toilet and Shared Green House. Section demonstrates the dig and Fill strategy and how water system is incorporated underground.

由于先天地形的优势,挖掘和填充所产生的公共空间和隐形的栅栏丰富了人们的生活活动。小社区内的社交活动都围绕着邻里间共享的公共区域展开, 进而延展整个社区,保存了具有传统象征的帐篷,原生态的环境和淳朴的的社会风气。

Due to the steep site condition, a dig
and fill strategy is applied to create these pocket spaces for neighbors to share certain programs. This view illustrates how the site escapes from the fences and starts to allow some degree of their original nomadic life. A Mongolian slum defining a new typology for their living community maintaining more nomadic lifestyle in a more urban context.

学校or工作单位:哥伦比亚大学,华盛顿大学,BIG,Rice+Lipka Architects,Toyo Ito & Associates,Architects,2×4,CallisonRTKL
When: since childhood
Where: Berkeley, Davis, Anchorage, Seattle, New York
Who: Shu Du
From: Chengdu, Sichuan
School & Firm: Columbia University, University of Washington;BIG, Rice+Lipka Architects, Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, 2×4, CallisonRTKL
Contact: lsusandul@gmail.com

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