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The Figure

Tao Zhang

张韬

Principal at Sasaki

Ecologist at Sasaki

Licensed Professional Landscape Architect

LEED AP ND

SASAKI董事

SASAKI景观建筑生态师

美国注册景观建筑师

LEED AP ND

The Interview

” I’m pretty idealistic, but I’m not naive.”

“It’s an art to be engaged at the same time… have a standard or have a choice. “

“我虽然是一个理想主义者,但我不幼稚。

“如何参与项目是一门艺术,同时也有标准和选择性方面的考量。

It’s great honor for us to have you here to participate in our interview. Could you please briefly introduce yourself to the GARLIC audience?

很荣幸您能接受我们的专访。能否请您简短地向GARLIC的读者介绍一下自己?

Sure. Well, my name is Tao Zhang, as you can tell from my name, you know, I’m Chinese. I’m a landscape architect ecologist at SASAKI. I’m part of the international practice at SASAKI and I also perform with a few other principals. Personally, mainly in China in the recent years in the domestic project and some projects in other Asian countries and even European countries as well. It’s interesting that how I stumbled into the field of landscape architecture.

I came from sort of the none traditional background, so I was in a hard science field. I was studying biology nature resources in my undergraduate study and then I studied landscape ecology. And then I was pursuing ecosystem ecology in the Ph.D. program when I discovered this field. So, before that time I had no idea landscape architecture was that thing, so you can both be scientific and at the same time be artistic. Then I was drawn to it right away so that was how I came to do this profession. And then I was really lucky to find the opportunity to start my professional career at SASAKI and I had tremendous growth opportunities learning opportunities in those interacting learning from different colleagues. So here I am today.

当然。我叫张韬,可以从名字看出, 我是一名中国人。我是一名就职于SASAKI的景观生态设计师, 是SASAKI 的国际实践部门的成员,也同时与其他几位项目主管进行合作。近年来我个人主要负责中国国国内项目,在亚洲其他国家和欧洲国家也有涉足。有趣的是,我和风景园林学科的渊源非常曲折。我来自非景观专业背景, 本来是硬科学(自然科学)领域。在大学,我学习了生物自然资源学,之后是景观生态学。在博士阶段, 当我学习生态系统生态学时,我才了解到这个学科的存在。所以在此之前,我对风景园林是没有概念的。正因如此,我在思维方式上既注重科学性,也追求艺术化。从那以后我全身心投入其中,这就是我如何开始从事这个行业的经过。后来,我很荣幸有机会在SASAKI开始我的职业生涯,在交流的过程中得到了许多学习成长的机会,这样才有了今天的我。

okay, let’s began our conversation. So you just mentioned you have a background in ecology and landscape and you are very interested in environment. So when you are addressing the relationship between the urban development and environment sensitivity behind a project such as forest city and Zhangjiabang Park, and Chongming Island, so what are the most difficult part you have faced during the design process?

好的。让我们开始我们的对话。您刚才提到你有生态学、景观方面的背景,并且对环境颇感兴趣,所以当你将项目背后城市发展和环境敏感性联系起来,比如森林城市和张家浜楔形绿地规划以及崇明岛总体规划,在设计过程中你遇到的最大难题是什么?

We faced challenges almost all the times whether it is before the design, during the design, and even after the design. To me, personally, the fundamental challenges are, actually, before we get involved. Often, you know, I tend to be critical what type of the project we should be involved, and how to be involved. I’m pretty idealistic, but I’m not naive.

It’s an art to be engaged at the same time… have a standard or have a choice. For example, for Zhangjiabang Park and Chongming Island, Zhangjiabang Park was a lot easier because it’s a land bank dedicated for public ground, for public open space, so I was full-hearted embracing it.  For Chongming Island it’s tricky. As I have written an article about that, it’s a dilemma for the profession. You are given the opportunity, you see you can make a difference, but the premise of the project was debatable. For example, Chongming island, it is supposed to be a preserved area that belongs to Shanghai government…it’s very interesting, very complex. A fluvial island keeps growing over the years. It has been expanded beyond the boundary that belongs to Shanghai.  So, the addition of the island, even though it was part of the island, belonging to another province that is controlling the other side of the Yangtze river, so the local government decided to develop this land. Again, as I said, it’s debatable whether it is appropriate to develop and then the question is how to develop. So that was the biggest challenge to lead the landscape design for that project. And even today, every day in my life, I still question myself some of the projects there isn’t an easy answer, it’s never a yes or no. We all know that we are designers, we are not developers and not policy makers. Often the decisions are given to us and it really depends on us how to react, how to approach it. So, that was the biggest challenge for that project. And I did believe that we made a really positive impact, positive changes, but even today, it’s still a conundrum. Often, I feel frustrated as a designer about the type of the projects that we are doing and we have done. It’s always an ongoing lesson and a dialogue that is worth exploring more.

