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.34 introduces Xiao Yao (contact: email@example.com) , associate project manager of Ground Inc
More: Ground Inc 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
▼视频 Video （全文深度采访见下方文字。视频为5分钟精华版，建议选择蓝光1080p观看。）
Zhejiang University + GSD
“The goal of studio is to teach how to discover and frame a design question, rather than how to design the best/ perfect.”
The bachelor study in Zhejiang University helped me build up a solid architecture background. It is a very hard-working environment and I really appreciate that the open platform at ZJU allows students to explore the new techniques and idea. It is more like a two-way dialog or seminar of new ideas, rather than a one-way lecture.
The experience at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) is more like an interesting adventure. You will not stand out because of a beautiful form or a well- considered program/layout, as almost everyone with the “Offer” is supposed to know how to do that. Instead of focusing on form and function, the school is more interested in how the design could respond to different issues such as scientific and technological innovation, social issues, and natural ecology and, in return, advance the design itself. Though there are still a lot of issues that are not resolved, it still received “distinction” from the final grades. From what I learn, the goal of studio is to teach how to discover and frame a design question, rather than how to design the best/ perfect project and assumes we will have more collaborators and resources to improve in real practice after graduation.
北京 – 杭州 – 柏林 – 慕尼黑 – 波士顿
Work and life in different cultural environments
Beijing – Hangzhou – Berlin – Munich – Boston
“Cultural divisions and language barriers are not insurmountable; just calm down and find the right place of yourself.”
我从小在北京长大，杭州读本科，再后来陆陆续续在慕尼黑，柏林，波士顿，洛杉矶等地学习工作。每一次转换都是一次清零然后重新出发的过程，一直觉得“less is more”不仅仅用于设计上，工作生活中亦是如此。
I grew up in Beijing, pursued my undergraduate degree in Hangzhou, and then successively studied and worked in Munich, Berlin, Boston, Los Angeles, among other places. Each move represents a process of restart. I always feel that “less is more” should not only be valued in design, but also in work and life.
It is worth mentioning that the experience of various cultures and living in different cities will have unnoticeable but profound effect on myself, just as Hemingway wrote to Hotchner, “if you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you.” The life experience in different cities also influenced my understanding in design. The sensitivity of Asian culture imbedded in the palaces in Beijing and the gardens in Hangzhou is the soft base of my deep heart; the study and work in Munich and Berlin broadened my horizon after seeing German pursue the extreme quality of material, craftsmanship, function and spatial form; the experience in Boston and Los Angeles added new social, economic, ecological dimensions to my design philosophy which tends to find a balance point between the aesthetic, social and functional aspects.
Working experience in Ground Inc. (2015~now)
“Make every penny of clients count.”
Moving from SWA Group to Ground Inc. is quite a change for me. As mentioned, there is a relatively matured working method and system in SWA; every step will be clearly instructed. In Ground, the project cycle is shorter, so we have to work in faster pace. It forces you to learn to swim by pushing you directly into the water. At the beginning, you may feel like you are drowning; but very quickly, you will learn the skill and then adapt to it.
The transition from designing by myself alone to leading a team to complete the design jobs is a big challenge for me. We often work on five or six projects together at the same time, which makes it impossible to do everything by myself. Coordination and teamwork become critically important. We often get together and brainstorm at the beginning; and then choose a few options with the best potentials to develop. Each designer in our team has his or her own specialties and unique insights. For me, discovering their brilliance and helping them improve and solve the problems in design schemes are crucial to advance our team’s designs and projects.
There is another more important procedure which is the effective communication with clients. In reality, much overtime and endless design revisions are actually caused by communication issues, among other reasons. Nevertheless, except for the uncontrollable aspects of the clients, the designers need to precisely understand the requirements of the clients and then adjust the designs accordingly as soon as possible, which will, in return, greatly improve communication efficiency. Because of the ever-changing market, we have been dedicated to improving the efficiency of our services, “Make every penny of clients count”.
Work for BSLA as the chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee (2019~now)
“Although working for BSLA as the chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee brings me some extra workload besides my own job, it provides me a great opportunity to learn and understand American society.”
