Xiaoquan Elementary School
Founded by Mr. Hua Li in 2009, TAO (TRACE ARCHITECTURE OFFICE) is a Beijing based design studio committed to architecture, urban, and landscape design. Being critical at contemporary architecture as an obsession to fashionable forms in the context of media driven globalized consumerism, TAO visions architecture and its environment as an inseparable whole and architecture is always a part of its surroundings rather than an isolated object. With most projects positioned in particular cultural and natural settings in China, TAO aims to make architecture deeply rooted in its social and environmental context with respect of local condition. The sense of place, response to climate, efficient use of local resource, appropriate material and construction method, such essential issues are always explored in every TAO project responding to its specific situation.
TAO has focused on institutional and cultural projects such as museum, schools, hospital buildings etc. They have realized several award wining projects such as Museum of Handcraft Paper in Yunnan and XiaoQuan Elementary School in Sichuan. Their works have been recognized and published widely both in China and internationally. TAO has won several important architectural awards including shortlisted in Aga Kahn Award 2013, Architectural Record Good Design is Good Business Award, Chinese Architecture Media Award and WA Award. TAO has been chosen into Design Vanguard 2012 by Architectural Record Magazine in New York. Their works have been exhibited in China, Europe and MoMA New York.
Space is a memory, discovery and inspiration. It is definitely not just a rational term defining functions. Space is perhaps most powerful aspect in architecture which can challenge our unconsciousness to our existence condition. Inspiring space can ask us questions: where you are? How you want to exist? So to create spaces which can provoke our curiosity and doubts is the most profound mission for architecture.
The construction is the essential means of realizing architecture. Thus, architecture is not just abstract but physical and material. The tectonics should obey an order following laws of nature, instead of arbitrariness relying on technologies. In this, there are three things important: 1. Authenticity----a quality which resists the dislocation of meaning. It reveals the essence of things; 2. Clarity----a desire of expression of true logic in structural and material although it may not be completely achieved visually; 3. Here and now—--a respect to “gravity” of our existence in sense of place and time. Architecture belongs to specific site and context in both environmental and cultural sense, we should work with limits and discover the solution with a creative mind.
Beauty is not dead. Also “beauty can not be created overnight” (Kahn). Beauty is always there, waiting to be discovered by man, only the way of seeing beauty is transforming constantly. This is a belief in feelings, rather than thoughts. If thoughts are the shadows of our feelings — always darker, emptier, simpler (Nietzsche), then we should really be suspicious to the abusing power of any concepts in name of intellect. Beauty thus exists in silence.
Doing architecture, we are anticipating the future, but with our memory. Architecture is a dramatic meeting between past and future, while has to be realized by present means. Thus Architecture belongs to a time, but it can also go beyond its time. Architecture without style, without appearance, without metaphor, will last and present itself in spirit.