几乎每时每刻我们都在面临挑战,无论是在设计前,设计过程中还是设计完成后。对我个人而言最大的挑战在于我们介入项目之前。我总是会思考什么类型的项目我们可以介入?并且如何介入?我虽然是一个理想主义者,但我不幼稚。如何参与项目是一门艺术,同时也有标准和选择性方面的考量。例如张家浜楔形绿地规划和崇明岛总体规划。张家浜绿地规划要容易得多,因为它的用地性质是公共绿地,计划打造成公共开放空间,所以我能够全心投入其中。崇明岛规划则是一个难题。正如我撰写的一篇文章所说, 崇明岛正面临进退两难的困境。你面临机遇,你能够做出改变,但项目的前提条件本身就颇有争议。比方说崇明岛原本是属于上海市的保护区,既有趣有复杂的是,由于它是河流堆积作用形成的岛屿,随着时间推移岛屿的边界早已越过上海市域。因此,尽管这些附属部分属于崇明岛,却属于控制着长江另一侧的其他省份,当地政府决定开发这片土地. 正如我刚才提到的问题,这片区域是否合适开发?如何开发?这是该项目中最大的挑战,直到现在我还在自问。对于有些项目来说,没有固定的答案。我们不是开发商,也不是政策制定者,我们是设计师。通常情况下已经有人替我们做了决定,而项目成败全看我们如何应对,如何解决。这是做这个项目最大的挑战。我相信我们的努力确实产生了积极的影响和改变,但直到今天,这仍然是一个谜。作为一个设计师,我会对我们在做的项目或已完成的项目类型感到沮丧。这将一直是一个正在学习中的议题,值得被进一步地去探究。

Zhangjiabang Park, Shanghai, China | © www.sasaki.com

” It’s a large-scale land, and as a designer you don’t have any stake in the city, you don’t have any actual support. But with your almost idealistic argument or reasoning, the client could be listening to us. So, I feel the profession or the designers are sometimes opportune voice for ourselves and also for the general public good.”

“在如此大尺度的项目中,虽然景观设计师在在城市中并没有资金资本,也没有真正的后盾支持,但是通过你理想化的论证和说理,甲方会倾听我们的意见。所以我觉得设计师这个行业是在代表我们自己,代表大众的权益发声。

Awesome. I’m very curious of this kind of projects, so what’s your position as a designer in the process to negotiate with different stakeholders? Like with communities, with decision makers, and developers?

您说的非常好。我很好奇在这类项目进程中,您作为一个设计师是如何与不同的参与方,例如社区、政策制定者和开发商进行协商谈判的?

It does relate to what I’ve just said.  Xingcun Sha or Chongming Island project can be a really good example.

Even though it was difficult at the beginning, but we did try our best to make a positive impact. For example, in the given control plan there were four approved golf courses by the local government and the developer, so that’s where you start to negotiate. So as a designer I often think myself almost like an educator, at a very humble level that you try to communicate what you know what you think is more appropriate, at the same time realistic, to the client, to the public, to the government, to the decision maker assuming they do not have the design background.   So, for that project, we quickly tested the different idea of thinking. Just purely from the development point of view, to have four golf courses in one project was not optimal. And we tested different ideas without being asked for… we really spend some extra time looking at the alternative scenarios. For example, if the last…of course, it’s really not suitable for golf courses development, it’s all basically wetland, can we preserve it as a wetland, as another type of amenity that is complementary to golf courses, complementary to the type of development, instead of that you have internal competition among those land uses. And another golf course was envisioned as a public park, so the recreation public park and a wetland park in addition to the first two golf courses that have been under construction at that time. So, we convinced the client at first, the developer. They bought the idea, “Oh, that makes sense, we don’t need four of them.” So, that was the first step: the developer and us went together to the local government, to the mayor to present them with the same argument, So you lay out your reasons and you try to think from their perspective instead just saying that, okay, we are landscape architects, we are environmentalists, what you are doing is wrong, that’s not the best way to negotiate: negotiation is not argument.

Try to be reasonable. And the mayor followed the developer. They agreed that four courses were not their best interest and they followed our recommendation. so, that was a very convinced experience to me. I feel that it’s a large-scale land, and as a designer, you don’t have any stake in the city, you don’t have any actual support. But with your almost idealistic argument or reasoning, the client could be listening to us. So, I feel the profession or the designers are sometimes opportune voice for ourselves and also for the general public good.

