gooood team interviews creative individuals under 35 years old from all over the world, some are pioneering founders, some are clients, some are ordinary practitioners. gooood is trying to record the authentic living and working states of this era. Your recommendations and suggestions are appreciated!
gooood Under 35 NO.36 introduces Zheng Tao and Fernie Lai, co-founder of WAY Studio. More: WAY Studio on gooood
出品人：向玲 / Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：陈诺嘉，武晨曦，刘丹阳，李诗蓉，徐馨羽，韦紫昭，历剑 / Editor: Chen Nuojia, Wu Chenxi, Liu Danyang, Li Shirong, Xu Xinyu, Wei Zizhao, Li Jian
未·建筑设计研究所是一个创新精神的建筑事务所，致力于建筑设计与艺术和科技领域的融合。WAY Studio 未.以艺术体验为出发点，并通过跨界合作探索新的可能性。
“WAY Studio is an innovative architecture and design studio with a focus on coalescing architecture with art and technology. With consideration for artistic representation at its core, WAY Studio has focused on discovering new possibilities through cross-disciplinary collaborations. Seeking new possibilities in every situation. We are interested in looking towards what is next, to find the balance between people and nature, culture and technology.”
▼视频 Video （全文深度采访见下方文字。视频为4分钟精华版，建议选择蓝光1080p观看。Youtube链接：https://youtu.be/0OnHqM2k-08）
About WAY Studio
“The establishment of our own studio is because we essentially want to form a team of our own, create work as we want, to stay true to our original intentions as designers. We wanted the opportunity to explore our own ideas.”
黎紫翎（黎）：我与郑涛2008年于MAD（更多请至：MAD on gooood）认识，后续2012年在UNStudio（更多请至：UNStudio on gooood）又认识了Alan。在那之后我们虽然分道扬镳走了不同的道路但是一直保持联系。我们第一个独立合作并完成的项目是赫尔辛基古根海姆博物馆竞赛，当时我在滑铁卢，郑涛在北京，Alan在LA，是在三个时区完成的这个项目。是通过这个项目的合作我们固化了我们的兼容性及一致的理念。我们聊到最多的话题总是与未来相关，并在各种关于此的遐想中找到一个平衡点，过去现在与未来，传统、文化与科技的发展，也讨论精神与艺术层面的东西。我们的作品一直都是体现着关于这方面的思考与挣扎，试验，以及成长。
Fernie Lai （FL）: Tao and I met at MAD (more: MAD on gooood) in 2008, and then Alan, our third partner, while we were all at UNStudio (more: UNStudio on gooood), that was in 2012. We had continued our separate ways after, but we kept in touch. The first project we worked on together was the Guggenheim Helsinki Competition, I was back in Waterloo at the time, Tao was in Beijing, and Alan was in LA, three separate time zones. It was through this project that we really solidified our compatibility and our direction. Our biggest shared interest was the exploration of the future, torn between the past and present, traditions, cultures and technology, and spirit, and art. Our work continues to be a struggle between the balance of all these.
Shortly after that we started looking for an office space. To be honest, none of us were ready to take that leap. Tao was the one to take the first step, alone, and I joined him much later. But that is the nature of our team, conflicted, and it is exactly this conflict that sparks our creation. We never intended that we would always work in harmony, it is these differences in opinion that gives depth and dimension to our work.
▼WAY Studio成立初期办公室，office of WAY Studio at the beginning of establishment ©未/WAY Studio
Zheng Tao (ZT): We are now a team of five or six. Our strengths vary, but our division in terms of responsibilities are fluid. Our imagination will take flight together, and one of us will wake up bringing us back down to earth.
Zheng Tao and Fernie Lai working together (left: Zheng Tao, right: Fernie Lai) ©未/WAY Studio
“Design tools of renown firms are not always applicable to young studios. We admit to their influences and find our own way.”
