Interview with Xinyu Li, LICC Winner in BUILD (Architecture) in the Non-Professional category, discusses his sources of inspiration and the influences China and France had on him while he studied architectural design.
Tell us a little about your background. How did your love of architecture grow?
My first undergraduate degree was in design, then I carried out an undergraduate degree in France in the field of architecture and then a master’s degree in architecture. I love architecture because the thought process of architecture makes me think that there are so many possibilities in this society beyond the definitive words. No one really questions a work, or at least no one vetoes it. At least it made me feel that although imperfection is the human norm, it is valuable to always want to improve it.
What merits do you see in being Winner in Build (architecture)? What does receiving this award personally mean to you?
I believe that being the Winner in Build (architecture) can bring multiple benefits. First of all, winning an award is also a kind of recognition and acknowledgement for me, which can enhance my self-confidence and sense of achievement. Also, winning awards can showcase my work and ideas to the public, increase my prestige and visibility, and bring more opportunities and projects to me in the future.
What steps do you take in the creative process, and what tools do you use?
I use various ways to get inspiration in my creative process. I personally think the best way to get inspiration is to look at a variety of design examples. I often have nothing to do but look at different architectural projects and understand the architects’ ideas and thoughts. I usually use Revit and Rhino, which are two software programs that are often used in the architectural field.
Where do you find your inspiration and motivation for your work?
Usually, I find inspiration and motivation from various sources such as natural landscapes, artworks, different cultures, traveling to different countries, and learning about relevant history. Also, I find inspiration from other disciplines, such as sociology and geography. In addition, collaborating with other professionals and learning from their expertise can inspire me with new ideas and perspectives.
What design endeavor would you most like to pursue?
For now, I would not specifically limit myself to specializing in a certain type or in a certain region of the world. I would probably prefer to work on more diverse projects, such as multi-purpose facilities, and in unusual locations, to challenge different situations and explore my creativity.
What impact do you believe your own culture and environment have had on your creative vision both personally and professionally?
Since I received my architectural design education in China and France, I was influenced by both cultures. The different cultures of East and West come into contact and blend with each other in my designs, and I can see both Western design thinking and Eastern culture. At the same time, the city I live in, Paris, hosts large-scale art exhibitions and so on every year, and there are many world-renowned designers among them. These contacts gave me more opportunities to understand the various working methods and concepts of architectural design.
Best in BUILD (Non-Professional): “Vertical City” by Xinyu LI
Tell us about a project that you feel has been your most successful achievement.
I once did a project for a multifunctional community. I wanted to create a space that integrates creation and living. According to the survey, modern big cities have a greater sense of distance between people due to the huge scale of urban space. So, I want to create a small scale and warm social space through architectural design to bring people back closer to each other.
Which photographers and designers in your industry do you most admire, and why?
As an architect, I am very fond of Kengo Kuma. His design philosophy and design skills are dynamic. His architectural design works are diversified in terms of building facades, spatial ambiance and installation designs. The originality of the materials he uses is reflected in how the materials used in the building reflect the connection and heritage of modernity and tradition. His design works pay attention to details and create a unique interior spatial atmosphere from multiple perspectives such as selection and use of materials, often creating an experience of Oriental Zen culture. His works make me feel that he fully integrates architecture with nature, and this is what I learn the most from.
How do you think design has changed over time, and how do you envision it changing moving forward?
At the moment I think that the interesting argument is more important than the aesthetic one. In my opinion it is not that difficult to make an architecture that is aesthetically pleasing, or that is recognized by many people. But it is more attractive to design an interesting soul, leaving aside the appearance. The building itself, including every part of it, should have its own meaning. There are many buildings that were not recognized at the beginning, but are still written into history, which are often the worthiest of my consideration.
What do you believe to be the current significant possibilities and problems in your field?
Design is at the front end of the entire architectural chain and is supposed to play a leading role, but in reality, the role played by architects in actual projects is often overlooked. In many projects, it is not the architect but the client and the local government who actually decide the content and appearance of the project. But because of this complex role, architects do not only design, but also play a role of communication and coordination with all parties.
What are you working on right now, if you could give us a sneak peek?
I am currently working on an eco-restaurant, a public space that blends with and complements nature and the local environment.
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