这和我刚才所说的关系密切。新村沙,或者说崇明岛规划项目是一个很好的例子。尽管在最初阶段困难重重,但我们尽了最大的努力去发挥正面的影响。例如在控制性总体规划中,政府和开发商决定在这里建成四个高尔夫球场,这是我们协商的切入点。作为一个设计师,我常常把自己作为一个教育者的身份。对于甲方、公众、政府或开发商这些没有专业背景的人,你以一种谦逊同时实际的态度去告诉他们你认为恰当的做法。于是在该项目中,我们迅速交换了看法。就开发商的角度来说,在一个项目中建四个高尔夫球场并不是最理想的。所以我们又额外花时间寻找替代方案,评估了多种方案的可能性。这些场地都是野生湿地,那么我们能不能保护湿地,让它成为另一种生活服务设施来作为高尔夫球场之外的补充?这样用地性质就是相互补充的关系,而非相互竞争的关系。于是除了两个已经在建的高尔夫球场,我们规划了湿地公园,并将另外一个高尔夫球场规划为娱乐公园。甲方接受了我们移交的第一版方案——我们不需要四个高尔夫球场。就这样我们迈出了第一步。开发商和我们一起来到当地政府,向市长提出了同样的建议。你从他们的视角提出理由,而不是这样说:“我们是景观设计师,是生态学家。你这么做是错的。”那是争论,而不是协商的最佳方式。我们应该做到有理有据。于是,市长认同开发商的意见,认定四个高尔夫球场得方案确实不合理,并采纳了我们的推荐。这个经历让我深信:在如此大尺度的项目中,虽然景观设计师在在城市中并没有资金资本,也没有真正的后盾支持,但是通过你理想化的论证和说理,甲方会倾听我们的意见。所以我觉得设计师这个行业是在代表我们自己,代表大众的权益发声。

Zhangjiabang Park, Shanghai, China | © www.sasaki.com

So, the next question is about, you know the urbanization in China, especially in big city like Shanghai is basically very high, and actually there are many pioneering explorations happening there. So there are a lot of people trying to think about shanghai, think about problems of cities. As far as I know, Shanghai has participated in many projects which include all types of services in SASAKI, from the big scale to small scale, from the architecture to the public ground. So in your opinion what are the advantages and what are the limitations of the practice in Shanghai, or the environment in Shanghai?

下一个问题是,在中国城市化进程中,尤其像上海这样高度城市化的城市,许多先锋性的探索在那里进行。许多人开始思考上海这座城市,思考城市带来的问题。据我所知,SASAKI 在上海做过从大到小、从建筑到公共空间的各种类型的项目。在你看来,上海这些项目的优势在哪里?局限在哪里?

That is a big question. SASAKI has been practicing in China for a long time. And we do have a very strong presence in Shanghai because of our history, our interests, and our local presence – we have a studio in Shanghai and a lot of people there, which you have visited. In general, in the past, it has been urban design, urban planning, and landscape planning more, but in the recent years we are really ramping up our building-up landscape practice. Currently, we have at least three or four ongoing practice in Shanghai area. So, the question is the limitation or challenge to practice in the density development area in Shanghai. I don’t see it more as a challenge, I see opportunities first. Because it is so dense as a pinnacle in a developing country, it’s interesting just position of concentrated wealth that was not second to New York or any international cities, but at the same time, it does have many environmental and social problems that are typical to China or developing countries. So, I see that’s a fascinating opportunity for us to practice as a landscape architect or ecologist to be part of the dialogue, part of the movement to make positive changes. and often your creative ideas can be implemented in a relatively short period of time, which can be dangerous if the idea is too radical or wrong. But it’s not without any challenges. First, from my observation, that is a lack of public involvement. It’s not only because of the political reason, often it’s the structure or process of the development. So, when the designers or the planners are involved in the process, the public has been removed from the process, so the land often is void of any existing residents.

So even though we tried really hard to speak to the local community, to try to understand what is lacking, what is needed for the public realm and what can we help but often we are speaking to a blank wall, there is nobody on the other side to listen to us. And we can only talk to the developer or the government who do not really represent the general public.  So, that is the biggest challenge. To myself, the future user was the general public who will be using that public space is my real client, not who pays the bill. So, that the ultimate customers, you know, my design is serving, so I would like to talk to them, but the challenge is that they do not exist, or they don’t exist in the time that I’m involved. Maybe they were there before the land use was changed by the government to become a development project. They were gone or they were relocated far before I was involved, or they were moving after the project was implemented ten years after the design, and then I’m not at there anymore. So yes, that’s the biggest challenge.

