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Symposium at Columbia

Dec 23rd, 2017

On November 17, 15 firms selected out of over 150 practices established within the past 10 years gathered at “Constructing Practice,” a daylong symposium at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation(GSAPP). Principal James Shen represented People’s Architecture Office(PAO) in conversation with Professor Eric Bunge(nArchitects) and Juan Herreros(Juan Herreros Arquitectos), as well as representatives from Ramos Castellano Architectis(Cape Verde) and Local Studio(South Africa). 

The panel’s theme—“From Material Culture to Design”—closely reflects PAO’s socially-minded mission, which often pulls inspiration from the informal design present in China. All three of the firms present on the panel incorporate formal and material elements from their local cultures in order to impact the social lives of local residents.

During the talk, James Shen emphasized that the firm draws inspiration from the creative ways that the local population live and work. He begun by introducing the tricycle house, a work inspired by the many multifunctional tricycles present on the streets of Beijing. The tricycle house was created during the early days of the firm, when money and connections were scarce. In an encouraging note to the many young architecture students present in the office, Shen remarked that limitations can encourage architects to approach a problem in a more creative way.

Other participants and attendees at the conference included Enrique Walker (Director of the Advanced Architectural Design program at Columbia GSAPP), Amale Andraos (Dean of Columbia GSAPP), and Kenneth Frampton (Columbia GSAPP Ware Professor of Architecture).