2023 IRACDC Awards Ceremony Forum─The challenges of architecture in the post-pandemic environment.
Event message

Time: March 19, 2023
Venue: The Mayor’s Residence Art Salon
Rem Koolhaas/OMA Founding Partner
David Gianotten/OMA Managing Partner–Architect
Lee, Shwu-Ting/Feng Chia University Vice-President、Dean School of Architecture
First Prize: Duan, Ai-Xin、Geng, Rui-Jia、 Chen, Li-Ying
Second Prize: Алиса Романова
Third Prize: Chi, Ko-Yu
Host: Wang, Chin-Kun/traaa Secretary General
Translate: Su, Kun-Feng

Live Record of Awards Ceremony

What is the reason judges give the article of The Multifunctional Sustainable and Healthy Home? And what challenges do you observe to residence after the pandemic?

Rem:Basically our intention is not only to talk about the effect of Covid on architecture but the all aware part of Covid  huge number of new issues architecture has to deal with. The issue of climate change, issue of sustainability, issue of familyism and whole serious of other issues. But I find interesting about the situation architecture is actually for the first time in maybe a century changing because the pressure from the outside. It is the simply the case of completely new demand of architecture. And it is the way very urgent it is kind of political issue also kind of the first time. And I think it is the side of effect but important effect that we do it with distance participants like students because you are dealing with the issues also we are dealing with the issues. And the issues are new for you also are new for us. It is kind of new democracy of architecture in a certain way because we are all struggling with the same questions. We are all disadvantage in situations of same questions. But we also have opportunities to refresh our architecture and invent new architecture.  It has been happened a very long time so the context I do with this competition.

David:The only thing that I would like to say is what kind of changes you see based on the pandemic. I think what is interesting is that maybe acceleration of change possibility already on its way. And people are more conscious these items cannot be developed slowly but really needs to be a radical difference nowadays. That is not related to potential for next pandemic but simply related to realize that nature is stronger than our city and stronger than us more and more. And that also means that dealing with nature is not keeping it outside of the cities but actually also welcome it in and make it to be part of our direct environment. Not in a manicure way only but also really in a rough sense through micro force or through the possibility pf production gardens. And which something is new relationship.

And we see actually is all parts of the world that is really response everybody gets in the similar way. For the rest experiences of pandemic was very different all around the world. And it is still different all around the world. So that is also kind of very clear the idea or one solution for all. It is not possible. The difference in climate the difference of culture and also the difference of in the way people deal with it or maybe afraid of it. It is very very different and therefore require it from urban and also response to the country side which has become more pressing again. Because people are moving from the city back to it for the same reason. And I think that something we would like to share the context. It is actually very very important in this situation. So I think architecture is not thinking about one solution that can be role out and then we have solved it. Now it is really about engaging something and engaging with the area engaging with the thought. And then developing to gather a solution that works at that spot works for that moment instead of thinking as we now we need to do everything differently and needed to do in one way because will not give the right effect.

WangWe just mentioned about locality. We know that Vice President lee had worked with the Banmu Architects a few years ago to publish a book on seasonal architecture. Can we discuss how our local team faced this challenge during the pandemic?

Lee:Although this design topic is related to the pandemic, we have been working with Banmu Architects for over ten years to discuss the health issues. At that time, we were already thinking about what qualities a good building should have if we were able to build one today. Of course, health is definitely one of them, and environmental cooperation is also one of them. Ten years ago, we have proposed what kind of building could respond to this society. All the way, we have implemented many mechanisms, and even the software currently used was launched ten years ago. What is the way to minimize the environmental fburden? Can we describe it through passive house design in architecture to achieve this goal? How can we achieve the best balance between the building and the environment as the most natural way? I learned an important classic through collaboration with Banmu which I would like to share again- What is the role of architecture? Architecture is just a thin layer of skin. Its expression responds to the needs of living inside and the natural environment. Therefore, life is contained inside, while the outside respects nature. Architecture should follow this spirit in order to achieve the best building. So, besides the concern from society and nature for the passive architecture, we try to use more natural methods in the thin layer of skin. For example, in Taiwan, people like to use tiles, but we found that the carbon footprint of tiles is very high after our research. Therefore, Banmu has not used tiles in its buildings in recent years. If you're interested, you can check what alternatives to tiles are used in Taiwan. I won't give you the answer yet because in this way everyone can do some researches. About a more eco-friendly way is to use recycled materials such as a large amount of oyster shells. Oyster farming produces a lot of waste oyster shells which can be used as building materials. How to use oyster shells and cement to make floor tiles and how to create better temperature and humidity through microclimate airflow for a healthier living environment. Lock down will not be a better solution but giving a more natural way to bring a healthier architecture. Ideas like this are constantly improving and evolving through collaboration. So if you have the opportunity, go to look at their architecture, and check out a series of books on this type of architecture published by archi-tec. I think the details inside when talking about a good architecture which should constantly improve and evolve through continuous dialogue and requirements instead of a solution. I think when you have a good attitude to face it the attitude and solution will emerge with different solutions and answers over time.

Lee, Shwu-Ting/photo: ta-Wu

WangWhat kind of challenges did the three first-prize winners observe for contemporary residential architecture in China?

