Writing Biographies for Foreign Designers in China — Editorial of the No. 5 Issue for 2013, Landscape Architecture Frontiers
By Kongjian Yu
第一类是御用设计师，其中的重要代表是郎世宁（GiuseppeCastiglione，1688-1766）， 意大利人，本来是被教会派到中国传教的，结果却被康熙召进宫中，做了宫廷画师，放弃了原本伟大的理想，终生侍奉康、雍、乾三朝大帝。为了讨好皇帝，他甚至改变自己的油画技法和当时先进的透视学原理，而屈服于皇帝的嗜好，人像都不能画阴影，甚至连作画题材都由皇帝指定。郎世宁的主要设计工作是奉命参与圆明园西洋楼的修建。他还专门向乾隆皇帝引荐了另一位天才——蒋友仁（Benoist Michael，1715－1774），法国人，原来也是被派到中国来传教的。他精通数学、天文学及物理。原本可让这样的大才发展国家之科学与济民之术，乾隆却"不问苍生问鬼神"，蒋友仁受宠若惊地被召到宫中设计喷泉跌水等游戏，先做了"谐奇趣"的大水法，后又做了蓄水楼、养雀笼、黄花阵、海晏堂、远瀛观等等之水法工程，一干就是12个年头。以这样两位奇才为代表的外国御用设计师，皆可谓大才，本可以为中国的发展做出更有意义的贡献、发挥更大的作用，却不幸受困于权贵牢笼，其设计作品留给世人的无非那些作为封建帝王陪葬品的汉白玉残石之类。
Designers, currently or previously, working in China in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban development can, so far as I know, be classified into four categories:
Category I: Imperial Designers. The key representative of this category is Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), an Italian who was originally sent by the church to China on missionary duty, but was summoned by Emperor Kang Xi to become a court painter. He gave up his mission, instead devoting his life to serving Emperors Kang Xi, Yong Zheng, and Qian Long. In order to please the emperors, he even changed his painting technique, adding then advanced perspective rules. His work was highly controlled by the Emperor, for example, shadows were not allowed in portraits, and the emperors decided on the subjects of his paintings. Castiglione’s major design task was to participate in construction of the western mansions of the Old Summer Palace. He recommended Benoist Michael (1715-1774), a Frenchman who originally was also sent to China for missionary work, to Emperor Qian Long. Michael, highly adept at mathematics, astronomy and physics, could have contributed significantly to developing China’s national sciences and livelihood. However, common people were not the concern of Emperor Qian Long. Instead, Michael was summoned by the emperor to design fountains and cascades for the imperial court. He spent 12 years designing a fountain called Xieqiqu, and then famous fountains such as Yangquelong, Huanghuazhen, Haiyantang and Yuanyingguan. Foreign imperial designers, such as Castiglione and Michael, could have played a greater and more meaningful role in the development of China, but unfortunately they were confined within the court, leaving behind them only ruins of white marble and mortuary objects of past emperors.
Category II: Star Designers. This group of designers is famous in the western world for their unique characteristics and styles. Early in the 1980s they only appeared in academic textbooks or magazines, and were not employed by Chinese developers or local governments because they were: 1) extremely high priced compared to local Chinese designers; 2) too insistent in their own styles to design according to the will of officials; and 3) unwilling to come to China. At that time, China had a poor international reputation, and while some Chinese developers loved their ideas, they refused to pay foreign designers. Chinese urban planners were good at "absorbing the good points of all parties" by inviting well-known designers to draw up solutions and then giving them to local designers for a "comprehensive scheme". But late in the 1990s, as urban development was pushed forward, rich governments and property developers started spending money recklessly by employing star designers. Particularly, in the past decade when the western economy has been stuck by recession and the Chinese currency has appreciated, star designers, regardless of their reputations, have crowded into Chinese cities, to see their designs realized. The Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, garden exhibitions of all types, and large-scale design competitions for new cities have turned China into an arena and experimental base for high profile foreign designers. Originally known for their personal characteristics and styles, these star designers were labeled uniformly in China as "top international designers", and were employed by urban policy-makers who wanted to brag about being "international" and "world-class". The result has been a pile of experimental objects, many of which were not in use ten years after construction, while other projects were in almost ruins upon their completion due to low construction quality. No one was willing to shoulder the high maintenance cost. The result resembles the aftermath of a grand party, where both the hosts and guests are gone, leaving behind a messed- up house.
Category III: Commercial Designers. These designers have a clear objective: they come to China because it is lucrative. Since the beginning of reform and opening in the 1980s, it has been a common consensus among Chinese developers that "foreign designs are better than the local ones", which, to a great extent, is true. Under such a guise of worshiping all things foreign, foreign designs have been used as a pretext by the Chinese developers and policy-makers for radical urban development. Residential projects, with such names as "Palace of Fontainebleau", "Champs-Elysées", "Seine Villa", "Leela Villa", and even "Spain Town", "Italian Town", "German Town", and "Mediterranean Town" have been emerging in large numbers. In these developments, western designers have a chance to fully display their skilled experience and techniques. Compared with small-scale "leftover" projects in their own countries, millions of square kilometers in China are open to architectural and landscape design and experimentation. In China, foreign designers have been treated like stars, their portraits and resumes printed on the brochure cover of housing projects. Some even have their photos and design manuscripts hanging for promotion at airports and on billboards in urban squares. To expand their business, these foreign design offices have established branches in China, employing young Chinese designers, and in some cases are larger than their home offices abroad. Compared to the local designers, these foreign designers, real or fake, charge much higher fees. Since foreign designers are so popular, some Chinese designers, with or without an overseas education, set up foreign-named offices and employ one or two European designers as window dressing, and even ask foreign actors to play as a designer to do presentations to clients. In short, Chinese developers do not care about the quality of foreign designs, but only their foreign name. As a result, foreign designers are often only involved in the concept proposal stage, and in these cases local designers often complete construction drawings.
Category IV: Designers who are indifferent to fame and wealth. With lofty ideals and high levels of professionalism, these designers might not be star designers, but are well versed in world architectural, urban and landscape design, and often have the most advanced design concepts. They analyze, through critical thinking, the mistakes made in the urban development of western countries, and hope not to make these same mistakes in China. They spend their time trying to talk frenzied Chinese policy-makers out of designing large street blocks, awkward buildings, and made-up gardens in glamorous but useless cities. They fight construction of broad roads in order to avoid dependence on cars, but instead to develop bicycle and public transportation systems. They speak with passion to Chinese urban policy-makers about ecology and sustainability, as well as cultural heritage protection. They ask Chinese developers to love and protect their own country, and to treat old buildings and new cities with the same respect. They hope China will start a new era and lifestyle based in green design. Beginning the 1980s, such designers and wise men have come, and then left China. They were not understood, or even misunderstood, and were asked questions such as, "Why can you Americans have high buildings, broad roads and big cars, but we Chinese cannot?"The rapidly turning wheels of big development and "modernization" grounds ruthlessly over the suggestions and designs of these types of idealistic designers, leaving behind wails and, later on, regret. "What if I had listened to the foreign designers!" is a sentence I have heard from the Chinese mayors time after time. Due to their ideals and uncompromising attitude, this type of foreign designer has not been able to leave many built works in China, but they have worked to change the concepts and values of Chinese policy-makers. Thanks to joint efforts made by designers and local Chinese, the question of "what is good design?" is becoming clearer. Compared to the prolific designers of the other three categories, these designers are more respectable in many ways, for they have been promoting an ethos of a healthier land for all of China.
I respect all four types of designers, and all have played a positive role in the development of China, including improvements in the income and social status of Chinese designers, and the exchange and advancement of technologies. If I have unintentionally showed a disregard for some of these designers that is only because I think they were not born at the right time. Or, in other words, without the necessary taste and pursuit of quality, China as the client, was not always ready to embrace talented international designers. Instead of pursuing quality design in China, what is most currently needed is to teach clients to appreciate good design. High quality design is what I have come to expect most from the foreign designers. Because of this, I admire in particular the foresight of designers in Category IV, the idealistic designers who are indifferent to fame and wealth. To these designers I want to raise a memorial and write biographies, for they are the most indelibly positive force that has contributed and promoted urban development and advancement of the design industry in China.
Editorial (by Kongjian YU)
Lessons from China: Re-Weaving Urban Fabrics (by Renee CHOW)
Views and Criticisms
New Matters of Inclusiveness (by Dihua LI)
Not “Foreign” Anymore — New Thinking on China’s Design Market (by Ole BOUMAN)
“China Time” in the Design Field (by Robert MANGURIAN, Mary-Ann RAY)
“They” and “We” — History of Western Architects’ Practice in China (by Keyang TANG)
Chinese Design Community is Panning Gold out of Sand (by Xiangrong WANG)
Australia and China: Comparative Differences in Landscape Design (by Lun LI, Shu HUANG)
A Survey of the Status of Foreign Designers’ Career in China
The China Design Market in Transformation Period (by Paul Vincent BLAZEK)
Creating the Ideal Environment for Human Beings (by B. Scott LAMONT)
Designing a Better World (by Michael GROVE)
Environmental and Cultural Equilibrium in China (by Tom LEADER)
Journeys in Chinese Urbanization — Not so Common Ground (by James BREARLEY)
A Half “Beijinger” (by Keiichiro SAKO)
An Experienced “New Comer” (by Adriaan GEUZE)
Experiments and Processes
Artificial Morphogenesis: The Guangzhou Tower Delta Studio (by Jeffrey HUANG, Trevor PATT, Peter ORTNER)
Design as a Tool for Change: Transformation of the Post Productive Landscape of Deep Bay, Hong Kong (by Tyler AUSTIN)
【英文刊名】Landscape Architecture Frontiers • Foreign Designers Venture into China
【作者】罗伯特•曼固彦（Robert MANGURIAN）、唐克扬（Keyang TANG）、王向荣（Xiangrong WANG）等
Lessons from China: Re-Weaving Urban Fabrics
作者：芮妮•周 Author: Renee CHOW
Over the past 30 years, Chinese cities provided an unprecedented opportunity — to design, to experiment, and to innovate. The lure of the biggest and most unusual design commissions offered by the Chinese government as well as private developers fostered an influx of foreign designers. A convergence of Chinese and foreign practices in which progress and “international achievement” were confused, and iconic images of governmental, corporate or architectural identity subsumed urban identities. The result has been a cacophony of competing markers and a loss of urban identity and legibility within and among Chinese cities. This narrative is not unique to China, and the dearth of strategies for rapid development is the next challenge for all designers.
Key words ...
China’s Cities; Urban Design; Identity; Legibility; Urban Fabrics; Continuity
New Matters of Inclusiveness
作者：李迪华 Author: Dihua LI
As the deputy chief editor of Landscape Architecture Frontiers, Dihua Li explained the background of this issue’s theme, Foreign Designers Venture into China, and other issues facing design education and industry development in China. Remarks were also made about the role that foreign designers and firms play in the development of China’s design market.
Key words ...
China; Foreign Designers / Firms; Design Education; International Integration
Not “Foreign” Anymore — New Thinking on China’s Design Market
作者：奥雷•鲍曼 Author: Ole BOUMAN
In this interview, Ole Bouman, creative director of the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture, speaks about changes in the attraction of foreign designers to work in China, and what potential new architectures might come out of these changes.
Key words ...
China; Foreign Designer; Design Industry; Shift
“China Time” in the Design Field
作者：罗伯特•曼固彦、玛丽安•雷 Author: Robert MANGURIAN, Mary-Ann RAY
Based on the authors’ many years of research and practice in China, this article analyzed the “urban village” in Caochangdi, Beijing, evaluated the rapid urbanization process in China, and indicated that more and more Chinese architects and landscape architects have gained great international influence and reputation, and the future design field will usher in a new “China Time”.
Key words ...