波士顿景观协会是隶属于北美景观设计师协会（ASLA）的一个分支。得益于充足的景观专业教育资源，波士顿集中了很多的景观公司和新的景观从业者；所以我们的主要工作是搭建一个交流和沟通的平台。在这个平台里，青年设计师分部的主要目标是，帮助年轻设计师的发展，促进跨公司的“新老交流”和“新新交流”。新老交流：打破公司与公司之间的壁垒，让波士顿地区有名和优秀的资深景观设计师能定期的给新入行者（即使来自平时有可能甚至是竞争关系的公司介绍）不同优秀项目的完整经验和流程，提供有效而有意义的信息。比如今年9月我（们）邀请了MVVA的principal给大家在波士顿的儿童公园当场进行了详细介绍了建造、设计、资金等当中发生的种种故事。在新新交流中，我们利用周中和晚上的时间，给新的景观设计师们提供一个社交和互动的场所。行业内外的交流中，我们会提供一个定期的名为“Sketch in Boston Arboretum”的活动，带着大家边看边走边画，去吸引更多的民众，让之前可能对我们行业一无所知的他们了解景观设计师的工作。
Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA), founded in 1913, is the oldest and largest chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Due to the adjacency to the abundant landscape of educational resources, Boston gathers a number of landscape firms and new practitioners. The focus of our job is to create a platform for sharing and communication, within which the Emerging Professionals Committee aims to provide support to the young designers and promote cross-firm communications, not only among the young fellows but also between senior and emerging designers. We managed to build up the bridge across different firms and facilitate the dialog in between. At work, staff from different firms might be competitors; after work, however, we try to host a variety of events for them to become friends.
Although working for BSLA as the chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee brings me some extra workload besides my own job, it provides me a great opportunity to learn and understand American society. BSLA is a relatively even institution, within which the Emerging Professionals Committee acts as a new force. There are a number of opportunities for us on a regular basis to participate in the discussions and decision-making of various issues, to promote organizational reform, and to submit suggestions and proposals to state and federal governments. This is honestly very challenging but also a good learning process for me. This process of exploration and hard work, I think will greatly contribute to my career in all aspects.
Landscape design and projects
1. 唐顿女子戒毒治疗中心 | Taunton S.H, DCAMM Women Treatment Center
2. 唐缇广场 | Tontine Crescent Plaza
3. 联合广场 | Union Square
4. 潮园 | Surf’s up
The majority of the current projects from Ground, primarily are located within the city center. Our projects are not only plan-metric expansive projects but involve more vertical space and different urban levels. To a certain extent, this is a result of the land scarcity in the developed metropolises in Eastern America. Most central-located parcels have been highly developed and constructed, so there are very rare tabula rasa projects. Our projects exist at the different levels of heights, including the reconfiguration of the existing urban parks and plazas including Tontine Plaza, Winthrop Square and Central Park Exhibition, the Transit-Oriented-Development projects or metro and rail-transit station projects such as Union Square, the university regeneration and extension projects like Tufts University, MassArt, Mount Holyoke College and Wentworth Institute of Technology, as well as commercial residential projects containing the design of streetscape and roof gardens.
▼肖瑶在Ground Inc.参与的部分作品，selected projects in Ground Inc.
Taunton S.H, DCAMM Women Treatment Center
“Landscape design can empower a specific space or place and has the capacity to “cure” because a landscaped space closely relates to users’ feelings.”
This project has triple challenges with strict constraints, including a depressing environment, a limited budget, and multi-directional restrictions. The first site visit invoked in me a strong visual and spiritual shock. It is really difficult for to imagine the state of rigorous treatment of patients in that depressed physical space. Since this is a governmental project, the budget control was very strict. Multi-directional restrictions can be interpreted as both a prerequisite and a character of this project. First of all, there are high security restrictions, similar to prisons. The six-meter-high chain-link fence has to stay as it is without design elements. Secondly, the choice of materials is very limited. For example, all plants need to strictly exclude any possible correlation with drugs. No sharp objects are allowed in the site in order to prevent potential patients’ self-harm and personal injuries. Thirdly, the project schedule is very tight, it took 8 months from beginning to be completed.
▼唐顿女子戒毒治疗中心鸟瞰，aerial view of Taunton S.H, DCAMM Women Treatment Center
▼项目由建筑和铁网围合，the site is enclosed by buildings and wires
After understanding the users of the space and the multiple constraints, we asked ourselves what our design can do to help them through the difficult period of their lives. We eventually decided to concentrate on the movement characteristics of human bodies in open space: “active” and “static”. Two courtyards respond to the petal theme which is quite suitable for women; one for quiet and the other for activities. In the courtyard of Quiet, we design pocket-space to be used as a more private resting place and we leveraged the spatial function of planting, which, in various circumstances, provide patients a sense of being surrounded by greenery. Soft pavements in a pattern of flower are introduced into the courtyard of Activities, along with the space for Yoga and a vegetable garden. These limited, but very user-friendly functions, make patients feel that they are receiving a particularly good recovery environment after they move in. Many patients feel that the courtyards are very considerate and touching. We were told by the hospital that there was a new female patient who asked the administrator of the center, full of tears, “Is this space really provided for me?” When this feedback from the patients was conveyed to me, I perceive this project transcending the design itself. This is a project about humanity. The efforts we made in design enable patients to feel a sense of care and warmth, which, to me, is probably the greatest acknowledgement of the project.
▼静态的庭院和动态的庭院，courtyard for quiet and courtyard for activities
Taunton S.H, DCAMM Women Treatment Center won the Paul & Niki Tsongas Award by the state of Massachusetts in 2017 for the best preservation and space design for community and social services. To a certain extent, the project makes me believe that landscape design can empower a specific space or place and has the capacity to “cure” through designing a space that provides patients a sense of being valued, which can effectively ameliorate their mental states. This is because a landscaped space closely relates to users’ feelings. For example, a space surrounded by plantings is relatively warmer, and a wide-open space is very relaxing. For me, landscape design is a procedure where designers envisage and construct a specific space through the manipulation of different spatial elements, like plantings and pavements, to accommodate an expected feeling from the users of this space.
▼动态庭院活动，activities in the courtyard
Tontine Crescent Plaza
“Create an “urban exception”, bringing to the attention of the whole city to increase the space for pedestrian and civic activities.”
Temporary plazas have become a popular design approach in the United States. More and more clients are interested in the temporary landscape space. Its advantage lies in the capacity of gathering popularity and increase land value at a lower cost within a short period. Our main goals in the design of the project were: first, how to control the budget; second, how to get a good outcome that will be of interest to citizens. In this project of Tontine Crescent Tactical Plaza, we looked into the history of the space in search of a way to represent the historic memory of the place, and discovered the site has experienced three transformation stages in past 300 years, from natural land to urban green island, and then to asphalt paved public space. We used a very simple method of painting on the existing paving with abundant green colors to reveal the historical state of the place as the green axis now covered by a parking lot and avenues. This creates an “urban exception” that helps to form an oasis for people to shortly escape from the bustle of the city. This design also brings to the attention of the whole city of Boston to reduce the use of motor vehicles and increase the space for pedestrian and civic activities.
▼唐缇广场历史图片，historical drawing of Tontine Plaza
▼唐缇广场鸟瞰，aerial view of Tontine Crescent Plaza
▼广场在市中心为居民提供休息场所，the plaza provides resting place for the residence in the city center
“The design we want to provide is not only a product that looks good, but a solution to a complex issue.”
The Green Line Extension is a project that Boston residents have been waiting for nearly 30 years, and Union Square is one of its hub stations. In addition, Union Square Plaza is adjacent to the train station, which itself has certain technical challenges and coordination challenges such as coordinating the easements, setbacks and extensions of greenline buildings and the connections to the municipal roads with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). However, the greater challenge comes from the opposition from the neighbors living next to the site, which in some degree surpass the project’s complexity challenges from the technical and communication aspects. To be honest, such community difficulty is expected but somewhat out of the original expectation. In fact, some of unprofessional questions from the neighbors are quite subjective, and personal, while other questions are quite valuable because they raise the issues that are not typically considered from design perspective. Hence, we will listen patiently and carefully to every different voice and take these views as a way to improve the design in a more practical way.
▼联合广场整体效果图，external rendering of Union Plaza
It is understood that air pollution from traffic is a main concern for neighbors. So, we lower the elevation of the plaza to about five meters below the adjacent roads and provide a thick planted buffer to mitigate the pollution. Considering the site was historically related with river, we use the “River and Eddy” as the design theme hoping to bring the memory of the river back to the site. The “River” spatially conveys the pedestrian flow, connecting the T station and Union Square. The “Eddy” a series of pocket spaces along the “River,” provides a quiet relaxing space. Behind are lush plantings which effectively block pollutants and make a comfortable space to stay.
The design we want to provide is not only a product that looks good, but a solution to a complex issue. After a marathon of communications- revision- communications, we finally received the approval from the city with improved support from the neighborhood and established a good and close relationship with all parties involved, including those who used to be against us.
▼广场下沉，通过树木与道路隔离，the plaza is five meters below the street and being separated by trees
The Surf’s up is an urban park we designed for the Hangzhou Binjiang Internet of Things Industry Park. In both Chinese and English language, “Surf” has different interpretations, and such multiple attributes are exactly what we want to bring into the project. The site is adjacent to Qiantang River. “Qiangtang Tide” is historically and culturally critical to Binjiang and Hangzhou. Surrounded by IOT park, it is inevitably related to “Surfing the internet.” Moreover, the Redbull Qiantang River Competition make the sport of “River Surfing” international attractive. With so many interesting characteristics of the site, we would like to bring those into our design. In Phase I “ecological tide,” wetland parks and ecological pools are introduced. Phase II “technology tide” is filled with a variety of cool technologies like Augmented reality, virtual reality and APP reserved outdoor amenities. Phase III “Joy Plaza” will be the energy core of thepark with a giant LED screen and artificial surfing pool.
▼潮园整体效果图，overall rendering of Surf’s up
When we look at design itself, I think that Chinese market gives a bigger stage to designers, and is more willing to compromise some functional, social and economic demands for a high-quality design. This gives designers a relatively open environment to achieve their aspirations. There are plenty of opportunities for young designers to grow rapidly in the context of “Chinese Speed.” Such opportunities are admired by designers all over the world.
▼潮园效果图，中国项目尺度更大，设计更为大胆，rendering of Surf’s up, the design scale is larger and the strategy is bolder in China.
▼肖瑶在GSD期间的课题作业，assignment in GSD by Xiao Yao
△在“洛杉矶新（景观）基础设施”/ “重塑肌理-洛杉矶河城市更新”的这个课题中，我发现现代农业可以通过自动化控制在同一片土地不同分区域播种不同的作物， 已达到抗虫，抗旱，提高养分的诸多作用。于是猜想是否可以把这个技术运用于宗地治理，河水进化。将河水引入场地，根据河水污染程度大致分为几个不同的区间，种植不同的作物，有针对性性的净化河水。在这个大框架下，构建成的都市农业试验田，可以作为一种新型的城市公园，引领城市更新。
In the studio of “A New [Landscape] Infrastructure for Los Angeles” for example, I found “digital printing” as an innovative approach to frame my urban agriculture design. “Digital Printing” makes it possible sow different crops in different subregions of the same land through automatic machine controls, in order to improve insect resistance, drought resistance, and nutrient enhancement. I wondered if this technology could be applied to brown field remediation and water treatment. When water from the Los Angeles River is introduced into the site, it is divided into several different sections according to the degree of river water pollution. Thus, different crops are planted intentionally to remediate the river water in steps. Within this larger framework, an agriculture experimental field will be constructed as a new type of urban park, leading to a new pattern of the urban regeneration.
▼肖瑶在SWA洛杉矶工作室（2014~2015）的项目 – 塞尔维亚贝尔格莱德水岸改造
Xiao Yao’s Project in SWA Los Angeles studio (2014~2015) – renovation of the Belgrade waterfronts in Serbia
In the project of renovation of the Belgrade waterfronts in Serbia, we dealt with a classical old eastern European city center, which has a long and rich history but desperate for rejuvenation. We hope to reshape the citizens’ confidence in the city through the reconstruction of the waterfront, so as to promote the regeneration of the entire city. Graffiti is a relatively non-mainstream but still widespread art form in Eastern Europe. In this project, I regard graffiti as a witty manner of design. However, it is necessary to control the balance-point. Landscape design is not simply about creating pieces of fine art. Designers need to carefully consider the market acceptance. I always consider different aspects so that to make it fit into the project appropriately.
▼肖瑶在Ground Inc.的项目 – Mt Hollyoke学院
Projects in Ground Inc. by Xiao Yao – Mt Hollyoke College
▼肖瑶在Ground Inc.的项目 – Wentworth大学研究中心
Projects in Ground Inc. by Xiao Yao – Wentworth University Research Center