ZT: I joined MAD when they were still a young firm. At that time, the atmosphere was particularly nurturing, the team was much smaller at the time, vibrant, and one could accumulate a variety of experiences. I later joined UNStudio, which at the time was already a well established international firm with well established systems of organization and design processes. Actually I also worked at a myriad of firms, big and small, from commercial enterprises to design based studios. It was after experiencing a large spectrum of working styles that I felt lost, I spent a lot of time thinking about “what’s next” at the time, and these ideas led to building my own team in order to execute them.
Both MAD and UNStudio are world renown firms with their own unique strengths and characteristics. There is inevitably a large influence, especially on design methodology, style, design philosophy, etc., yet these tools are not always applicable or translatable to our own situation. In terms of design style, we admit to these influences, and from there we grow, learn, evolve and begin to find our own “way”. As mature firms, they both have well established design philosophies, this is something that is essential to the longevity of a studio and it is something that we are working hard to accumulate. Currently, we like to face every project with a clean slate and fresh attitude, to explore “what else” without being bogged down by a well established “image”. But we let not the fact that we’ve had these experiences hinder us, rather, we’d like to embrace it, on top of the fact that we will most certainly stumble in our way. The world is in constant motion, everything is moving faster than ever, and we would like to grow and evolve alongside it.
“The world is in constant motion, everything is moving faster than ever, and we would like to grow and evolve alongside it.”
黎：我们在那些公司里经历了个人的成长，它们在我们的事业中都是非常重要的导师。但我们在聚在一起之前，三人都有着截然不同的人生经历。我小时候在加拿大，香港，台湾，北京都生活过，之后加拿大就读的建筑专业, 而事后又分别在香港、美国、英国、荷兰、北京都工作或实习过，毕业之后我还曾经跟一位荷兰的艺术家合作了一些雕塑项目。这些经验的累积与目前的设计实践相辅相成。UNStudio的设计的规律性，对于狂野的形态之下的自律与规律性。 MAD在探索的建筑是很东方的，为亚洲建筑师提升了更多话语权。他能够以东方审美观重新定义当代建筑，并探索它的可能性。这些都是我们一直感兴趣的，并希望能传承下来。
FL: It is where we experienced a lot of personal growth, they are our mentors through key stages of our career. But these were not our only experiences before deciding to start our own office, we have, between the three of us, we’ve had a myriad of experiences. I grew up in Canada, in Hong Kong, in Taiwan, in Beijing; studied architecture in Canada, and subsequently went on to intern or work in Hong Kong, Boston, London, Amsterdam, and Beijing. I even collaborated with an artist from Holland on several sculptural projects when I first graduated. We are the accumulation of our experiences, and our team, the accumulation of that accumulation. Our experiences make us who we are. UNStudio is a much more systematic firm, solution comes in systems and a lot of rational thinking, on top of a strong balance between management and services; MAD’s pursuit of an oriental architecture stemming from Chinese philosophy is something that has opened the world’s eyes. He plays a key role in redefining what modern architecture should mean in China and thus the world. These are all things that create immense value and we hope to carry forward.
“If we do not have the courage to take the first step, we will never know what will happen. Doubt is also a crucial part of growth.”
FL: Nothing is easy, nothing is impossible. Our jobs as architects are to find solutions for problems that we face, creatively. To be honest, for a newly established small studio, it is never not difficult. But as designers, we are constantly growing and improving. Push forward, and you don’t forget why you’re doing this, that you’re trying to make a stand in the world and to find your voice in our era of architects.
ZT: We exhausted everything renting such an office space. It’s hard not to doubt yourself when faced with empty tables in the beginning; but if we do not have the courage to take the first step, we will never know what will happen. Doubt is also a crucial part of growth.
▼Way Studio现在的办公环境和工作场景，working scene of WAY Studio ©未/WAY Studio
“The best is yet to come!”
