Ramble is album with several sub albums. Here is one: Office in Hutong. Beijing, as the capital of China, has a long history, and currently is going through fast economical development. Hutong, as the traditional urban typology of Beijing city, is slowly disappearing. We try to find the offices in those Hutong, discover their ideas and life.
Nafu Hongtong is located in Dong City district, from Chongzhuyuan North Road to the east to Banqiao Street to the north and connects Ji’ansuo North Road and Hengshilan Hutong in the middle. In Ming Dynasty, Imperial Household Department was sited here, which was abandoned after Qing Dynasty. In the early years of the Republic of China, the mayor of Beijing Dubi Xue change the name of this Hutong from Neifu to Nafu meaning of receiving blessings.
The day visiting Penda is a sunny day. Just like the popular word “Beijing becomes Beiping after snow”, Nafu Hongtong was quite with a kind of old-fashion sence.
No.13 of Nafu Hongtong was a factory many years ago. The two stories buildings constructed by red bricks has tow wings. Penda is one of 3 or 4 architecture offices based here. Going through the arcade in the middle of south wing, the entrance of Penda is just at the estern side
关于我们 About penda
槃达是一支充满激情的国际创意团队，由 Chris Precht和孙大勇共同创立于2013 年，总部位于北京和维也纳。
通过众多的国际竞赛，槃达的作品得到了国内外众多设计奖项肯定。包括2013 年获得德国Tile Award 奖。2014 年槃达作品鸿坤美术馆获得金外滩奖，2015 年槃达的三个作品入围Archdaily的“年度最佳设计”奖，并凭借“雪宅”项目获得美国Architizers A+住宅建筑奖。槃达也多次被杂志、报纸、书籍和网络媒体报道包括 Frame, Interior Design Magazine, Archdaily, Designboom, UED, gooood, Designwire等，在业内受到广泛关注。
Penda is a fresh and motivated team of international creatives based in Beijing and Vienna. In 2013, Chris Precht and Dayong Sun founded Penda in the belief that architecture can serve as a bridgeconnecting nature, culture and people to a higher standard of living.By drawing different perspectives from western and eastern history, Penda seeks the fundamentals in architecture and interprets them,integrating them into one cross-cultural design-language. Therefore, we are interested in the questions of how life has evolved throughout history, what has influenced this evolution,and how architecture can add our quality of life in the future.We love what we do, and are truly passionate about architecture & design, developing every project with uttermost dedication.
Impelled by our passion for nature and its materials, we design projects which connect people to our natural environment, and seek opportunities to create spacesthatnurture life.Living in an economic age of“larger, higher,& faster,” we see the possibility of architecture’sserving as a countermovement,a steady and long-lasting profession which offers a constant in a fast-changing era.
Therefore, architecture should respond in a responsible, technological and ecological way to our society and environment’s climatic, demographic and geopolitical changes.Penda`s interdisciplinary team works on projectsranging from master plans and high-rises to residential andinterior design, as well asproduct and graphic design. Besides several competition wins, in 2014 penda won theHongkun Museum of Contemporary Arts Interior Design Award for the year’s “Best Interior Project”, as well as the 2013 Tile Award. Penda had 3 projects among the finalists in Archdaily’s“Best of the Year” award, and is a finalist in Architizers 2015A+Award, with the Snow Apartment.
We’ve also garnered recognition in a considerable number of magazines, newspapers, books and online media. Our work has been exhibited in various acknowledged art galleries and museums, including the Architecture Biennale in Venice, the Künstlerhaus in Salzburg, Architecture Chine in Lyon, France, and at 798 in Beijing.
Why did you choose a Beijing hutong for your office location? Has anything fun happened there? Please share with us.
Da Yong: Due to our team’s dispersed living locations, the hutong location is centralized and easy for most of our staffto get to.
In addition, a hutong location grants interoffice access, especially for our cat, MiaoMiao, who likes hutong life very much. Once, MiaoMiao ran away from home for half a month. We were looking for her everywhere, and our neighbors were helping a lots, even calling us to check on MiaoMiao’s health after he returned. It’s just one example of the warmth and human connections available in a hutong office.
