Located in the northern zone of the core region of Chongqing, China, the project consists of a cliffside building designed and constructed into its surrounding mountain facade. The main structure has been completed, and designers have deconstructed and reconstructed its internal spaces with an infusion of architectural elements conducive to the topography, resulting in the creation of a rich architectural, urban space.
The 3,000m² project consists of four floors. The main entrance is located on the third level, providing access to the main sales centre functional areas, including exhibition space, which spans the second and third floors. Embracing the sales centre, the ground floor features a heated swimming pool and health club, while a small art gallery occupies the fourth floor.
What do you see as the strengths of your winning project and what does this award mean to you personally?
The design of the winning project was based on the careful study of the site context and it was designed specifically for the unique site, local users and the client’s needs. The fragmented formation reflects the inner dynamics of the site power and represents the fast development of the city of Chongqing. It was intended to introduce the multi-layered artistic spatial quality to city life.
The IDA Awards is one of the most prestigious design awards in the world. Winning the award is a big encouragement to my career path. The winning project is part of the process of our exploration focusing on the relationship between people, architecture and city with a very innovative approach.
What impact has winning this IDA Award had on your career/opportunities?
Winning the IDA awards will have a very positive impact on my career not only because it will increase the opportunities on the market but also the confidence in my practice. aoe is a practice with around 30 young architects and designers, we are a very dynamic group active in China. We aim to improve the quality of our living environment and have a positive contribution to a sustainable world. The IDA awards will be a very important way to make our design philosophy and our effort exposed to the world.
What was most important for you when planning the project and what were the biggest challenges you faced?
The most important for me when planning the project is to think about what kind of facility we want to bring to the city and the specific site. Based on the research we did, we found that the current development of the city of Chongqing has a very big demand to have high-level design quality throughout the city. The project serves as a seed we want to implant into the city.
The project has a very unique site with one side having a very steep cliff and the other side facing the city road. The biggest challenge is to balance both sides of the building with two very different spatial qualities. The solid was applied on the city side to reduce the noise of the busy city road and make a very artistic appearance towards the city. The openness was applied towards the natural cliff to maximize the benefit of the beautiful view of nature.
What is your guiding design principle?
aoe stands for ‘architecture of event’. The key design principle of aoe is to explore the relationship between the architecture and users and how to stimulate the positive possibilities and experiences between each other.
Where do you get motivation and inspiration for your work?
The motivation and inspiration are various. It depends on the project type and the site conditions. It has a lot to deal with personal life experiences and professional skills. We try to make the design approach a very rational and logical process and the outcome is a result of a series of fundamental and thorough studies and research. Problem-solving is a key principle of all stages during the execution of a project. The innovative approach to problem-solving is the key driving force to achieve the most appropriate for the users and cities.
How do you think your own culture and environment have shaped your personal and professional creative vision?
I was born in the city of Xi’an in China. My Chinese cultural background has had a profound influence on my design philosophy. Many of my projects showed a very strong link to Chinese culture and philosophy. The Chinese culture has very strong, different and unique characteristics from the rest of the world. There is a very special relationship between nature, architecture and human beings influenced by Chinese philosophy. My overseas educational background also helped me to discover and explore Chinese culture from a new perspective. In some of my projects, with the application of modern design technics, a totally new design approach created some of the highlights in my career.
What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your career/industry now?
Environmental issues become the biggest challenges in the world now. Mother nature is overconsumed by human beings. It’s time to rethink the balance between our living environment and nature. The design industry will need to be adapted to rethink more clever and responsible design approaches. The opportunities caused by the demand for adjustment are huge for all design industries.
What kind of questions do you ask before beginning a design project? What piece of information is of utmost value?
Many issues including site condition, local culture and climate, client’s needs, adjacencies, the objective and vision, and lifestyle are all crucial factors to be considered. Architecture is a complex combination of very complicated visible and invisible components. All of them are strongly related and connected. A sophisticated architect should be able to have all issues well considered and managed.
Tell us about a time when a client disliked your work.
A successful project is a result of the work of the project team. It includes the client, architect and many other consultants. It’s an effort of the mutual collaboration of all different parties in a project. Sufficient communication between client and architect is essential to ensure the best understanding of a project from different views to develop the best suitable design schemes which will benefit both the client and users. The adjustment of the design scheme is the common process of the design. Sometimes we insist on our idea and persuade our client with sufficient materials and sometimes we follow the client’s suggestion if it will have a positive impact.
How do you deal with feedback?
Feedback is a very important communication tool and every single comment is seriously taken into account with a very carefully developed response. It’s one of the most important key processes to ensure a successful project.