Monday, May 7, 2012

The Story of Little Sunflower-Seed

I wonder whether you have heard the story of the little Sunflower-seed. It goes something like this:

The little Sunflower-seed is innocent and ignorant, cheerful and carefree.
The little Sunflower-seed knows his destiny is to grow into the magnificent Sunflower.
He knows his destiny very well.
But the little Sunflower-seed knows not the hardships of growing before he could Blossom.

'Hey, little Sunflower-seed,' said the magnificent Sunflower.
'Let me tell you the story of growing into a sunflower'

'First you must find a perfect ground to grow.
The ground must be moist enough to stimulate the root,
And it must contain enough nutrition for growth,
And it must be soft enough for the root to penetrate into.'

'After finding the perfect ground, the real challenge begins.
It is the very first step of growing.
You must push your root hard through your shell,
And ground you root firmly,
So that you can stand up strong in the future,
Through the stormy rain.'

'When you grow you'll need food and water,
Which do not come easily and free.
Sometimes, if you are lucky,
The rain will fall.
But most of the time, you will not have the luck.'

'When happened, you must prepare for hunger.
You must find what you need to grow independently,
Your root must dig down to the hardest crust of the earth,
Growing toward as many direction as you can,
Just to find the precious water,
Which is so dear to us.'

As the magnificent Sunflower continues,
The little Sunflower-seed listens.
The little Sunflower-seed did not know,
That to Blossom is a struggle.

'Sometimes, before you can Blossom,
You will get attacked.
The insects love your leaves and your stalk.
They will cut and chew on you.
It will be painful but it will not kill you.
As long as you have strong root grounded,
You will grow back no matter how much it hurt you.'

The magnificent Sunflower concludes,
'The process to Blossom is long and hard,
A Sunflower-seed, you may be,
Clarity, you may have for your destiny,
But know that not all sunflower-seed can Blossom.'

'But when you do Blossom,
You will be Magnificent.'

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Architecture Is Surely An Art

I used to be symmetrical freak and a grid freak.
I used to follow grids,
And then I started to think,
And I realized that those were chains,
That Frank Lloyd Wright was chained to the 30-60 grid,
And there was no freedom in it for him,
And that grids are an obsession,
A crutch.
You do not need that if you can create spaces and forms and shapes.
That is what artists do, and they do not have grids and crutches,
They do it.

I was interested in what the artists were doing,
How they were working with materials and craft,
And consequently learnt a lot from them.
I wanted to deal with the craft,
I wanted to deal with the people who were making the buildings,
I wanted to engaged them
—which is not the way we are trained as architects.
I wanted to break down those barriers
—which will take two more lifetimes.

by Frank Gehry

Deformation And Evolution

Perhaps the observation of things has remained my most important formal education; for observation later becomes transformed into memory. Now I seem to see all the things I have observed arranged like tools in a neat row; they are aligned as in a botanical chart, or a catalogue, or a dictionary. But this catalogue, lying somewhere between imagination and memory, is not neutral; it always reappears in several objects and constitutes their deformation and, in some way, their evolution.

Whenever I followed the progress of my few realized projects, I liked the errors made on the construction site, the little deformations, the changes which became remedial in some unexpected way. Indeed, they amazed me because they began to seem the life of the structure. As a matter of fact, I believe that any original order is open to practical changes, and that it allows for all the failures of human weakness. Because of this belief, my commitment has always been fundamentally different from that of my contemporaries and professors.

by Aldo Rossi

The Impact of Major Urban Architectural Projects

There is a natural reaction from citizens and from governments when their cultures are not reflected in urban building projects. This often comes up in the Middle East. So many international architects make it their business to be contextual. As a result, their projects will feature doves, camels, falcons and other first-degree symbols of local history.

This issue is fascinating because if you look back a hundred years, you find that there was still such a thing as Indian architecture, Thai architecture, Chinese architecture, African architecture, Dutch architecture and Russian architecture. But now, almost all of these languages have disappeared, and are subsumed in a larger and seemingly universal style. The process has been like the disappearance of a spoken language.
Remnants of these differences still exist. For example, a high-rise in Singapore is inhabited in a very different way from a high-rise in the suburbs of Paris or a high-rise in China. Each of these cultures, which once had its own form of speaking, is not trying to resurrect its old language, but is interested in defining and asserting its uniqueness again.

On the other hand, some cultures have managed to maintain their distinctiveness. It still is meaningful to say that someone is a Japanese architect, but relatively meaningless to say that someone is an American or a Dutch architect. The Dutch happily subsumed their identity into international modernism and found international resonances and connections. In Japan, however, there has always been an insistence that even a modern thing should respect tradition. Japanese forms are still particularly careful, particularly well made, particularly intricate; they do not surrender to a large or brutal scale.

by Rem Koolhaas

Construction Process and Workers Techniques

I like this process: you start with a certain kind of thinking, but as it progresses, you can't control the result completely, but the result is still controlled. I think this is very near traditional Chinese philosophy — how to balance nature and human beings' abilities.

by Wang Shu

Architect/Client Relationship

Never talk to a client about architecture. Talk to him about his children. That is simply a good politics. He will not understand what you have to say about architecture most of the time.
An architect of ability should be able to tell a client what he wants. Most of the time a client never knows what he wants.
He may, of course, have some very curious ideas, and I do not mean to say that they are silly ideas.
But being untrained in architecture they just cannot know what is possible and what is not possible.

by Mies van der Rohe