China; Caochangdi; Urban Village; Nong Min Gong; Urbanization
“They” and “We” — History of Western Architects’ Practice in China
作者：唐克扬 Author: Keyang TANG
In this paper, “they” refers to all foreign designers who have practiced in China. “They” has never changed, but in the increasingly globalized world, “we” has become something unrecognizable. The moment “they” emerged as a concept in Chinese design culture, was the exact moment “we” needed a definition for “we”. Historically, western architects who have had significant impacts on Chinese architecture are little known in their home countries. At the same time, “we” are so afraid of losing ourselves that we have been made afraid of our own shadows. With the influx of foreign designers, we have trapped ourselves in a dilemma of identity. There is no problem with learning from the West, but the problem is that China has become soaked in pragmatism and opportunism. Looking back at western architects’ gains and losses in Chinese architecture over the 20th Century, such worries stem from lessons and experiences that could have been learned long ago.
Key words ...
They; We; Overseas Practices
Chinese Design Community is Panning Gold out of Sand
作者：王向荣 Author: Xiangrong WANG
In the process of rapid urbanization, China has become an inevitable target for aspiring foreign designers because of the numerous amount, large scale, and fast pace of urban construction projects. The interviewee, his dual role as an educator and a practitioner, reviews foreign designers’ engagement in China, and points out that Chinese clients have been more and more rational to inviting foreign designers, and the strength of Chinese designers has growingly enhanced.
Key words ...
China; Urban Construction; Foreign Designer; Landscape Architecture; Globalization
Australia and China: Comparative Differences in Landscape Design
作者：李伦、黄姝 Author: Lun LI, Shu HUANG
Landscape architecture in China is a rapidly growing industry, and despite positive economic growth is currently facing challenges and growing pains. In comparison, landscape architecture is a well-established profession in Australia, and therefore provides a good model for professional development in China. This paper analyzes differences in Chinese and Australian landscape design styles, philosophies and practices, to enhance the level in landscape design, vocational education, professional spirit, and industry association in order to create a better industry development environment and patterns.
Key words ...
China; Australia; Landscape Design; Difference; Improvement
The China Design Market in Transformation Period
作者：保罗•文森特•布拉泽克 Author: Paul Vincent BLAZEK
AECOM is a global consulting group which provides professional technical and management services. The services provided by Planning + Design | Economics include urban design, master planning, landscape design, environmental planning, economic planning, strategic planning, leisure and cultural planning. In this interview, Paul Vincent Blazek, the landscape director, introduced the landscape design practices of AECOM in China; summarized the key factors to success in China market; analyzed the characteristics of design market in China; and provided insights to the development prospect of China design industry.
Key words ...
China; AECOM; Opportunity; International; Challenge; Ambition
Creating the Ideal Environment for Human Beings
作者：B•斯考特•拉蒙特 Author: B. Scott LAMONT
As an environmental landscape planning and design firm that has a history over 50 years, EDSA has been widely recognized for their unparalleled creativity in large-scale comprehensive develoment project, tourism and resort project, residential project, municipal project, and park and recreation projects. In this interview, B. Scott LaMont, the principal of EDSA, reviews EDSA's practices in China, evaluates the issues in China's urban construction, and introduces EDSA’s future plans in to China's design market.
Key words ...
China; EDSA; Full-Service; Project Type; Sustainability; Challenge
Designing a Better World
作者：迈克尔•格罗夫 Author: Michael GROVE
With offices in Boston and Shanghai, Sasaki Associates is an award-winning international design firm focusing on planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering, interior design, and graphic design. Since 1999, the firm has been at the leading edge of design in China, developing innovative ideas and strategies for projects throughout the country. In this interview, Sasaki reviews their experiences in China over the past 15 years and provides their insight into the nation's design future.
Key words ...
Sasaki Associates Inc.; China; Landscape Architecture Industry; Planning; Urban Construction
Environmental and Cultural Equilibrium in China
作者：汤姆•里德 Author: Tom LEADER
Tom Leader Studio (TLS) is an award wining landscape architecture practice with offices in California, Minnesota and HongKong. Since its inception in 2001, the studio has invested and built upon the unique, inherent qualities of cities and their landscapes. In so doing, TLS seeks to provide a link between emerging ideas and practices and the concrete need for their realization in physical space. In this interview, Leader talks about TLS's practices and experiences in China and how an "equilibrium of design" may bring a brighter future for the nation.
Key words ...
