22 October 2011

On "quotation" and "translation"

New Academy of Art, first phase, Ningbo.

During some recent trips to Hangzhou and to Ningbo I had the opportunity to experience Wang Shu's architecture in closer detail (Ningbo Museum of Art, Ningbo Historic Museum, New Academy of Art among others). Wang Shu is known for his contextual approach, especially regarding local materials and culture. From What impressed me is the fact that he sometimes "quotes" building techniques, other times he seems to "translate" them.

Ningbo Historic Museum. Facade's cladding.

One might wonder how he came to the decision to clad the Ningbo Historic Museum with used bricks and tiles of various kinds. In fact, in many villages and towns like Cicheng, some 10km away from Ningbo, you can see how locals used diverse materials to build their walls, out of necessity reasons. Of course the main difference between the two uses is that this heterogeneous pattern has originally a structural function, while Wang Shu employs it as cladding.

Informal wall in Cichang.

An example of "translation" might be some openings in the New Academy of Art's second phase development. In one of the teaching building an inner courtyard is separated from the outside by a perforated wall, which openings remind me of some traditional Chinese garden gates, like the ones in Yuyuan in Shanghai.

New Academy of Art, second phase, Hangzhou.

Garden gate in Yuyuan, Shanghai.

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