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Shao Weiping: Growth Means Constant Transcendence

Date:2014-04-28 0comments Clicks :5562

The moment we met, Shao Weiping started talking about the Z15 Tower (China Zun) enthusiastically. The building, which he is now working on, is a 528-meter-tall super highrise located in the Central Business District of Beijing. With a shape that resembles a traditional Chinese ritual vessel known as “Zun”, the gracefully designed building is a little bit shorter than the Shanghai Tower, but when it comes to design challenges, it is comparable to the latter. Shao Weiping’s UFO Studio gathers design elites from Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD). As the chief architect, Shao has led these young designers not only in completing classic projects, like China Petro Office Building and Phoenix International Media Center, but also in making contributions to the design of Beijing’s Central Olympic Area and CBD.

Creations must be geared to the needs of the times

After he graduated from the School of Architecture at Tongji University in 1984, Shao Weiping left Shanghai for the city where he grew up and became an ordinary architect at the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design. There, he encountered the first project of his life, Beijing Huanwei Building and experienced the tests of several important projects, including the Beijing Asian Games, 2008 Beijing Olympics and more. The thriving economic development of China offered Chinese architects, like Shao Weiping, a chance to enrich practical experience. In addition, the introduction of the advanced foreign architectural design philosophies helped Chinese architects to learn and follow over the past 20 or 30 years, enabling them to compete with foreign counterparts on the same stage by skipping the century-long development course of the West. At present, when recalling the past and reviewing the projects he designed and constructed, he often feels unfulfilled, saying: “In those days, there were foreign architects doing design in China. Our economic conditions and aesthetic standards resulted in a closed and self-sufficient architectural model. From today’s perspective, you’ll find many projects from that period can only satisfy basic needs and cannot be compared with current ones where human orientation and technologies are concerned. Also, you’ll find many defects in these buildings, so we often renovate previous projects, like the Beijing Asian Games Village for instance, to turn the decay into a miracle.” Compared with the past, Chinese architectural design has realized considerable achievements. With the abundance of building materials and constant progress of building technologies, Chinese architects are allowed to renew their architectural philosophies and realize their dreams. 


When discussing how contemporary architecture should inherit Chinese traditions, Shao Weiping takes a clear stand, saying that the creations of architects must meet the needs of the times. “What we need to inherit are the values of the Chinese people that should be a common understanding of the whole society, but not representative of a specific class in the society.” He advocates the idea that architects should inherit and carry forward traditions from the perspective of development, and he strongly denies fully reverting to old ways or simply copying some practices. “First of all, instead of persuading people to accept something from our ancestors, we should create an architectural culture that can be accepted by the whole society. There’s a great difference in orientation.” He thinks that Chinese architects should forge ahead boldly and create new traditions that are of modern significance on the basis of modern lifestyles, conditions and aesthetics. When designing the sunken garden at the Central Olympic Area, Shao Weiping tried multiple times to come up with a concept. The design team brought forward the concept of “The Open Forbidden City”, which interpreted the connotation of Chinese traditional culture with modern languages and materials. The parameterized purlin supporters of the steel palace gate, the metal mesh partition with Chinese window frame patterns and the contrast between the red steel façade and the huge LCD screen strongly convey the values of modern life while implying the perception of tradition.


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