这是一个很宽泛的问题。SASAKI在中国实践多年。出于历史、兴趣、和我们在上海的分公司及大量员工,我们与上海的联系可以说是尤为密切。总的来说在过去我们做的城市设计、城市规划、景观规划项目更多一些,近年来我们开始更多的着重建成设计项目。目前我们在上海就有三到四个正在进行的项目。你的问题是上海这个高密度城市实践的局限和挑战,我其实不把这看作是挑战,而首先看到的是机遇。作为一座发展中国家中的高密度城市,上海所聚集的财富不亚于纽约或世界上任何一座城市,但与此同时它有中国或其他发展中国家具备的典型的环境以及社会问题。因此,我把这当做是景观设计师和生态学家进行实践的一大机遇,我们可以有话语权,投身与这场运动中,对城市做出积极的改变。在这种环境下,你的创意和灵感可能很快被付诸实际,但果这个想法是基激进的或是错误的,那么后果将会是危险的。同时,有机遇不代表没有挑战。首先,就我的观察来看,我们缺乏公众参与。不仅是由于政治因素,更是由于项目的过程和组织方式。当景观设计师和规划师参与到方案中来时,公众已经被从设计进程中移除了,于是土地上不存在居民。所以尽管我们试图想去与当地社区交流,试图去了解在那片土地上他们缺乏什么,需要什么,我们能做什么,然而我们只是对着空气说话。我们只能和开发商,和政府交流,然而他们并不能代表普通民众的声音。所以这是最大的挑战。对我而言,真正的客户是那些未来使用这些公共空间的大众,而不是出资方。这些最终的客户才是我的景观需要服务的人,所以我想要和他们对话的,然而问题是他们并不存在,或是他们在我参与项目时并不存在。也许在政府决定开发,改变用地性质之前他们存在,远在我介入之前他们已经搬离或者被动迁。或者他们在项目建成十年后才搬来,而那时我早已不在那里。所以这就是最大的挑战。

Chongming Island Xincunsha Master Plan, shanghai, China | © www.sasaki.com
Chongming Island Xincunsha Master Plan, shanghai, China | © www.sasaki.com

You mentioned that the public engagement is very important, and we know here in western culture, it is easy to have the public meetings and public engagement in the design process. But in eastern culture, especially in China, it is a little bit difficult to have public involved in the decision making, but actually it is really important. You have to listen to the voice of people who really live there. So during your experience in China, how so you try to promote kind of public engagement in the decision making process? Is any strategy you have ever tried?

您提到公众参与十分重要,但是我们知道在西方,公众研讨会和公众参与在设计进程 中是很容易展开的。但在东方,尤其是中国,想让公众参与到决策中来有些困难,但同时这又是适逢重要的一步。 您是如何推动公众参与设计决策的?您尝试过真么样的策略?

Yes. This is related to another challenge that I forgot to mention: the physical environmental challenge.

And we all know that it is air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution in general in China. But Shanghai is still a lot better than the most of the rest of China, but it is a challenge for us. You are very part of the larger challenge that nobody knows how well and how thoughtful your design is, and you are under a big envelope if that envelope is still challenging…you become part of that… so that can be a challenge… and at the same time, the quality of the landscape is not as mature and as developed as architecture in China. You can see local designers and really high-quality architecture projects in China quite often, but landscape is still behind. Sometimes you see great ideas, but the construction the execution is not fully systematic or developed yet. So, that is the biggest challenge. Sometimes you have great ideas, but they cannot be realized in one hundred percent. So, I see that lacking right now, but I hope that there will be improvement pretty fast. And then, to respond the public engagement, because of the environmental challenges, the general public is becoming more and more engaged. I think that is the real power, it’s not how and what we do to encourage the public. Only if the public is willing or to have the desire or the urge to voice their own opinion and their own demand. That’s where the opportunities are. So, nobody can ignore that. You can see that now more and more people in China are talking about the sources the reasons or even the political flaws behind the severe environmental problem.  They want to change and they want to see changes realized in their tangible physical landscape. So, that desire is visible, but not so loud and strong enough. The government will have to implement some mechanism to try to connect the general public and the designers and the planners and policy makers.

是的,这有我与我刚才忘记提到的环境方面的挑战有关。我们知道在中国,空气污染,水污染,土壤污染普遍存在。尽管上海比其他很多城市的情况要好,但这确实对于我们来说是个挑战。你在这个大环境下,也成为大的挑战中的一部分 – 因为大的环境(全国的环境)就一直在改变,没有人知道你的设计有多好,如何有思想,这就变成很挑战的事情。与此同时,中国的景观项目的成熟度不如建筑。在中国你经常能看到优秀的本土设计师和高质量的建筑项目,然而景观却远远落后。尽管不乏好的想法,但是施工和实施过程却未成熟或系统化。所以这是最大的挑战。有时你有绝佳的创意,但你的想法却无法百分百地被实现。目前这是我们所欠缺的,但是我相信情况很快就能得到改进。对于公众参与的问题。由于环境问题日益突出,公众也越来越多的想要参与进来。我认为这才是核心推动力,而不是我们如何去鼓励公众参与。只有公众自己渴望发声提出自己的观点和需求,公众的权益才不会被忽视。可以看到,如今中国越来越多的人开始谈论这些严重的环境问题背后的原因,甚至是政治原因。他们渴望改变,他们希望在他们可感知的景观环境中看到变化。而现在这种声音是存在的,但是还不够响亮,不够有力。政府将有必要建立一套机制来促进公众、规划设计师和政策制定者之间的联系。

