Exhibition Review of 'The Architect’s Studio: Wang Shu’
The first in a series of six monographic exhibitions focusing on socially conscious architects practicing today, The Architect’s Studio: Wang Shu examines the work of China’s only Pritzker Prize–winner. Wang, with Lu Wenyu, his wife and partner, runs Amateur Architecture Studio in Hangzhou, working to fuse modernism with vernacular building and traditional Chinese attitudes toward landscape and culture. The partners have been outspoken in decrying the negative impact of China’s rapid urbanization, including the destruction of entire neighborhoods and the degradation of the environment. The next three architects in the series will be Alejandro Aravena and ELEMENTAL Studio in 2018, Tatiana Bilbao in 2019, and Anupama Kundoo in 2020. An earlier incarnation of the series looked at more established architects, including Frank Gehry in 1998, Henning Larsen in 1999, Norman Foster in 1999, Renzo Piano in 2003, and Jean Nouvel in 2005.
“The aim of the exhibition series is to focus on political and social criticism as seen from an architec- tural point of view,” says Kjeld Kjeldsen, the curator of the current show. “Wang Shu was selected for his dedication to critical architecture [and for pioneering] a new definition of the role of the architect.”
Designed by Kjeldsen and Brian Lottenburger in cooperation with Amateur Architecture Studio, the exhibition presents an introduction to Wang and Lu’s inspirations from traditional Chinese culture and philosophy, using images of old buildings and places, as well as quotes from the architects. It also includes an abbreviated and reconfigured version of their installation At The Parallel Scene from the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, which extolled the value of rural China as a repository of culture and craft, and shows drawings, photos, and models of five of their most prominent projects—the Ningbo History Museum, the Xiangshan Campus of the China Academy of Art, the Wa Shan Guesthouse, the renovation of Wencun village, and the Fuyang Cultural Complex.
The exhibition The Architect’s Studio: Wang Shu will run through April 30 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark.