FEATURE: Different Life in Foreign University: Tsinghua University
FEATURE: Different Life in Foreign University: Tsinghua University
  • Reporter Kwon Na-eun
  • 승인 2015.03.04 17:21
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>>Interview Humanity is Also Important in Architecture
Q. Many people say humanity is very important for a scientist or an engineer. What systems or efforts are given to students to raise their humanity in Tsinghua University?
Well, painting with a broad brush, humanity is in short supply, particularly to Asian countries. It’s because every Asian country has underwent a modernization, a period of time in which engineering and science dominated the course of modernization. However, by this modernization, a lot of Asian countries lost their own tradition and China is facing a problem. So we do whatever we can whenever we can, trying to exert and trying to bring more influence from humanity to students. Currently, we balanced the course between the engineering part, science part, and humanity part. Actually, we are giving an edge to humanity courses because we do believe that’s what our students really need.

Q. What criteria do you consider when you work?
I have to know what particular community I am working for, what it really needs, what the history of that community and of that place is. And then I have to ask very specific questions in every project. Sometimes I have the answers, sometimes I don’t. When I don’t have the answers, the project is in danger. A good question could be, "What can I do?" or "What particular contribution may I do to make something happen in this place?". In architecture, the building is going to be built physically, so it’s a physical intervention. I should be able to make sure that this physical intervention will bring positive change to this existing situation, to make sure that it is better to build something than to keep the space as it is.
Q. What other skills do students need to be great architects?
I think they need to be really nice people. They have to have love for other people and for the place they are living in. If they don’t love it, they cannot do anything good. You know, you cannot use a place as a self-promoting opportunity. I have seen architects like that in China, in Korea, in the West, and everywhere. They are not good architects. Architects have some means of converting an idea into a physicality of a building and this is the particular talent. You have to imagine and see this place before the existence.
Q. We heard one of your core values in architecture is to be "spontaneous". How do you teach your students to be spontaneously innovative?
Try to think about the adjacent possibility, try to push the edge of possibility because there is always a known territory, existing patterns of solutions and known experiences. Then you have to take a risk, but don’t step too far. If you do, you know it’s hard to make a sense out of it. You just take one step further, trying to push the envelope over what is known to be currently possible.
Q. What is the heart of architecture?
It is the heart of a human being, it is human nature. Architecture is the connection between human being and the environment. It is not only physical, but also mental.
There were several other interview questions. However, we extracted core questions for this article. The Postech Times sincerely thanks Professor Zhang for giving his precious time for the interview.