FL: “The best is yet to come!” that is a famous saying, but I think it is applicable to design. Future projects, and projects that are not yet realized are what offers the most possibilities and thus becomes the most attractive to us. We are still in the stage where we are fighting for every opportunity to show the world what we are capable of.
ZT: Only projects not yet actualized are the best representation of the designer’s abilities. For example, the Guggenheim Helsinki competition, we knew we wouldn’t win, but we were able to condense and express our aspirations through this project. Through other projects after, we continue to pursue the ideas that were formed within this project, when eventually a project such as this can be built, then it will be an accumulation of and the evolution of all the ideas before it. That is the ultimate goal, it is also why competitions best reflect the real pursuit of a design studio.
▼部分WAY Stuido项目图片，part of WAY Studio’s projects ©未/WAY Studio
Design concept and inspiration
“Our core competitiveness is in our design philosophy and where our imagination can take us. What comes to our mind, and to put all our effort into attaining these ideas.
ZT: In our minds we have not yet produced something that is too far fetched, they are all based on our current advancements in technology, albeit it may not be readily available tools and materials in the field at the moment, but we believe it is not impossible to achieve! There is definitely difference between what is reasonably achievable within a project that is to be built right now, with readily available tools and materials, and a project that can be built with our current advancement in technology. But we believe that if what we have been doing can stand up to those challenges, then consequently, the clients who approach us will also be interested in exploring these possibilities, so we should not shy away from difficulties. We are continuously reflecting on what we are doing, on our own speciality, for what sets us apart. Many years from now, we’ll line up our work, and search for that commonality between.
FL: Small studios must have their own unique characteristics. The core competitiveness of a large-scale company lies in their service capabilities. Our core competitiveness is in our design philosophy and where our imagination can take us. What comes to our mind, and to put all our effort into attaining these ideas. We don’t want to define and set the parameters of the studio prematurely. We’re enjoying the state of having all kinds of possibilities right now. Once we label ourselves definitively, it reduces our opportunities to explore what we may not be familiar with. From our years of experience, we have found that a client who reaches out to us and brings the project to completion must have the same ideals and goals. When working with a client that already recognizes our abilities increases the efficiency in communication, in such cases, you are working together as a team rather than client and designer, and there are less hiccups in the realization of the project.
▼天马行空的设计方案，design proposals that may not be available at the moment ©未/WAY Studio
“We hope that our architecture will allow people to enter a quixotic environment, rather than simply passing from one location to another.”
FL: Early on, we would often look towards other design projects, architectural or spatial, from other designers and architects. But more and more, we find our selves dwelling on other resources, science, nature, technology, art, philosophy, etc. In the beginning we looked out of interest, but the more we are exposed to these elements, the more they are embedded in our subconscious and thus becomes our inspiration. It is important to keep exposing yourself to new elements, and to constantly mull over its possibilities within design, to find opportunities to transform these ideas into elements or tools, to make this routine a habit if you will.
ZT: Inspiration is what arises unexpectedly after an in-depth understanding of the project, a long period of mulling it over, and a connection to past experiences; it is what everyone thinks is worth developing after much deliberation and discussion. Most of the cities we live in are made up of artificial environments. People go from one building to another every day. This kind of experience may take up more than half of a person’s life. Since this is the case, we hope that our architecture will allow people to enter a quixotic environment, rather than simply passing from one location to another. When someone experiences a space through the filter of their own life experience, it elicits an interesting resonance. In this time and age, individualistic expression is emphasized. Thus we explore how both the inside and outside of places are able to shape and resonate with the personal experience, thereby manipulating and expressing one’s emotions.
▼部分WAY Studio的概念设计方案，希望创造有趣的体验，part of WAY Studio’s conceptual designs, creating interesting resonance ©未/WAY Studio
“The more disciplines you come into contact with, the more knowledge you gain, and the richer your ideas become.”