Lujiazui Riverfront Public Open Spaces, Shanghai, China | © www.sasaki.com

And at the same time, I am also trying to explore techniques or strategies to find alternative ways to engage the public. If we are not coexisting in one scope or one project at the same time with the potential users, just stakeholders, maybe in your social media there can be a great opportunity. I know that some scholars are exploring that with the emerging social media like Facebook in the US, Twitter, WeChat, and all sources of social media in China. That is a mine of data that you can really explore and found some patterns or interesting conclusions.  So, I’m hopeful and I’m also in the middle of thinking of a research project how to socially engage the general public on the digital level. So, you are not limited by the space, you are not limited by the time. You don’t have to be sitting in the same room with the community members or speak the same language. So, I am interested to explore that possibility. 

与此同时,我也在尝试寻找另外一种技术或策略来使公众参与进来。既然我们与潜在的使用者不在同一时空,而只有利益相关方,也许社交媒体存在很大的潜力。我知道有一些学者开始利用新兴社交媒体比如美国的脸谱,推特,以及中国的微信。其中确实埋藏了大量的数据,你可以从中得到一些结论和有趣的规律。所以我对此保持乐观态度,我也在思考如何在调研阶段使公众能够通过信息数字化的方式参与进来,这样一来,你就不会被时空所限制,不必和社区成员同处一室,说同一种语言。我对寻找这样的可能性很感兴趣。

What if we look at a larger area in Asia Pacific area including India or Thailand. Because we saw that SASAKI has done many projects, not just in China but also in other cities in Asia. So, we found many projects are related to new town design, or R&D or innovation district, so as urbanization process is speeding up, many cities are looking for urban renewal or revitalization. So based on your experience, what do you think the next big opportunity in the Asia area will be?

让我们把目光放到亚太地区包括印度和泰国。我们看到SASAKI不仅在中国,还在亚洲地区做过很多项目,我们发现其中很多项目与新城设计、研究开发、或城市更新改造有关。随着城市化进程的加快,许多城市正期待着城市更新的机会。根据您的经历,您认为在亚洲地区下一个最大的机遇是什么?

Suzhou Creek, Shanghai, China | © www.sasaki.com

First, I think Asia is not a simple term. I think it way more diverse and complicated than some of the other regions. So, I don’t think we can easily condense it to one term saying how to pursue, how to practice or how to do with Asian project or Asian countries. They are very different. China might be the most visible, or might be representing most of the opportunities, but from a design point of view, I think every single country, every single region, every single project should be treated differently. Whether it’s a new R&D district or it’s an infill urban revitalization, you do really need to look at the local context, the regional context, maybe national context from the policy level. I think especially in China now, China has gone through decades of rapid urbanization or extensive real estate development. And most of the land resources are almost depleted and I think more opportunities for us…to look at urban revitalization, look at what has been occupied, been intensively developed or in last decade or even hundreds of years, then find a creative way to regenerating, without destructing the vernacular character, without destroying the complex fabric.

Suzhou Creek regeneration plan was a really good example. It was so complex that often designer would feel timid:” Oh, where do I start? I can’t do this, I can’t do that.” So, that’s the real opportunity and actually can be challenging too. Because it is not easy. That’s a lot more difficult than doing a new R&D district or a new community, way more interesting at the same time way more difficult. But that’s my interest. So, I really enjoy Suzhou Creek, and I think it’s meaningful to the existing and future residents too.

首先我认为亚洲不是一个单纯的词汇。它比部分其他地区要多样、复杂得多。因此我不认为我们能够简简单单地用一个词汇概括我们如何在亚洲进行实践。亚洲的国与国之间有许多不同之处。其中,中国也是最突出的,或者说展现出了最多的可能性。但是从设计的角度而言,每个国家、每个地区、每个项目都应该被区别对待。不论是开发研究项目还是城市更新项目,你都需要研究当地的社会、宗教,甚至国家政治层面的背景。我认为尤其是在目前的中国,在经历了快速的城市化过程和密集的开发之后,大多数的土地资源已经枯竭。我认为更多的机遇在于城市的更新再造,回头看看那些在十年前甚至百年之前已经被占据的,已经经历过开发的地区,寻找一种有创意的方式,在不破坏当地脆弱的特征和复杂肌理的情况下进行城更新改造。苏州河两岸城市设计项目是一个很好的例子。它是如此复杂以至于让设计师有些畏畏缩缩。 “我不能做这些,也不能动那些,该从何如入手?“所以城市更新的确是机遇也是挑战,因为这绝不简单。相比新研究开发区设计或是新的居住区规划,城市更新项目要复杂得多,但是这是我的兴趣所在。所以我很享受参与到苏州河项目中,并且我认为这对现有的以及未来的居民来说非常有意义。

Suzhou Creek, Shanghai, China | © www.sasaki.com

” I think it has to be done at a more conscious pace, not to fast, because it can easily become an urban-land grabbing activity or some of the important farm land could lost to the aggressive urban development or no-profit driven development.”

