Character building

Updated: 2013-07-25 01:00

By Sun Yuanqing (China Daily)

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Character building

Liyuan Library in Huairou district of Beijing [Photo by Cui Meng/China Daily]

With Chinese developers chasing after foreign architects and the skylines of Chinese cities dominated by skyscrapers, Liyuan Library, despite its modest volume, offers a refreshing Chinese perspective. By using local material to address local issues, the project also managed to identify and enhance the essence of the community it serves.

"We are not going to follow what the West has been through, because the problems we face are different. And when you find the right answer to your own problem, you get your own style," says multi-award winning architect Li Xiaodong.

To be a center of ideas rather than a periphery that always follows the center, people have to start "to think independently, to identify the problems of the locale and find the appropriate solutions", Li says.

Addressing local issues has been a consistent theme in Li's designs. One of his best-known works is the Bridge School in Fujian province, which won the 2010 Aga Khan Award. Inspired by Chinese traditional acupuncture's meridian theory, the work rejuvenated a divided community by bridging the physical gap between them and encouraging greater interaction.

Li studied architecture at Tsinghua University before acquiring his PhD from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

He then went to Singapore to teach at the Department of Architecture at the National University of Singapore. 

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