ZT: The truth is there was very little business at the beginning, so we could only involve ourselves in a lot of cross-disciplinary projects, and that’s the reality of a startup studio. Through these collaborations, we can gain a variety of experiences — for example, through fashion design, we can understand how fabrics are made and then stitched into clothing — and these processes can be translated into the use of cladding designs. The more disciplines you come into contact with, the more knowledge you gain, and the richer your ideas become. I think this path we took plays into our original intention of creating a research studio, so we treat these projects as cross-disciplinary research, and no matter whether the design is small or large we’re happy to get involved.
FL: This is also why we speak of “cross disciplinary” work so much and its importance, we learn more about our selves through the collaboration with others.
▼跨界合作 – 布料材料测试
Cross-disciplinary project – cloth material experiment ©未/WAY Studio
“ It is important for us to ground ourselves in our design, and to remember who we are ultimately designing for, to focus not only on architecture, because ultimately we’re building for everyone.”
FL: In the early days, we hosted a series of “salon“, a platform for cross disciplinary sharing and discussion. When I was still in university, I was involved in two student initiated platforms, f_rmLAB and On Empathy. Within f_rmLAB we focused our energy in exploring the different ways technology can be integrated through different stages of design. I think that the advancement of technology has a great impact on our approach to architecture today, but it also brings with it emotional obstacles. What is the relationship between technology and humans? What becomes the architect’s role with these vast changes? And so as an extension to these “conversations” on how to balance our struggles, myfellow classmates Connor O’Grady, Amrit Phull, Currim Sutera and I established a platform called On Empathy in order to discuss such or other related issues, In the beginning, we only thought to involve students and professors, but through looking for a venue sponsor overtime we became more and more involved with the local community, and they too took an interest in our discussion, the interesting thing is the perspectives they brought to the table induced a much more dynamic chemistry than if we had kept that conversation between ourselves. So when I graduated and returned to Beijing after, I continued this endeavor and started a mini series in Beijing as an extension of those previous conversations, to keep our selves grounded through conversations with “others”, designers easily fall into an egotistical ideal, architects especially, so it is important for us to ground ourselves in our design, and to remember who we are ultimately designing for, to focus not only on architecture, because ultimately we’re building for everyone. We have to be continuously expanding our expertises and understanding of the world.
▼OnEmpathy宣言和沙龙活动，On empathy manifesto and salon ©OnEmpathy
▼在WAY Studio举办的沙龙活动，salons held in WAY Studio office ©OnEmpathy
“The influence of information on architectural design is imperceptible, and as such, should ultimately be people-oriented, and from this basis, create something that belongs to you.”
Guggenheim Museum Design Competition
黎：古根海姆项目是一个早期的实验，想在实体空间的体验上做科技方面的延伸。竞赛有一个大的主题是Illusion，由于我们与一些新媒体艺术家有过合作，因此除了在物理上做了一面巨大的镜子来重新衔接场地，立面上我们也做了设计，让它可以与个人手机终端产生联系，读取不同的资料，展现出不同的样式。人们去博物馆，可以看作品和介绍文字，或者通过互联网收集更多背景资料。有些博物馆会使用音声导览，里面甚至会插入一些小故事，这种体验是我们做设计的出发点。我很喜欢的一位艺术家叫Janet Cardiff，专注于创作跟人的体验有关的作品。她在video walk这个系列作品当中其中拍摄了德国的一个火车站，植入了一些历史真实的场景，也有一些幻想的东西，带给人不同的体验，但又要求观看者在火车站现场观看这个视频，这样就会形成一个时空交错的一个体验，也是我们想要表达的对于illusion的解析。最终古根海姆这个项目虽然没有实现，但其中的想法会被带到下一个项目中，或得到机会落成，或转化成新的想法。
FL: The Guggenheim submission was an early experimental project of ours where we wanted to extend technological possibilities into the physical space. One of the major themes of the competition was ‘Illusion’. In addition to physically erecting a huge mirror to reconnect the water and the park with a physical and literal illusion, we were inspired by our earlier collaboration with new media artists, and designed the façade to integrate AR technology allowing an extended personalized experience. Sensors in the facade connects to the visitors’ cellphone, interprets its data, and presents different information accordingly. Visitors will see exhibition or event information, collector will see affiliated works, curators will see collection of artists, etc. Audio guide are common in galleries and museums, but that experience can become much more interesting when history, stories, personal opinions are woven through a tour much like the work of artist, Janet Cardiff, her work focuses on human experience through different aspects of our senses, sounds, visuals, etc. In one of her series of video walk works “Alter Bahnhof”, she takes us on a curated journey through an old railway station in Germany, implanting facts along with fiction, it becomes an immersive performance rather than simply a tour. In the end, although the Guggenheim project was not realized, the ideas in it continues to traverse into other projects, transforming into new ideas, and more importantly, evolving along with the times.