China; Tom Leader Studio; Equilibrium Project; Quality of Life
Journeys in Chinese Urbanization — Not so Common Ground
作者：詹姆斯•布莱利 Author: James BREARLEY
Brearley Architects + Urbanists (BAU) is an Australian design firm which founded in 1992, with its Shanghai office established in 2001. Concentrating on China's urban construction, their projects involve architecture, urban design and landscape design. As the founder of BAU, James Brearley reflects upon his team’s exploring of Chinese market, and criticizes China's urban construction on several aspects.
Key words ...
China; Australia; Design Practice; Design Culture
A Half “Beijinger”
作者：迫庆一郎 Author: Keiichiro SAKO
Founded in 2004 in Beijing, SAKO Architects has completed more than 70 projects in China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and Spain. In addition to the core services of architectural design and interior design, the office also provides services in graphic design, signage design, landscape architecture, and urban planning. In this interview, Keiichiro Sako, founder of the office, introduces his design practices in China, and his design philosophy of developing the “Chinese brand” architecture.
Key words ...
China; Foreign Designer; Architectural Design; Design Market; Project Management System
An Experienced “New Comer”
作者：阿德里安•高伊策 Author: Adriaan GEUZE
West 8是一家获得过众多国际大奖的城市规划和景观设计事务所。自1987年成立以来，West 8已经发展为一支由70多位建筑师、城市设计师、景观设计师和工程师组成的国际化团队。在本次采访中，事务所创始人阿德里安•高伊策就近三年来West 8在中国所取得的突飞猛进的发展进行了回顾与评述。
West 8 is an award-winning international office for urban design and landscape architecture, founded in 1987. West 8 has established itself as an international team of over 70 architects, urban designers, landscape architects and engineers. In this interview, Adriaan Geuze, the founder of this office, reviews their significantly growing involvement in China during the last three years.
Key words ...
China; Landscape Architecture; Urban Design; Playfulness
Artificial Morphogenesis: The Guangzhou Tower Delta Studio
作者：杰弗里•黄、特雷弗•帕特、彼得•奥特纳 Author: Jeffrey HUANG, Trevor PATT, Peter ORTNER
In this article we use the Guangzhou Tower Delta Studio as a case study to discuss novel parametric urban design processes for the ecological development of new urban settlements. Conventional master plans typically propose a single static ‘end’ condition (at best with a few intermediate phases) derived from top-down visions, often incapable of responding to site-specific microclimatic, topographical and cultural conditions. Frozen in an outmoded context, such strategies deliver ineffective planning in the short-term and require extensive recapitulation in the long-term. In our experimental research, we challenge traditional master plans and explore novel, morphogenetic processes for designing architecture and urban/landscape systems organically, by employing bottom-up, data-driven design strategies, consisting of a computational reading of the performative characteristics operating at a site, a parametric simulation of alternative urban developments over time, and a sculpting of landscape and building forms that address the simultaneous needs for environmental performance and typological invention.
Key words ...
Morphogenesis; Computational Urbanism; Data-driven Design; Parametric Typologies
Design as A Tool for Change: Transformation of the Post Productive Landscape of Deep Bay, Hong Kong
作者：泰勒•奥斯丁 Author: Tyler AUSTIN
Studying social, ecologic and economic dimensions, a design language is revealed ignored by most designers and policy makers today. LandLAB challenges issues in planning design to think about the importance of landscape behaviors affected by urbanization through exploratory research principals to understand unforeseen complexities in landscape infrastructure where problems are typically hidden, yet revealed through imagery and maps.
LandLAB is a joint research laboratory between Peking University and Turenscape. Recently, having joined forces with HKU and PKU students for a 7-day joint workshop during March 2013, exploring impeding urbanization affects on landscape ecologie. The workshop titled, “Transformation of Post Productive Landscape”, was programmed with guest lectures from Turenscape, as well as tutorial sessions. This was a learning laboratory for students, teachers, and professionals alike, to teach, learn and explore new insightful methods towards landscape urbanism.
Key words ...
LandLAB; Landscape Design; Workshop; Transformation of Post Productive Landscapes; Deep Bay