A bosom friend afar brings distant land near. The Oversea album shares the lives of Chinese living abroad with all. The No.93 episode is about Xiaotang Tang who graduated from Harvard GSD.
Why going abroad?
I discovered my interest in architecture as a freshman majoring in medicine at Peking University, yet the university doesn’t have an architecture program. I then decided to study abroad to pursue my interest.
What impressed you the most when you are abroad?
I switched my major many times before coming to GSD to study architecture. I was studying medicine at Peking University and urban planning/ landscape architecture at Cornell University. I realized that there is not a standard path I can follow. I need to discover my passion, figure out what is important to me, and define my path.
What do you miss the most about China?
Will you come back China? Why?
Yes! After interning at OMA Rotterdam and Neri & Hu, I discovered that there are more projects in China, with shorter construction periods and good design quality. I figure it would be an ideal environment for young architects.
Is it more distinct to view China in a different environment after going abroad? Any thought?
2020 has been surreal. The pandemic puts different systems in stark contrasts, prompting everyone to reevaluate their understanding of the US and China. Going back and forth between the two environments has made me realize that there isn’t a perfect system, each with their pros and cons. To determine where to stay is rather a personal choice.
What makes the curriculum of your school different from other architecture schools?
GSD is a diverse community. I was taught by professors from the US, Germany, Italy, and Mexico. I took classes on Japanese Buddhist sculptures as well as machine learning. Such diverse experiences made me understood that the world is big, but we also share many similarities.
Who is your favorite artist (in wider range such as art, music, movie)? What is the influence?
棋士吴清源、摄影师土门拳、画家吴冠中，建筑师王澍、Herzog & de Meuron都是我崇拜的大师。让我知道好作品要踏踏实实、诚诚恳恳。
Go Seigen, Ken Domon, Wu Guanzhong, Wang Shu, and Herzog & de Meuron are masters that I deeply admire. From them, I learned that good projects are grounded and honest.
What fascinates viewers the most in your portfolio in your opinion?
作品集都是我学生时期的探索，比起迷人我更希望传递诚恳，甚至是笨拙，我还有很多方面想要努力尝试。我对建筑中传统和现代的关系很感兴趣，常常参考Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi, Rafael Moneo, Pier Vittorio Aureli, Miroslav Sik。作品集还望多批评指教。
The projects are my explorations/ experiments at GSD. Instead of fascination, I’d rather the readers catch a sense of honesty across the projects. I’m interested in the tension between tradition and modernity, and the writings from Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi, Rafael Moneo, Pier Vittorio Aureli, and Miroslav Sik. I am looking forward to the critiques.
When did you start to follow gooood? Any suggestions?
Around 2014. Has gooood considered opening a section for architecture history/ theory?
W O R K
The project is called the Novel Museum, which reimagines the social responsibility of art museums. In response to the idea that museums today are seen as high culture destinations, disconnected from society., I propose a provocation called the Mega-Novel Museum. It’s 1km by 1.5 km in size, envisioning a truly egalitarian space. It understands art as a reflection of reality, allowing all kinds of activities such as political demonstrations, community gatherings, and backyard sales.
▼重构博物馆概念场地图，Novel Museum Provocation Site Plan
▼重构博物馆概念模型，Novel Museum Provocation Model
▼重构博物馆概念平立面，Novel Museum Provocation Plan Section
▼重构博物馆概念室内渲染，Novel Museum Provocation Interior View
Located in central Berlin, the museum I propose is 50 meter by 50 meter in size, cantilevering over the water. It is composed of two parts, a flat social level, and a series of pits. The social level is not ticketed, allowing the public to visit and hang out freely. The artworks are located in series of pits, which are accessible through a delicate circulation system composed of ramps and elevators. The pits’ spatial qualities range from public to private. It is the artist’s choice to decide where in the museum their artworks are exhibited.
▼重构博物馆场地渲染，Novel Museum Site Render
▼重构博物馆模型，Novel Museum Model
▼重构博物馆场地剖面，Novel Museum Site Section
自工业化以来，传统和现代的关系一直是建筑界热衷的议题。诸多大师，如JNL Durand, Kenzo Tange, Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi都曾对此发表自己的见解。中国亦不例外，自上世纪以来几代建筑人做出了诸多将传统建筑现代化的尝试。第一波新中式的浪潮源自上世纪初，一批留洋归国建筑师尝试探索具有民族特色的现代建筑，其中以“大屋顶”这一建筑类型最为常见。第二波热潮则在本世纪初兴起，快速的城市化进程引发了大众对传统建筑消弭的危机感，一批探求新中式建筑的大师如张永和、王澍、张轲等应运而生。
Since the beginning of modernity, architects have been seeking ways to reconstruct their links with tradition. Along this path, the disjunction between interior and exterior has been a lingering issue throughout history. China is also an active participant in this thread. Generations of architects dedicated their careers searching for Chinese-ness in the modern context.