The integration of technology should be balanced with consideration for the viewer. Our ultimate goal is to create a scene or an experience that can bring the distance between an architectural building and a human experience closer, using time, space, technology, and art in combination with one’s own memories to create a new personalized fantastical experience. Although physical time travel has yet to become a technical invention, the process of recalling the past, being in the present, and imagining the future is a sort of space-time travel in your mind. We combine fantasy elements in the architectural space, hoping to invoke a different spatial experience for our visitors.
▼古根海姆美术馆外观，Guggenheim Museum ©未/WAY Studio
▼建筑底部设置巨大镜面衔接场地，erect a huge mirror to reconnect the water and the park ©未/WAY Studio
ZT: We don’t want to overemphasize the role of technology in architectural design, but rather design in reflection to human needs. AI may be able to detect general likes and dislikes, but it is not yet capable of reading moods, or that the greater environment may have adverse affect on choices; It provides a person with a selection of preconceived choices, which begins to create set boundaries, a biases bubble that distances oneself from external information. In this sense we are cautious about the use of technology; Our intention is to ultimately use technology in a way that brings people closer to the human experience, rather than replacing it entirely.
The thing that stands out for this project is that visitors can use VR or AR technology to log in through a variety of channels and access different information, thus creating a third possibility for the façade, besides being an aesthetic representation and a weather barrier. The act of creation is part of a person’s memory, while the architecture serves a functional and aesthetic need. In doing so, we have expanded the significance of information transmission for architecture. We hope that architecture can become more attuned to human emotions and memories in addition to their functionality. The influence of information on architectural design is imperceptible, and as such, should ultimately be people-oriented, and from this basis, create something that belongs to you. This is where our interest lies and what motivates us.
▼通过手机从建筑立面读取信息，get information from the facade through mobile device ©未/WAY Studio
Projects and exploration
“Form is a vessel, but there is no denying that we are visual animals and that the cover of the book more or less has an effect on us, no matter what the content holds.”
ZT: In architectural design, we hope to directly convey emotions to people just from physicality and form itself. There were many restrictions when designing the MS-II restaurant as it was a renovation project, we had to maintain the usage of red brick in the front façade and no windows/openings were allowed to keep as much as possible to the original structure, this created a level of difficulty as we also did not want to simply build a wall, and the restaurant most definitely needed a recognizable facade in order to bring in customers. In fact, the facade, the process of entering is an important prelude, the conversation that the facade provides our visitors sets the tone for the entire journey. In order to achieve this design, we originally wanted to use a robotic arm, but after consulting with technical experts in the field, 1:1 paper plots of brick layouts were usedinstead, 20 meters of mylar, between each layer of brick, a layer of paper was laid down, and the entire wall was constructed literally “as drawn”. Before the facade was cleaned up after construction, you could see all the paper still sticking out of the facade, it was a spectacular view.