Chris:I had never been to China before,China was more like a movie location in my imagination, a place for Kungfu and such. When I came to China the first time, I saw a lot of older people doing Taichi, singing Chinese opera, running in the park and walking in the hutongs. It was a fresh new perspective to me that I liked a lot. So when we chose the location for the office, I hoped to live in this kind of atmosphere. This a really appealing aspect of life in Beijing for me.
▼ penda养的叫妙妙的猫 cat, MiaoMiao
How has the hutong influenced your work environment over time?
Da Yong: We’ve been experiencing hutong life for about two years now. The first year,we were in a single family hutong with a kitchen, nearby Yonghegong. We had an aiyi who felt like family with us, cookinglunch and generally taking the stress out of work. Then we moved to an office nearby Jingshan Park without a kitchen, where everyone brings lunch from time to time and eats together, like a big family. Once in a while we would go to Jingshan Park, overlooking the Forbidden City, and think, “Now this is Beijing life.”
This kind of working environment and direct exposure to traditional architecture subtly influenced our approach to architecture. Therefore, traditional Chinese culture plays an increasing part in our success as a firm.
Chris:Because I’m a “big nose”, neighbors often peeped at me from our office window. I was uncomfortable in the beginning, but after we got to know each more, they became very friendly, always smiling to me. It’s a very different experience compared to Austria, where people are not so open. I enjoy the ease of making friends, andthis makes me like working in Beijing more and more.
▽ Chris 玩乒乓球, Chris is playing table tennis
How did you guys meet and decide to work together? How do you divide your work?
Da Yong: Chrisand I used to work at Graft, where our relationship became“heart to heart”. Our work stylesare very complementary. Due to my native Chinese status, I put more thought and effortinto engagement, negotiation, and execution of Chinese projects.Chrisparticipates more in design concept and ideation. For foreign projects, the rolesreverse. We have a consensus about design philosophy, and hope that penda design can be ever more responsive to the environment and humanity, rather than a cathartic play of design. This was my heart’s desire before I established the firm. I’m happy that we can develop this idea and practice it step by step during our cooperation. Along with business expansion, we divide work based on the project, but the discussion between us is always fluid, always interactive. Only after a concept has reached consensus, do we proceed to the next phase.
Chris: Dayong and I were colleagues at another firm, where we met in 2008. I had only come for an internship; while Dayongwas just leaving for Berlin. We only said hi to each other. When I returned for a full-time job in 2009, Dayong also returned to the Beijing office. We worked together on the same project; Dayong was in charge of a hotel public area, and I oversaw the guest room interior design. We had lots chances to communicate. Dayong often asked me soft wear questions, and I asked many technical site questions, too. From that time, we started our cooperation.
Penda is a very productive office. We have reported 13 projects of you, not including the projects before chris joined in . 7 of them are completed or partly completed. Some unbuilt projects are wonderful, too. How do make to be that produtive and highly completed simultaneously in China? Would you like to share the method of design and the management and the experience of how to control projects in the last phases.
Da Yong: Thank you for giving credit to our work. Unfortunately we still don’t have a large-scale architecture project to win recognition. Most architecture schemes stay at the competition or concept phase. But because the purpose of establishing the firm was the love we have for architecture, we concentrateon all work to the utmost; therefore, there is no small project to us. We won’t ignore any opportunity for showing our creativity, because we enjoy the process ofcreation and discussion. As to completed projects, we have spent prodigious energy in their realization. It’s undeniable that domestic construction is rough work, so we need to spend a lot of time on site to solve problems, or consider coping strategies at the beginning of the design. Hong Café is good example. Everything was easy to realize and control, so the design could be duplicated across the country. High-productivity and creativity comes from a relaxed mind set. Chris once talked about how he wakes up with inspiration every day, so there is no need for alarm. I’m the same way,getting excited as soon as I have some ideas, continually adding new thoughts, denying, confirming, denyingagain……a project’s realization is the process of denying and confirming.It’s painful but affirming at the same time. It’s a very hard thing to controlin the later stages, most of all explaining to and persuading the client and contractor to respect the original design. I don’t like putting strong pressure on people, so there is a need to progressively induce each step, until the result makeseveryone happy. So adesigner needs to take onresponsibility and great mental stress, requiring superlative enthusiasm and confidence during the scheme phase to make it to the end.
Which of your projects would you call the most impressive, and why?
