Swan Lake Bridge House and Viewing Tower, Rongcheng, province du Shandong © Zhao Yilong
Swan Lake Bridge House and Viewing Tower, Rongcheng, Shandong Province © Zhao Yilong


Form follows soul

Founded in Beijing in 2009 by architect Hua Li, Trace Architecture Office (TAO ) designs buildings as ‘living organisms’ connected to their environment, instead of using any formal approach. One of TAO ’s latest achievements, the Swan Lake Bridge House and Viewing Tower houses a restaurant and an observation tower in a wetland located in Rongcheng (Shandong Province, near the Yellow Sea) crossed each year by migrating swans.

L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui: China is undergoing unprecedented urbanisation. In this context, how do you stand as an architect?

Hua Li: I stand independent, and critical as an architect. The only important thing for me is to search for origin and poetry in my architecture. Although in China we are dealing with a different speed and scale, I think the essential task for an architect is not very different from other countries and other times. To defend individual freedom as an architect is a must no matter how difficult that is, because architecture as an artistic creation must be an expression of the individual character of the artist, just like Chinese calligraphy.

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This article was originally published in AA’s 431th issue – China’s committed architects – released in June 2019, available on our online shop.

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