FL: One of the reasons why we were selected as the designers of this project is due to our strength in integrating artistic representation in the design. We proposed the concept of “Dreams” early in our communications. This concept infiltrates the entire dinning experience, of which the façade is particularly important. It is the threshold into the dreamscape that customers pass through from reality. To this end, we spend a lot of time exploring a suitable design despite all the restrictions of a renovation project and in the end came up with this dynamic design to express the fluidity of dreams.
▼餐厅外立面，external view of the restaurant ©曾皓，黎紫翎
▼外立面细部及施工过程，facade details and construction view ©曾皓，黎紫翎
FL: Everyone’s dream is unique, with infinite possibilities, and we wanted very much to include this feeling of unstable fluidity within our design. We wanted to create the illusion of past without representing it literally, so instead, like in a dream, we selected a typical signature element of the past, arches, and went through a process of abstraction. On the second floor, we selected velvet as our main material. Functionally, this is for acoustics purposes, reducing noise which would improve the dining experience, on the other hand, velvet lends an air of mystery that fits our definition of the second floor’s atmosphere. While designing this project, we studied a lot of performance and dramatic works, including stage performances, movies, arts and installations, even integrated storytelling, these references, alongside our own experiences with theatre design, both provided a lot of inspiration for materials and the formal design of this project.
ZT: The whole space is an evocation of drama. After entering, you feel as if you’re in a production, and affected by the environment, everyone is playing a different role. For example, the washroom is generally a private space, but we flipped that on its side and made it a space of performance. The tissue box becomes a microphone; and the user will be involuntarily drawn to perform.
▼项目概念，不同的梦境，project concept of different dreams ©未/WAY Studio
▼餐厅一层空间，充满戏剧感，first floor space of the restaurant with an evocation of drama ©曾皓，黎紫翎
▼二层包间，使用天鹅绒材料，private room on the second floor with velvet ©曾皓，黎紫翎
▼变化而富有戏剧性的场景，dramatic views in the private rooms ©曾皓，黎紫翎
▼带有神秘感的空间细部，space details creating a mysterious atmosphere ©曾皓，黎紫翎
project using LEGO
FL: We participate in multiple competitions every year. In competitions, we are able to experiment, it is our design research. The architectural LEGO set we used was a gift from a previous client, originally designed as developmental toys for children, they have recently experimented with the extension of its uses as well. When we were designing with LEGO, we used it much like we used other 3D tools, we had an idea or direction first, and LEGO became a tool for us to test those ideas while mimicking certain real-life restrictions, predesigned set modules and its method of construction reflected its achievability and a fair representation of architecture scale. The result did not deviate from our original intention too much, but allowed us to visit and expose certain problems. In the end, we found using LEGO to do models is a bit like drawing an analytical diagram, or a quick massing model. It had that added dimension apart from 2D diagrams, but very quick to assemble compared to other means of physical or digital model. It does not directly translate into design but plays a very useful role in brainstorming and in the design thought process.
▼用乐高做形体分析，use LEGO to do volume analysis ©未/WAY Studio
Silk Road Cultural Exchange Center
FL: Currently in China, we face change more than architects elsewhere in the world. The West Hall of Silk Road Cultural Exchange Center is a renovation project for a project which was still in its original construction stage. The Silk Road Cultural Exchange Center was originally a mixed-use cultural complex, including Grand Theatre, Concert Hall, and Chinese Theatre. The biggest problem with the original site of the West Hall was the poor circulation of the space. The West Hall is intended to be an art museum, with exhibitions on both sides, but was lacking connections between the two sides.
