▲ 维思平（WSP）建筑设计事务所创始合伙人、主设计师 Knud Rossen
Archcy: WSP has completed several large-scale headquarter projects in recent years. What made these huge Internet companies choose and trust you?
▲ 维思平（WSP）建筑设计 办公室
KR：Of course, you start your way up from small to bigger companies. With growing experiences of working on headquarter projects, we gained the trust of bigger companies. Also, getting these projects are sometimes the results of participating in competitions. Besides, we have done similar projects before in Germany. The process of how to approach the specific requirements on headquarter buildings has certain methodology behind that, which you can apply in different companies. The beginning always is analysis of the structure of the company, of how the people work, how they want to be seen by themselves, by their staff, by the outside. These will all be summarized in the new building. Also, due to our process of approaching design tasks, we convince the clients that we have understood their requirements. Or even better, we can surprise the client with solutions that he had not even thought about. That is the best that an architect can do.
Architecture, landscape and urban design are totally belonging together. We aim at delivering an integrated design, which comes from our classic understanding of the role of the architect. It ought to achieve an organism building which works and functions as a life. To that end, you have to be part of the developing the birth of the building as much as from the beginning to the end. What I always like to do is to revisit a building a few years later to see what people have done with it. The most enjoyable moment is when you see that they have understood what we wanted to achieve.
Archcy: Can you summarize your design philosophy and name the projects with timeless value?
其中一个项目是南京长发中心, 由两栋高150 米的办公姊妹双塔，以及南侧两栋135 米高的塔式公寓所组成。我们在2003年做了方案设计，并和业主建立了良好的合作关系。建筑师需要做的绝非仅仅是项目设计，更要和业主沟通，相互激发灵感。
KR：Our design is not about a style. People from outside might think that this is probably a WSP building. It is not necessarily because of a style that been applied, but a certain logic. We are simple thinking people. During the 20 years since WSP was established, some remarkable projects are linked with exciting memories.
Nanjing Changfa Center (CFC) is one of those projects, two twin towers with residential buildings behind. It was around 2003, when we did the design and had wonderful relation to our client. It is not just architects doing a project, but we also have to communicate with the client, inspiring each other.
Among the big projects I like, there is Shenzhen Gemdale Meilong Town. It resolved two problems, in which one is that its scale is more than one million square meters, amounting to the scale of a small city, a walkable city. Although with high density, it offers everyone with open spaces, green spaces, shopping facilities and no cars above ground, offering underground car parks with daylight. Besides this urban aspect, even though it was a massive project, we developed the details for the building, which allowed to be executed with good quality, but simple enough to allow that in the big amount, in such a short time. This was one of the examples of mass production of buildings.
Archcy: The types of your projects are diversified and varied, including Xiuning Shuanglong Primary School in Anhui and residential buildings in suburban area of Beijing. Is there a standard to take over projects?
KR: Architecture can be even best when it works with limited resources and possibilities. On the contrary, when you have endless possibilities, you often end up with the most horrible architecture. If you look at simple architecture without architects in the countryside of locals, limited to just bricks, rocks, timber beams, tiles or even leaves. This always results in good architecture with good proportion and logical decisions.
Archcy: What is your view of building quality management?
KR：People sometimes are not aware that besides the money on constructing one building, it costs more during the life cycle in sustaining the building. You need clear program, how you do the maintenance, get and spend the money every year to maintain the existing quality, upgrade to more modern technologies over a life cycle of buildings.
In many cases in China, when a project is being built, everyone responsible just disappears, resulting that the building looks like 10 years old after merely one year. This is not about the original quality of one building, but no one cares about the building. So, you need management system for each building, also particular ownership of projects. There might be two reasons, one is that there are so many building projects in China. When projects are finished, people can't think back. Instead, they always think forward, shifting to the next project. The construction payment is another issue. In Europe, builders don't get all the money when a project is finished. 5% to 6% of the money is held back for maybe 5 years. After those 5 years, if the project quality is OK, the balance payment will be wired.
Generally speaking, the whole process of building project delivery in Germany does not take shorter or longer than in China. The construction is more or less the same time. Only the difference is that in Europe we use pre-fabricated elements in constructing buildings. Thus, it could even be faster occasionally. In achieving planning permission, an ordinary project might take 3 to 6 months; for zoning plan, it surely takes longer.
Archcy: 2019 marks the centenary of Bauhaus school. How do you understand its influence on modern architecture?
KR：Bauhaus made a huge contribution to modern architecture. Architecture before and after Bauhaus era showed great contrast. The minimalist appearance of Bauhaus architecture was the result of reaction to the over-decorated buildings in the previous era. Bauhaus and modern architecture did not deny decoration on buildings. Instead, it made statement of being different to the past. In the Bauhaus, architecture was not the way considered to be the crown of all the forms of design or creation. There was the concept of bringing all the things together, including the way architecture is being used, by living in it, by dancing in it, by making use etc.
Archcy: What are the challenges of urbanism in China? How to achieve livable urban environment?
KR：We should not have too many visions of ideal solutions. Instead, we should start in a realistic level and rectify, prove certain things as much as possible. The most important thing is to tackle the size of the city, to organize the transportation system in a better way, which allows people to have better choice of transportation, rather than being in a traffic jam. There must be a safe, fast, clean, reliable public transportation system.
I know the joke that the Chinese going to cars while Europeans going back to bicycles. Bicycles can be a very important element in the individual transportation within cities. There is a battle of debating why cars get so much spaces in Europe, that people are demanding more spaces for bicycles. But unfortunately, it is very hard for a man living in Daxing to go to Wangjing by bicycle as Beijing is so big. The key is to create attractive alternatives of transportation.
Archcy: What are your current works? How do you predict the future market of architecture design?
KR：I am now doing real estate and architecture in Germany. Most are existing residential buildings from 19th century, which are to be upgraded to modern standards, slightly extended if possible. My current project is a housing development in Berlin. Another is an upgrading residential project from 19th century in Leipzig.
My favorite activity is factories because when you're doing factories, you need to understand what they do, how the production work flow is, building relation with technical people. I like analyzing that, finding better solutions.
Economy is always going up and down. A lot of buildings around us have been built quickly in the last 20 years or so. The spaces around them seem unfinished. If we zoom into small areas of Beijing, there are so many works that still needs to be done. But on a smaller scale, people cannot draw an amazing high-rise building. To zoom in is the works of the next 10 generations.
In reality, holiday homes are probably a future market. It is already happening in cities and are moving to the countryside. Another market might be useless shopping centers. Enabling the under used buildings to be used in a better way is an urban task.
Archcy: How do you become an architect? What is the foremost question you’d ask an architect candidate?
KR：I've never had the vision of becoming an architect as a child, even though I was always playing around, digging holes, building houses in trees.
One important question is always that "why have youstudied architecture?" People would probably say that “I studied itbecause my father is an architect”. And “what have you done to be an architect?”;“Have you traveled and visited architecture?”
I've always thought that an architect intern should have been worked on a construction site. It is an important experience and European architects more often do that. Because they can see the details that they've drawn, how they built this. If more architects have worked in construction site, some of the details would be better perhaps.