|2004 Spring - Architects Intro - Toshiko Mori - H-Sang Seung - Kengo Kuma - Yung Ho Chang
Yung Ho Chang
Text by Azby Brown
||This Beijing-born architect received degrees in environmental design and architecture from U.S. colleges including the University of California, Berkeley. Returning to China in 1993, he established China's first private architectural firm, Atelier FCJZ. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2000 UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of the Arts. In 2002 and 2003, he held the Kenzo Tange Chair at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.
FCJZ projects range from private residences to large- and small-scale museums, government buildings, urban planning projects, and installations at the Venice Biennale and Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as experimentation in furniture and graphic design. In 1999 he set up the Graduate Center of Architecture at Peking University, which he has headed ever since. He also lectures at several schools in the U.S. and travels frequently through Asia, Europe, and North America.
Web site: www.fcjz.com (English introduction to major projects)
Looking forward, rooted in the past
Yung Ho Chang is one of the world's most closely watched Chinese architects. Born in Beijing in 1956, he spent 15 years studying and teaching in the United States before returning to open Atelier FCJZ in 1993. Translated as "unusual architecture," FCJZ (feichang jianzhu) was Beijing's first private architectural firm and its steady stream of innovative projectsincluding buildings, exhibitions, and publicationshas helped define a broad notion of what Chinese architectural practice can and should be.
Possessing a local sensibility and a global awareness in equal degrees, FCJZ is concerned with ecology, reuse, and historical continuity as ignited by contemporary conditions. The atelier has produced many notable large projects, particularly some prescient factory renovations. But Chang's admirable attitude toward history and tradition can perhaps best be seen in his fine houses, particularly the Split House of 2002 (part of developer Pan Shi Yi's Commune by the Great Wall).
|Yung Ho Chang's Split House, which as the name suggests presents two symmetrical houses joined by a glass bridge
(photos courtesy of Atelier FCJZ).
Conceived as a single volume split in two, this house hugs the hilly ground in terraces and forms a generous but intimate and private courtyard. At approximately 450 square meters, it is luxurious, and its open spaces and crisp overall massing speak the modern language. Living, dining, kitchen, and sitting rooms are single loftlike spaces illuminated by expansive and trim glass curtain walls, while large bedrooms with spacious open terraces occupy the second floor. The house bubbles with contemporary excitement. But the primary building material is down-to-earth: rammed earth.
Rammed earth is an ancient and nearly forgotten building method. Soil with a high clay content is literally pounded down and compacted until it achieves a hardness and durability that rivals concrete, has extremely high insulation value, and is ecologically sound. And beyond this, it is beautiful. Rammed earth is solid, warm, natural, irregular, and literally links a building to its site. Particularly when paired with extensive use of natural wood and activated by sunlight, it creates a warmly textured and soothingly harmonious environment. By selecting this historically resonant material for such a high profile and cutting-edge project, Chang has reintroduced it into the palette of acceptable "modern" building materials in China.
|Sha Yu Jian (Mountain Dialogue Space), built in 1998, with an expansive sheltering roof punctuated by guestrooms
(photos by Satoshi Asakawa).
This is, after all, a courtyard house, a form that's been the mainstay of Chinese domestic architecture for thousands of years. But unlike its predecessors, the courtyard of the Split House is extroverted and embraces hills and mountains in the distance as natural enclosure. The architect seems to be saying that the house is the landscape, and he even allows a creek to run through the courtyard and under the floor, a metaphysical gesture of partnership with nature.
Like many of Chang's designs, this house is intended as a prototype. Other versions could replace the split-V configuration with blocks placed parallel or perpendicular or even back to back. What this shows is a vision that extends beyond individual projects and into the future, (? replacing the all-too-common, ill-considered, and hastily constructed cookie-cutter solutions with a new kind of architectural poetry.
Articles from the 2004 SPRING issue:
Kateigaho International Edition Issues:
2005 SUMMER - 2005 SPRING - 2005 WINTER
2004 AUTUMN - 2004 SUMMER - 2004 SPRING - 2004 WINTER
2003 AUTUMN - INAUGURAL ISSUE