Dong Gong - Vector Architects
Dong Gong, founder and Design Principal of Vector Architects, Beijing-based firm, one of the most interesting and authoritative figures among Chinese architects, globally applauded with important recognitions, is our guest in this podcast. After his Bachelor’s and Master’s at the Tsinghua University, he spent about seven years in US, for another Master of Architecture at the University of Illinois and working at the offices of Richard Meier and Steven Holl in New York. Practicing architect and academic educator, he has seen his extremely brilliant career acknowledged by prestigious local and international rewards. Elected as the Foreign Member of French Academy of Architecture in 2019, appointed as the Plym Distinguished Visiting Professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Visiting Professor of Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy, he has been teaching design studios at Tsinghua University and Central Academy of Fine Arts since 2014. Guest speaker and critic at prominent academic and professional institutions around the world, he has been invited to various major exhibitions, including the first Chinese architecture exhibition at MoMA New York; the 2018 “FREESPACE” Venice Biennale. The firm has been awarded the “RIBA International Awards for Excellence” for two projects in the same year, 2021, “100+ Best Architecture Firms” selected by Domus (2019), nominated for the Swiss Architectural Award (2018); overall winner of“Archmarathon Awards” in 2016; and “Design Vanguard” selected by Architectural Record (2014) and the projects, collected as a monograph in the renowned architectural journal AV Monographs, have been widely published in Casabella, Arquitectura Viva, The New York Times, A+U, Detail, The Architectural Review, L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, Lotus, Domus and many others.
Opportunity of the conversation is offered by the current exhibition at the MoMa, N.Y, dedicated to the new generation of independent Chinese architects Dong Gong belongs to, deepening the passionate commitment he has always demonstrated towards resource-consciousness and awareness of social and cultural traditional values, leading his own practice working independently from state-run design institutes.
We dwell on his architecture of deceleration and more contemplation, against a too fast urbanisation that a decade ago has dramatically transformed a vernacular, familiar context into a generic, unemotional and alien environment and on the respectful attempt of his interventions seeking to guarantee continuity with the past, offering emotionally involving experiences for the people.
Urban and natural landscapes have demonstrated his innate and attentive sensibility decoding and deciphering the energies of multiple, diverse sites: Suochengli Neighborhood Library, a regenerative intervention related to a typical Chinese courtyard-block, in the historical district of Yantai, a port city in northern China, is an evident testimony of revitalization, based on a brilliant dialogue reactivated between past and present. The Captain’s House, famous, award-winning work related to a house that sit on the rocks, on a cliff by the sea, on the Peninsula of Beijiao Village, in Fujian Province, represents another extremely significant intervention that, motivated by the need to address conditions of deterioration of the building, has provided a series of unexpected and unrequested important, valuable additions on an aesthetic-emotional level and from a social point of view. Light is another element that plays a fundamental role in his architecture, often revealing an intense aspiration to break limitations and boundaries as exemplary suggests the small Seashore Chapel, in close contact with the infinity of the ocean or intending to help meditation, relaxation and enjoyment as in the Seashore library.
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