GengWe start from the city then consider how to bring rural lifestyles into the city. Our starting point is that we saw the real change should come from the bottom up in the competition topic. We have the feeling from this point. Because we are in Chongqing, China, we often see the mix situation of developed high-rise buildings and old city areas, which creates a strong impact. In Chongqing, there are many migrant workers from rural areas who provide the labor foundation for the city, but they always live in the peripheral areas of the city. I think this contradiction arises from the fact that the city should bring a better life to people. Therefore, our proposal is rooted in China's neglect of migrant workers in cities, and the pandemic has highlighted this issue significantly. And we discover an interesting phenomenon from observing people's lives during the pandemic that there has been a kind of retrogression in urban living. We see that people are spending more time at home, trying to minimize contact with the outside worldf. Some people even grow their own vegetables at home and cook their own meals instead of ordering takeout. This personal production behavior has emerged because it will not take impact of the pendamic. The service industry in cities has returned to a lifestyle similar to that of the mass industrial production era. This living pattern also reminded us of the self-sufficient lifestyle in rural areas, which connects to the issue of how to change our living patterns from the bottom up. We believe that the pandemic is not a problem, but perhaps an opportunity that allows us to see the drawbacks of the lifestyle and space behind global urbanization. So it is possible to utilize the spontaneous power of the rural areas to bring opportunities, and perhaps the rural areas themselves contain a subversive potential that can contribute to the future of urban life. This may also lead to some new ideas.

WangThe design of winning entry is particularly cohesive, and the windows on the exterior are relatively small, which is quite different from the design of buildings in tropical countries like ours. How has Russia responded to the challenges of housing and the pandemic?

АлисаIt is not serious. It was serious about in 2020 year but now it is ok. We have done with masks. We forget about some distances and I think it is a .. not go to the way but we need to teach of our mistakes to use our information for improving the situation to for improving to the house living. And to use the information or creation the residential houses with micro climate inside.

DavidWe are thinking that the development in your city is changing over the last three years because of the climate issues or because of the pandemic or the way people wat to live together upon the younger generation probably has different demands. The people establish the city. Do you see chang and do your provoke change?

David Gianotten/photo: OS Studio-Neo

АлисаWe have unique system of development. The whole of our cities on their hands and then you cannot build something without their approve.  And after pandemic we a little bit change. We open our eyes to some of rules. And they are trying to some pandemic ideas to improve buildings. And it is not .. I think we go faster but in the next years I think they can improve. Maybe Moscow gets more money than my cities to build something but I think this situation is the whole Russia. We have strange kind of distance and our architects it is difficult for our architects to say something to developers. And they need to speak a lot to have discussions to hear each other and to try to change the life of the people.

Chi:Taiwan's terrain is relatively narrow with large population, so the amount of construction cannot develop horizontally. It may need to be vertical, but vertical design may have some obstacles, and may not have as much inclusiveness for all people in Taiwan. My question is, what kind of architecture can be more inclusive? Is it like a folded city?

RemI think if you look tecnically and being an English professor who has calculated all the models. You can easily accommodate the same among of people and same among of activities in low buildings and in high buildings. And in so some examples vertical buildings are official and are never really necessary. But in our current system I think they require less control and less oversize than larger and bigger urban operations. So I would say it is almost the kind of obsession of ..the economic obsession to suit responsible for the kind of vertical city and not any order necessity. I think I have written the totally unsuccessful book 《Kill the skyscraper》. And I knew it is not successful but I think it is enough actually kind of arguing against skyscraper. And make it a same situation that is never a need for a vertical architecture. Except maybe for profit and I think we could make some progress.

DavidAnd to support what Rem said we are coming from islands which is a very tiny country with 19 million people by now. But vertical building is almost absent. And the west part of the country is one of the most dense places in the world. People simply live in the visual low houses. So I think it is the possibility of seeing different models as been raised by the market thinking. And by the way especially also the contract thinking, because the way of building industry needs to keep on going. And they want to repeat and repeat and repeat rather than individual influence. And I think if we are able to crack that model and then the vertical building is not necessary the model any more. You can with the same economic and the same density. Also kind of really reach out to nature and give nature for our place. For example in Amsterdam project I show you also we try to really break the verticality into pieces that each has their own role place. And I think the think in that direction we increase when the market thinking less influence. Now after the pandemic it is like intention of economics. You see the people are open to rethink models and also use the opportunity to think of how we can be out of the singular way we think. So we architects as a planner, students and professors really need to kind of use the moment and also simply recreate the develop of new models. That can be simply than be implemented.

Rem I want to make another point. I think recently the growth in Asia becomes much more intense than anywhere else. And so we are interested in organizing the competition here. But if look at the demographics China lose considerable part of its population so it would be much less pressure to always go like that.  And I think for large part of Asia the demographics indicating will be eventually more relaxed situation. And the pressure is going to be in the Middle East and in Africa they are continuing to grow and that is why that is also important to influence the case. Africa try to support kind of system there everyone has to live in the city.

Geng:Because in this competition, we focused on the migrant workers in Chongqing and extended our focus to the macro relationship between rural and urban in China.

A large part of designs of us only stays at the conceptual level, but in reality, we should consider how the rural living can enter the city or how the rural living model can be provided to the city. What was presented in the competition is still a high-rise building model, but that is not our original intention. I would like to ask what kind of rural living model should be? What are the possibilities of integrating it into the city? Can it bring not only new possibilities but also a new main model with rural life?

RemThe answer is too long and the answer is here not formulated. It is kind of something we all can work on in different ways and in different levels. And I think that maybe the question become important in five years, because I think in five years there would be better answers. And I think also we should not panic. I think it is a very urgent time for many critical issues. But I think we should meet we cannot solve them all at this moment. And for certain issues we also have to wait we have kind of meditation you know what would really be the best way.

Rem Koolhaas/photo: OS Studio-Neo