▼文化交流中心，overall view of the cultural exchange center ©张辉， 黎紫翎
▼创造看与被看的体验，experience of seeing and being seen ©张辉， 黎紫翎
FL: When designing this project, we were greatly influenced by the experience of theatre performances itself, to see or be seen. We believe performances should not be limited to the stage, many performances today explore disrupting this inherent relationship, and we extended that idea even farther into the public space. In addition, we also incorporated our previous experience in commercial mall design. In order to bring customers to every niche of the mall, mall design places explicit attention to the experience of its customers, including accessibility and the experience itself. We revamped the entire circulation, reconnecting the two sides with the addition of balconies and bridges that were expressed formally in the atrium. The original space contained a spectacular open skylight, but art museums call for intricate control over all light, natural or artificial, therefore we designed louvres under the skylight that would allow the museum to control infiltrating light according to outdoor conditions as well as its current exhibits. Natural light brings comfort to its occupants and allow people to stay in the space longer so we insisted on retaining this natural light source, in addition, we integrated atriums in our bridge additions that would allow the light to penetrate deeper into the space.
▼流线和采光分析，streamline and lighting analysis ©未/WAY Studio
▼柔和的室内光线，玻璃绿墙帮助光线进到更深的地方，sunlight defused by the skylight, glass walls with plants lead the light into deeper space ©张辉， 黎紫翎
FL: In this project, we considered the full spectrum of scales, from the overall form, to lighting, to the texture of the wall materials, all of these are design like sculpting the space. We even designed the door handles of the main exhibition halls as we found this is the first thing one touches when entering a space, somewhat like a first impression. Through design, we extended the experience of art and sculpture into the design of this door handle, and instilled it through the sense of touch. The central atrium allows for visitors to breath, to contemplate between exhibitions as they move from the enclosed space that hosts exhibitions to the next. This moment of pause is also an important part of their experience.
ZT: There is a new material that we experimented within this project, Okijima panels, its weight is one sixth of GRG, which is what is commonly used for three dimensional forms in interior spaces, with its reduction in weight, we were able to achieve larger overhangs than normal, it also reduced the stress on the original structure. A layer of striations were added to the surface of the panels in order to cover up defects due to the time stress of production. The initial state of the space was very poor, even basic functional needs such as circulation were not thought through properly, there were lots of room for improvement, schematic stage lasted two years, with the design was constantly changing before we arrived at the current scheme.
The most important thing for us was to solve the initial problems with circulation, and creating a central focal point within the atrium. Our intention is for the museum itself to disappear within the entire experience, that the visitors focus on the art itself while the space becomes a backdrop for the deeper consciousness. In our adjustment to the circulation, we not only reconnected the entire space, but we added moments of pause to the entire journey, views towards the atrium like previously mentioned, towards the exterior space.
▼材料细部，material details ©张辉， 黎紫翎
Current developments and future prospects
FL: Other on-going projects are mostly confidential, for those, we will have to wait till they are completed to publish them. We try to participate in an ideas competition every year, to push our selves to think, to think beyond the present. The year before, we proposed a mobile-station for future living “2118” as part of the mini competition, and last year, we proposed another mobile project, the Lib-Ark project, located in New York Central Park. Inspired by the park location, we proposed a reversal of the normal library experience of visitors traveling to the library, and instead, had the library approach its visitors.
▼纽约图书馆，Lib-Ark project in New York ©未/WAY Studio
ZT: Central Park is a particularly flat landscape, so we wanted to create a high point overlooking the entire park. From this, we imagined the reading room as a slow-moving pod, kind of like a flat ferris wheel or a super slow moving roller coaster. The reader stays in one reading pod that continuously traverses the landscape. While absorbing knowledge through text and paper, you can also become absorbed in the real life beauty of the park, a fulfilling day. The ferris wheel is part of many people’s childhood memories and we hope this library we designed may also become one more memory to treasure. Reading is an activity where the body is still while the mind is in motion. In this library, when you are reading, your body will also move with the mind.
