ARTS / ART
Swiss Architecture Month launched in Hebei Province to focus on ‘sustainability’ and ‘art’
Published: Jul 18, 2021 07:08 PM
visitors at the Max Bill art exhibition Photo: Courtesy for Li

visitors at the Max Bill art exhibition Photo: Courtesy for Lin

A cultural forum on Swiss architecture and art kicked off on Saturday at Aranya, a trendy artsy tourism-oriented community space in Qinhuangdao, North China's Hebei Province, as the first chapter in space's Swiss architecture month that is set to run until mid-August. 

Collaboratively organized by the Embassy of Switzerland in China and Juanzong Books, the forum invited four ingenious Chinese architects - able to play to their oriental cultural tastes through Western approaches - to share their projects that reflect on the topic of "sustainability," a pivotal issue in architecture. 

Adopting rather abstract themes such as "sensitive mountains" and "passive architecture," the forum discussion focused on how buildings are designed to fit into the mountainous geography commonly seen in both China and Switzerland. 

Three Chinese architects Liu Kenan, Zhuang Ziyu and Yu Dao engaged the audiences by deductively showing the thought processes behind their projects to allow them to understand how they balanced idealistic vision and well-calculated functionality in their designs. 

Zhuang and Yu explained how "parallelism," an aesthetic visual quality often seen in ancient Chinese artworks, inspired his designs and how complex negotiations are often behind innovative architectural techniques.  

The three designers said they associate sustainability with a concept called  "passive architecture," which is related to a designer's desire to use natural energy sources that are internally provided by a building (through design) rather than relying on energy that is brought in from outside. 

"It is not a good concept. In my opinion, such an attempt aims to make a building self-sufficient. For example, designing a natural ventilation system for a house according to local air circulation," Dylan Yang, an architect, told the Global Times on Sunday.  

promotional meterial for Swiss Architecture Month in Qinhuangdao Photo: Courtesy for Embassy of Switzerland in China

promotional meterial for Swiss Architecture Month in Qinhuangdao Photo: Courtesy for Embassy of Switzerland in China

Alongside the forum, the space is also holding an art exhibition focused on Switzerland's most iconic modern artist Max Bill. The exhibition shows the artist's rare prints to draw audiences closer to the Bauhaus art movement - a post-war modern design philosophy that praises "simplicity" and "rationality" in art that continues to influence today's designers. 

"I became a Max Bill fan while I was studying art in Paris. I love his Helvetica character too, but never saw his real works there. I'm so pleased to see his works up close this time," Zhu, an audience member at the conference, told the Global Times on Sunday.    

Besides "architecture" and "art," a Swiss architecture book exhibition was also launched that same day. Also part of the month-long event, an online conference to discuss China-Switzerland relations is scheduled for July 30. 


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