Bert de Muynck | MovingCities published in a recent issue of MARK magazine an interview with Chinese architect Zhang Lei 张雷 [Atelier ZhangLei]. In the interview, the Nanjing-based architect talks about his recently completed projects such as Split House and Brick House. Furthermore talk went about Chinese architecture in the 1980s, CIPEA, and his desire to become more middle of the road and keeping his work under control. Now online.
You have a lot of projects going on. Is this what you wanted a decade ago, when you founded your company? Is it what you want for the future?
Zhang Lei: Basically, I want to continue the trajectory I’m on now. There is one challenge, though. I’d like to extend my practice to include different kinds of projects. In the beginning, I avoided projects from developers, but now I’m beginning to like them. The two houses we just discussed are very special. I would like to do more run-of-the-mill projects, do a business building in a commercial city like Shanghai – that is a big challenge for us. Designing a building that gets published is a lesser challenge.
So my next step is to become more middle of the road, while still doing projects with an architectural edge. Currently, I’m designing an urban-planning museum in Chengdu. It’s been very difficult, because government officials like flaunting their power and their ambitions. But it’s also interesting to be involved in a struggle like that. I accumulated my knowledge about architecture by working on small projects.
Pictures by movingcities.org