The bus ride from Huangshan to Hangzhou took about 4 hours. By the time we checked into our hotel near West Lake in Hangzhou it was already dinner time. After a good night of rest for our legs, in the morning we decided to visit the Xiangshan Campus (象山中心校區) of China Academy of Art (中國美術學院) in the outskirt of Hangzhou. We grabbed a Chinese pork bun and walked to the waterfront promenade by West Lake. We stood by the waterlilies and finished our simple breakfast. Soon we walked over to the nearby bus stop and took a local bus heading to the direction of Xiangshan. The entire bus journey took a little over half a hour. Contemporary architecture was the reason for our visit to Xiangshan, and was our only major activity planned for our brief stay in Hangzhou.
Wang Shu (王澍), dean of the School of Architecture at China Academy of Art, is one of the most well known Chinese architects. In 1997, he and his wife Lu Wenyu (陸文宇) found their firm Amateur Architecture Studio. The couple had been teaching at the School of Architecture at China Academy of Art ever since 2000. Based in Hangzhou, their works represent a unique critical regionalism, deriving their own architectural character with contemporary reinterpretation of local heritage. Their most famous works include the Ningbo Museum (2008), and Xiangshan Campus of China Academy of Art near Hangzhou (2007). After receiving a number of international awards for their effort on redefining contemporary Chinese architecture, in 2012 Wang Shu was rewarded with the Pritzker Prize, which considered to be the highest award in the international architectural industry.
In 1928, China Academy of Art was founded in Hangzhou. It is the oldest and most famous art school in China. Today the academy has two campuses in Hangzhou, one right by West Lake at city centre, and a newer one in Xiangshan, at the southwest outskirt of the city. Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu began the design of Xiangshan Campus in 2002. Many buildings, including a library, a gallery, 6 school buildings, 2 studio buildings, 2 bridges, etc., were completed in 2004. The campus continued to expand until today, and has undoubtedly become one of the most influential projects of Amateur Architecture Studio. The campus presents a good example of Wang and Lu’s design ideology of capturing the spirit of the place and reinventing the Chinese architectural traditions into contemporary uses. Many buildings at Xiangshan were actually built in traditional construction methods, despite the use of modern materials such as glass and metal. Old roof tiles were salvaged from all over the province of Zhejiang and reused at Xiangshan as shading device and wall cladding.
We spent about three hours wandering around the campus, visited about half a dozen of buildings before heading back to the city.
Footbridges connect many buildings in Xiangshan. This is one of the interestingly designed pedestrian bridge that crosses a small canal, and has been temporarily turned into an open air exhibition space for students’ art pieces.
Despite the overall brutal finishes and craftsmanship, Wang’s and Lu’s design concepts have successfully created interesting architecture out of traditional Chinese architecture and Modernist design approaches.
Distinct brise-soleil of the two School of Architecture buildings: concrete vertical fins and masonry cross openings, create a coherent atmosphere for the exterior forecourt where the flanking contrasting textures complement each other.
Entrance to one of the School of Architecture building: Bricks are used to form a perforated skin. The word “TOMORROW” is highlighted on the wall surface by filling in the wall openings with glass bottles, like a pin art effect.
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Read other posts on 2015 Anhui and Hangzhou
1. History, Scenery, Architecture, 5-day tour of Anhui and Hangzhou, China
2. Laojie (Old Street), Tunxi, China
3. Hongcun, Anhui, China
4. Xidi, Anhui, China
5. West Sea Canyon, Huangshan, Anhui, China
6. From Monkey Watching the Sea to Welcome Pine, Huangshan, Anhui, China
7. Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
8. Folk Art Museum, Xiangshan Campus, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China