Bert de Muynck | MovingCities published in the Feb-March 2013 issue of Mark magazine #42 an interview with Liangfu Ni 倪良富 and Haoru Chen 陈浩如 called The Brick Whisperer. Reporting from Ningbo 宁波, the text deals with the Chinese craftsman Mr. Ni who’s skilful use of recycled bricks in the Ningbo History Museum, the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and the Ningbo Tengtou Pavilion in Shanghai has elevated him to the ranks of celebrity, particularly in this part of the world.
The Yinzhou Cultural Activity Centre in Ningbo 宁波, Ni’s latest job, was designed by architects Haoru Chen 陈浩如 and Peter Tagiuri. The 30,000-m2 public facility occupies the site of a former village. After the buildings had been torn down, the bricks were gathered and reused for the façade of the Ningbo History Museum, located about a kilometre to the west.
An extract from The Brick Whisperer :
After a walk to the nearby Ningbo History Museum, Ni reflects on his current impression of the building. Since its completion some four years ago, the walls have clearly matured. ‘It is hard to judge my own work,’ he says. ‘I put a lot of effort into this project. However, I think it looks so much better today than when it was just finished. These walls have to age.’ Were they particularly difficult to build? ‘The walls are both tall and thin,’ he says, ‘so I had to make them very strong. Traditional Ningbo walls are not as high as this one. As the brick came in different and random sizes, we needed to make a lot of adaptations during construction.’ How did he make sure the wall wouldn’t collapse? He thinks, takes a drag on his cigarette and hesitates, as if about to share a secret. His eyes x-ray the façade. After a while he whispers: ‘There are hidden concrete beams in the façade. Only I can see them. Without them, the structure would not be safe.’
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Pictures by Mónica Carriço /movingcities.org