▼在平整的公园中设置 一个可以俯瞰的图书馆，design the library on a higher land overlooking the flat park landscape ©未/WAY Studio
FL: Along with the library in motion, we also incorporated technology in the sense that books of the library are stored in a central storage space beneath the “mountain” and you can access reading material via an app on your personal device and the books will arrive along with your pod. In this setup, the biggest controversy during our design was: how much of the library experience can be taken over by AI, which is something that is already happening in our daily lives; can AI really read people’s preferences? Is something recommended by others really what we want? The team was divided, on one hand some believed that the paper book will not survive and an algorithm will learn all reader’s preferences; on the other hand, some believed that the experience of one encountering a book randomly as it is all laid placed in a physical space, that that randomness of that experience is irreplaceable. Therefore, for this project, we designed two reading lines. There is a large book storage room buried under the mountain, and the designated books will be sent directly to the reading room by appointment. In addition, there will also be physical books offered in the reading room, as well as books that people have left behind, retaining the chance of encountering physical books in traditional libraries. Today’s technology means information is always readily available at our fingertips, but through this library, we hope to reignite the experience of reading and pondering and let people slowly pass the time in the “Lib-Ark”.
▼从图书馆内俯瞰公园，overlook the park from in the library ©未/WAY Studio
ZT: We currently have a children centre in construction in Beijing. In this project, we were able to traverse traditional usage of spaces. It is also a renovation project, so we also placed an immense amount of effort in transforming certain inherent problems within the site into something that would work in our favor. This project will be opening soon, and we look forward to sharing it with everyone. We also participated in the Shenzhen Opera house competition with our entry of “Rising Moon”, and was invited to participate in a vision competition for the sunken courtyard space of EuroPlaza. In addition, “real” projects that we are working on currently includes a bridge, still in its concept design stage, a courtyard renovation in the west sea area, and many others, please stay tuned!
▼WAY Studio其他设计项目，other design projects by WAY Studio ©未/WAY Studio
“ Design is a constant never-ending pursuit. Since we’ve become independent, we must dare to dream; what you once held to be right must be realized as much as possible.”
The blueprint of the studio’s future development
FL: Projects that are to be actualized are subject to various restrictions, including time, money, client’s needs, etc. For us, competitions are more about the imagination of the future. If we encounter similar projects later on, it will have been because we have already began to think about it. This is a meaningful exercise for us and the team, to keep our minds open wide and thinking.
In addition, We have also begin to pursue experimentation with products as we have found continuously in our own design that key objects can make or break the atmosphere of a space, it also gives us an opportunity to test design ideas, materials, etc, prematurely at a much smaller scale. Since then we have started to develop some of our own products, including furniture, daily necessities, etc., which can be used in conjunction with spaces that we design, or purchased individually. Alan, our third partner has been working with craftsman, producing prototypes of our own line of furniture and objects. They were on display at the Vancouver Interior Design Fair last year and can be found on our website.
ZT: Adhering to good design is the most pivotal work of the studio. Design is a constant never-ending pursuit. Since we’ve become independent, we must dare to dream; what you once held to be right must be realized as much as possible. The studio’s original intention and future endeavourswill always insist on projects that resonate with one’s emotions and memories, walking the line between fantasy and reality. We use competitions to witness and explore how far our wildest ideas can go. In conceptual competitions, we can put our imagination on over drive and create designs that one may not dare to imagine in actual projects. In order to further extend and express the spatial experience, we will also actively make supporting artworks or objects as part of our projects.
▼项目配套的门把手设计，door knob design for projects ©未/WAY Studio
In light of the affect of the virus in Beijing, everyone’s lives were affected somewhat. Fortunately, our team remained safe and adapted to this new situation quickly, and there was little influence to our actual work, but at the same time, we needed to make certain adjustments to the boundaries between home and work. Last year, we were working on a renovation project that we both designed and built. Originally it was intended as a temporary weekend getaway with family and friends in the outskirts of Beijing. One of the main reasons was that we were in desperate need of a better suited environment for home office, but more importantly, it allowed our family the muchneeded space and a chance to spend more time with nature under the circumstances of social distancing. This period of time induced a lot of reflection with regards to the way we work and our method of consumption.
Zheng Tao and Fernie Lai ©高原