“我认为农村建设必须以更加有意识的节奏,不能过快,因为一旦过快就极容易演变成城市土地的抢夺,或是重要的农业用地被用作具有入侵性、利益驱动型的城市开发。

Cool. We talked a lot about urban areas in China, and the next question will be a little bit different. So in addition to the high speed urbanization area but also in China, the rural and suburb area are really important actually. Also in recent years they have more opportunity for development, and if you think about national level policies, government are trying to make the rural area famous on development there. So do you have some takeaways or project that working on this area or some ideas you can share with us?

我们谈了很多中国城市地区的问题,下一个问题会有一点不同。除了高速城市化进程,中国农村地区问题也十分突出。近几年来发展的机会越来越多。从国家政策层面看,政府也在大力推进农村地区的发展。您有没有这方面的项目实例或想法能与我们分享?

I did a few years ago, work on an art village. So, we’ve done a few including Songzhuang. Songzhuang was a grassroots, self-formed art colony at the beginning and then became an art district and then becomes a quite important urban district.

And I did another one outside Shanghai. That was part of the…it was called “beautiful countryside remodeling movement”, something like that. It’s literal translation. That the Chinese government was trying to improve the living standard in the rural area, but at the same time, it could be taken the advantage by developers for real estate development opportunities. So, I have mixed feelings. I think it has to be done at a more conscious pace, not too fast because it can easily become an urban-land grabbing activity or some of the important farm lands could be lost to the aggressive urban development or non-profit driven development.  So, it has to be done consciously, with the thorough analysis to support the type of the development, the scale of the development, not only benefit the local residents: to help them gain a better living environment, but at the same time not completely transform their life that they do not have a stewardship of their hometown or their community anymore.

我们做过一些农村的项目,其中包括在几年前在宋庄做过一个艺术小镇的项目。宋庄是一个草根的,自己形成的艺术中心,后来发展为艺术区,再后来演变为重要的城市地区。我还做过另一个在上海郊区的项目。这个项目是“美丽乡村建设”(直译)的一部分。中国政府尝试着改善农村的生活条件,但与此同时开发商也在抢占农村地区的机遇。对此我的态度是两面的。我认为农村建设必须以更加有意识的节奏,不能过快,因为一旦过快就极容易演变成城市土地的抢夺,或是重要的农业用地被用作具有入侵性、利益驱动型的城市开发。所以农村发展必须建立在研究数据支持的基础上,更加有意识地控制开发的规模。创造更好的生活环境,同时不完全改变他们在家乡或社区中原有的生活方式。

798 Arts District Vision Plan, Beijing, China | © www.sasaki.com

The next question is about the power of voice of designers-how to empower the designer’s voice? One told me that in the strategy meeting last week the team here mention that our role as urban designer or landscape architect is expanding to as a consultant, which means we are not only to designing something, we are trying to consulting something. So do you see the opportunity of the changing roles in the context of design industry?

下一个问题是关于设计师的影响力。在上个周的战略会议上提到,城市规划设计师的角色将扩大到顾问的角色。他们不仅发挥设计师的作用,还将发挥咨询的作用。你怎么看待这样的角色转化带来的机遇?你会用什么策略来提高设计师的影响力?

I mean to me design is a kind of consulting, we are providing ideas, we are providing intellectual services.  So, there isn’t a hard line that, okay, design is design, consulting is consulting.  We are trying to help, so that’s what I perceived as what we do.  And it’s not always as simple as using pencil on paper or on the trace, drawing an idea. Ideas could be special, ideas don’t have to be tangible.  So, some part of our design effort or exercise is to come up with a strong narrative or direction of this project.  One project can go a million different ways, and all of them could have a beautiful plan, could have thoughtful and functional, special quality or texture.  But I do believe that there are certain ways that you can do the project at the best. Both spatially meaningful at the same time really critical, ecologically functioning and sustainable too. So how the ecology today? How the ecology tomorrow? And also, reflecting what was here in the past…

对我而言设计就是一种咨询,我们提供想法和智力性质的服务。所以设计和咨询之间没有明确的界限。我们尝试着提供帮助,这是我认识达到我们所在做的。和用铅笔在草图上勾画想法不同,想法可以是很特别的,想法并不一定是明确或有形的。所以我们设计师所做的努力部分在于描绘出或是选择设计的方向。一个项目可以有无数种不同的方向,从每个方向切入都能设计出美丽的方案,在思想上,功能上,或是质量上,亦或是材质上有所突出。但是我相信其中必然有一种最佳的方式,既提供了有意义的空间,又能满足生态性、功能性和可持续性。现在的生态状况如何,未来的生态状况如何,甚至是过去的状况是如何,(都会反映在项目里)。

Compare with people in other disciplines like politics, economics and technology who have larger and social and political impact, our efforts as landscape architect designers seem to be less recognized by the public. When we ask people do you know what we are doing, maybe they think about that we are just planting trees or digging a dirt, but actually we can do much more. So the question is, based on your experience, how can we landscape architects get more social and political impact? Because I think we are important, maybe there are something you want to see to improve our impact?