Da Yong: I would say the first realized project–Hongkun Art Museum. At that time, there were only Chris, myself, and two other people – Chris was in Austria. I went to do the presentation with the design plan by myself.There was nothing wrong with the design, but the client saw me and thoughtI might be representing a fake company. It was a very tough learning experience for me, and left me temporarily hopeless. I didn’t realize that a designer is judged not only by his creativity, but also his experience, and thedramatic effect of his presentation. I remember going back to the office in tears. But Chris was there for me, comfortingme over the phone. He unexpectedly flew to Beijing the next day and didn’t change his schedule, even though the flight was delayed, making sure the airline would get him to Beijing the next day. I was very touched when I saw him. I cried again, happy tears this time. We established penda together based on this kind of support and trust. Hongkun Art Museum became our masterpiece, as well as a vindication of our partnership.
Your projects defy any fixed style or unifying concept.How do you perceive your style? And what’s your own architectural concept?
Da Yong: We don’t care if we have a unified style or not, because style is just a way of solving a problem.Every project has different issues,so we can not use one style to solve all challenges. As I’ve mentioned, we emphasizethedesigner’sperspective. That perspectiveinforms ourjudgment;that judgment decides our choice, and that choice determines a result. Because we always insist on exploring environmental and humanistic concerns, every project matches these two points. We strive for design thatbenefitsboth theenvironment and humanity, and eschew designsthat aren’t.This extends even to the coolest plan – if it doesn’t benefit, we won’t do it! I think designers today should design with responsible attitudes, because our work directly changes environment and peoples’ lives. If we are not satisfied with things, then we should start by changingourselves. As Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and I can move the world.”
What is the biggest challenge in doing projects in China? How is the process different from an overseas one?
Dayong: There are a lot of challenges to doing projects in China.The biggest challenge is adjusting measures to local conditions, also called connecting to the ground. Over the years, the rapid development of economy has broadened our field of vision and insight. It’s impossible to fool people with a couple of ideas.Designersmust become more special and professional, as well as design attentively, in order to earn society’s respect. The biggest difference is that overseas, there has been a role for professional designers since the Industrial Revolution, so the social foundation is very solid, and the education system is very mature and professional. Thus, foreign designers have more respect from society. In China, the designer appearedonlytwentyor thirty years ago. Our generation of designers serves as a link between past and future,requiringa higher degree ofquality and ability from us.Then there is the cruel factorof market competition. So it is hard, especially when harsh reality intervenes.We are always confused, hesitant, struggling between dreams and reality, a little tired, but happy at the same time.
8，你们下一步的计划是什么？What’s your next goal?
Dayong: We are enjoying the process, everything is fresh each day. We don’t have a magnificent plan;we’re just trying our best to persevere and grow, striving for continual improvement.
企业文化 Home of Penda
For architects in a fast-changing era of Technology, Materials and Fabrication, learning and sharing plays a main role in our office. Working on a global scale gives each member of Penda valuable insight into different cultures, and the opportunity to develop a unique set of skills. To make these individual skills accessible to all team members, we organize workshops and get-togethers in our spare time. Architectural Workshops on Software, Presentation, Rapid Prototyping, Physical Model Building, Sustainability, and others such as Photography, Languages, Movies, Books, Art and History, offerbroad enrichmentpotential, with the positive benefit of moving out of one’s comfort zone.
This collaborative learning, teaching and sharing gives our team an increasingly evolving knowledge base, and serves as the foundation of our office culture.
Our headquarters are located in ahutongat the heart of China, next to Beijing’s Forbidden City. Renovating an old coal-factory resulted in an open, non-hierarchical floorplan for our office. A horizontal organizational structure provides an open platform for sharing information and knowledge among colleagues.
Plants, the use of rough materials, an honest structural and infrastructural appearance, and finally a team of passionate creative, are the main features of our office’s ecosystem.
To link to Hongkun Art Gallery please click
To link to Toby’s Home, Beijing, China please click
让你深呼吸—-鸿咖啡 / 槃达建筑
To link to Home Café please click
To link to The Snow Apartement please click
To link to Rising Canes Pavilion please click
To link to The Soundwave,Xiangyang, China please click
武汉园博会 “水之颂歌” WTRR Wuhan Expo