Despite the efforts, the old-new projects collectively exhibited several shortcomings. To begin with, the image of Chinese architecture is mostly confined to rural and historical regions, evading the fact that the majority of Chinese live in the urban environment. Secondly, the old-new projects often focus on the exterior, failing to address the traditional spatial organization in the interior. Moreover, most of the projects are limited to three typologies, the big roof, courtyard housing, and village housing, indicating a lack of knowledge in Chinese architecture history.
Therefore, the thesis aims to adapt the traditional typologies into modern programs, bringing forth the Chinese-ness through the spatial organization rather than material or motif, reconciling the interior-exterior relationship of traditional typologies and providing a refreshing approach the tradition and modernity debate. Three traditional typologies with a strong internal organization are chosen for a close examination, the pagoda, the palace, and the cloister. They are converted into art museums, as it’s one of the modern programs mostly in need of cultural identities. All three projects are located in the periphery of Taiyuan, a typical Chinese megacity going through rapid urbanization.
▼新中式案例，Crafting Chinese-ness Precedents
As a typology, Pagoda was first introduced in China from India during the 5th century as a Buddhism structure. The typology evolved into diverse forms built with different materials such as timber, brick, and rammed earth through the following centuries. Despite the variety, the pagodas share several qualities that make them the ideal candidate to be converted to contemporary museums. The majority of the pagodas have a clear spiral visiting route that leads the visitors to each level. The revolving motion is closely tied to the Buddhism concept of reincarnation. Along this religious route, sculptures are displayed in the niches carved in the solid core, making the journey a pious and educational experience. Clarity of the visiting path and the exhibition niches coincide with the programming requirement of the modern museums, leading to my experimentation with contemporary adaptations.
▼塔室内渲染，Pagoda Interior Render
▼塔平立剖，Pagoda Plan Section Elevation
Palace is one of the oldest Chinese architecture typologies that can be dated back to the Shang Dynasty in 16th Century BC. The palaces vary in proportion and function, but they have a reasonably consistent composition. The palace is surrounded by a rectangular rammed earth wall, with a dense timber grid in the interior. Unlike most Western palaces where one can easily detect sub-components and hierarchy, the Chinese palaces create more like a field condition. One can freely move through, creating a potentially interesting open field exhibition space.
▼宫殿室内渲染，Palace Interior View
▼宫殿平立剖，Palace Plan Section Elevation
Cloister rose as a typology when Buddhism reached unprecedented popularity in the Song Dynasty in the 10th century. Typical temple hall can no longer meet the demand of large-scale Buddhist gatherings; therefore, Cloisters were developed to efficiently house thousands of monks to study and live under one roof. The cloister has a strong central axis, where the Buddhism masters deliver lectures. The central axis branches out several rows of small chambers, where monks study, meditate and sleep. Convert the cloister into a museum, the central hall offers an extensive gathering and exhibition space, whereas the small chambers on the sides provide small exhibition spaces. The excessiveness of the chambers provides the possibility for them to be easily converted into storage space, which coincides with the trending museum typology that blends storage space with exhibition rooms.
▼僧堂室内渲染，Cloister Interior View
▼僧堂平立剖，Cloister Plan Section Elevation
Boston Musical Center is a multifunctional performance facility shared by the Berklee Music College, the Boston Conservatory, and the Boston Lyric Opera. It contains a variety of programs, including concert halls, rehearsal rooms, classrooms, offices, and residential halls. Located at the crossing of two urban arteries, the center will serve as the icon of downtown Boston as well as the new cultural center. In response to the urban position, the proposal aims to design a transparent and democratic building for the public. The building is composed of slanted floor slabs with open plans that minimize the visual barriers between the building and the city. The playful floor slabs function as a performing stage, revealing the interior activities to the streets. Light wells and vertical circulations are inserted into the floor, slabs to promote internal connections.
▼波士顿音乐中心效果图，Boston Music Center Render
▼波士顿音乐中心模型，Boston Music Center Model
▼波士顿音乐中心项目结构模型，Boston Music Center Program Structure Model
▼波士顿音乐中心平面，Boston Music Center Plan
▼波士顿音乐中心立面，Boston Music Center Section
这个项目是结构课中所做的模型，考察在模型中对于结构、材料真实、细致、贴切的表达。我们选择了VTN Architects的Eco Resort Pavilion作为研究对象，使用竹签、棉线、混凝土、聚合粗木板等材料，经过浸泡、弯折、加热、组装等多道工序尽量真实的制成了1：30的大模型。
This project is from the advanced structure class, intending to reproduce the construction process with particular attention to the materiality and structure. We chose VTN Architects’ Eco Resort Pavilion as the subject of analysis. After carefully studying its construction sequence, we use bamboo sticks, strings, concrete, and oriented strand board, through a series of treatments to the bamboo, made this 1:30 model.
▼结构模型网页，Structure Model Webpage
▼结构模型制作过程，Structure Model Manufacture Process
Where: Ithaca NY and Cambridge MA
Who: Xiaotang Tang
School: Cornell University, Harvard University
Firm: OMA Rotterdam, Neri and Hu
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org，+1 607-379-1681