与具有较大的社会政治影响力的政治、经济和科技行业从业者相比,景观设计师的努力似乎不被公众所熟知。当我们问人们是否了解我们的工作时,他们会认为我们只不过是种种树,挖挖土,但实际上我们能做的有很多很多。所以,基于你的经历,能否谈谈景观设计师如何获取更大的社会政治影响力?

Absolutely. I hate the profession sometimes being trivialized as planting a few flowers and trees to make my lung healthier, such kind of questions. I’m always offended by that, at the same time I’m trying to be patient, to be understanding that people do not really understand our profession. I do believe our profession has huge potential, way more than what we are doing now, what we have been doing, what we are being perceived to be capable of. We should voice ourselves more, we should have a stronger tie with the academic so we have the strong intellectual support to our argument.  And one example is LFC, the last summer in the fall, 2015, and you were there too. I think it’s very inspiring. As a profession, we come together and make a strong statement for ourselves, projecting into 50 years for the vision we should achieve.  So, we are not serving a lead population like we did the past. We are not gardeners, we are not making the beautiful home for rich people only.  We can do a lot more with a stronger voice and more engagement. I believe that we can make a bigger impact, not only within design profession and design industry but we can contribute socially, environmentally to the bigger society. I always hope that one day the design profession will be an integral part of the policy making so we can influence some of the policies or upper-level decisions before we get involved. Kind of down-streamed, things are fixed already, we are just trying to make that work. But ideally, I want to design how things work best. 

我完全认同。我很不喜欢的一点在于,这个专业常受到轻视,认为我们的作用只是种花种草,让肺部得到清洁。我常常被这样的问题冒犯,但同时我试图耐下心来去理解人们其实并不真正了解我们这个职业。我相信我们有很大的潜力,远远超出我们现在所做的,我们已经做的,和我们被认为能够做的。我们应当为自己发声。我们应当和学术界更紧密的及联系起来以为我们的论辩获取理论支持。2015年夏季举办的LFC,你当时也参会了。我认为这是一场振奋人心的会议。作为同一个行业的工作者,我们汇聚一堂,为我们自己做出有力的声明,并提出未来50年成就的展望。我们不再像过去那样只服务于一小部分人。我们不是只会给富人设计花园的园艺师。有了更大的话语权之后,我们能够参与更多,做更多的事。我相信我们能够产生更大的影响,不只是在设计专业和设计产业,而是在社会、环境甚至是更大的社会范畴中都能发挥影响力。一直以来我都希望设计行业能够成为政策制定过程不可或缺的一部分,这样我们就能在政策制定之前对政策和上层决策做出影响,而不是在拿到手的已经固定的政策上去解决问题。在理想状态下,我们做出的是最能解决问题的设计。

张韬与Sasaki各专业同事在设计工作坊中 | © www.sasaki.com

I think you are amazing here right now, we know that may be eight or seven years ago you were student from University of Michigan and now you are becoming a principal at SASAKI which such a huge transition for yourself from a student to a principal. So during the eight years, how does SASAKI help you to grow your own voice, to practice, to learn, to test, to make mistakes. So how does this company offer you this kind of opportunities?

我认为您走到今天非常出色。我们了解到七八年前您还是密歇根大学的一名学生,而现在您已经成为SASAKI的一名项目负责人。在这八年时间中,SASAKI是如何帮助您说出自己见解,去锻炼、去学习、去尝试、去犯错的?公司是如何给你这些机会的?

” I think, first, believe in yourself.  And be serious too. Design is not something that “okay, I make things beautiful, I make thing cool.”  It’s okay for designers to have ego, but it’s a serious business, it’s a real deal. It’s not you know, self-entertaining profession.”

“首先,你要相信自己,同时也要保持严肃的态度。设计不仅仅是把东西做的漂亮或者酷炫。设计师可以特立独行,但是这是一桩严肃的买卖,这是真实的交易,而不是一项自娱的工作。

Yeah, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities and for the growth I have had in SASAKI.  The firm is very nurturing, and I’m very fortunate to be able to work with some of the colleagues here that I can learn tremendously.  And I was given the trust and the support to explore, to grow without the fear of making mistakes. I think that’s very important to young designers.  You know I just have to say that again and again. I’m really grateful.  At the same time, you have to believe in yourself, too. There are talented designers everywhere in SASAKI. It’s such a great place to learn, to really absorb knowledge. It’s such a great place to learn from your surroundings.  I think, first, you know, believe in yourself.  And be serious too. Design is not something that “okay, I make things beautiful, I make thing cool.”  It’s okay for designers to have an ego, but it’s a serious business, it’s a real deal. It’s not you know, self-entertaining profession. So, believe in yourself, be dedicated, don’t be afraid, and then you know I was lucky enough to be surrounded by talented and nurtured people in SASAKI so I was grateful that I have space and trust to grow really fast.

是的,我由衷感激我在SASAKI得到的机遇以及它所带来的成长。这个公司像一片沃土。很幸运我能和这些同事一起工作,我从他们身上受益匪浅。并且我被给予了充分的信任和支持去鼓励我探索、成长而不怕犯错。我认为这对于一个年轻设计师来说尤为重要。我还是要一遍遍重复。我真的十分感激。与此同时 ,你也要相信自己。在SASAKI,有天赋的设计师到处都是。这是一个绝佳的从你的周围学习和吸收知识的地方,有一个非常好的互相学习的环境。我想,首先,你要相信自己,同时也要保持严肃的态度。设计不仅仅是把东西做的漂亮或者酷炫。设计师可以特立独行,但是这是一桩严肃的买卖,这是真实的交易,而不是一项自娱的工作。所以相信自己,勤奋肯干,不要畏惧。我很幸运在SASAKI能够有这样一群有天赋、值得学习的一群人在我身边,给予我空间和信赖助我迅速成长。

Based on my understanding, I think you are so passionate and really love you are doing and learning from the people here at SASAKI, but also maybe the other part is your personality. You have many interest like you are playing with music. You are doing with a band. You are playing with motorbike, you are trying to do a lot of drawing and do some adventures. So how can these interest or hobbies help you to make good design?

在我的了解中,您是一个富有激情的设计师,热爱您的工作并从身边积极地学习,也许这和您的性格有关。您有许多爱好比如说您玩音乐,有一个乐队,玩摩托车,尝试绘画,还喜欢户外探险。这些爱好是如何帮助您做设计的?

“I believe a good designer not have to be, but better to be an interesting person. “

“我相信一个优秀的设计师,并不是说一定要,但最好要是一个有趣的人。

I believe a good designer does not have to be, but better to be an interesting person.  I like being surrounded by interesting people with broad open mind and interest. The society sometimes is boring enough already and I don’t want to be an addition of what’s there. I want to be interesting.  I do have a lot of interest and that makes me energetic every day, and that makes me more curious about the world, makes me connected with more people.  So overall, I want to stay open, stay curious, especially today the topic is so divided, at the same time so diverse. We can easily become complacent of what we have and what you believe in, then you close off. But I am interested in learning always.  You know I remember when I came to SASAKI, when I was interviewed there was one message stayed with me and I felt I was so right away so this is the place where I should come.  I was told that SASAKI was like a SASAKI University, where learning process can never stop. And I felt, well, okay.  At that time, I was nerdy and I like school, I’ve spent years in school and that’s great you know, you will be paid to learn, to do what you like. So, that’s how I feel that you should always explore your interest.

我相信一个优秀的设计师,并不是说一定要,但最好要是一个有趣的人。我喜欢被有趣、思维开放、兴趣广泛的人所包围。有时候,社会已经足够无趣,而我不想再为社会徒增无聊了,我想做个有趣的人。我确实有很多爱好,它们使我每天都保持精力充沛,对世界充满好奇,并带我结交更多的人。所以总的来说,我会保持开放的态度和好奇的心理,尤其是当下有那么多分裂的,不同的话题,我们很容易对自己所相信的那点东西感到自我满足,然后就陷入了故步自封。但是我总是对学习保持兴趣。我记得到当我来到SASAKI的时候,有一句话给我留下了极为深刻的印象,让我觉得我非来不可。有人对我说SASAKI公司就像是SASAKI大学,在这里学习永无止境,我觉得太棒了。当时我有些书呆子气,特别喜欢学校。我想已经在学校呆了这么多年,而在这里工作,你能拿着薪水学习,做自己想做的事情。所以这就是我认为我们应该发掘自己的爱好的原因。

张韬拍摄的优胜美地国家公园 | © www.sasaki.com

We also one more question about traveling. We know designers travel a lot and maybe you also travel a lot and do some adventures, so do you have some very interesting stories or travelling tips that you can share with us?

有一个关于旅行的问题。我们知道设计师经常各处考察,而您个人也常常旅行或是做一些户外探险。您是否有一些有趣的故事或者旅行的小建议可以分享?

There are many of them. I do like to travel, for work and for personal interest. For work…work is work, but at the same time, it’s fun.   For personal interest, it’s hard for me to narrow down. It is something like a flashback, a movie.

I would say, just don’t be lazy.  Often many people have many thoughts like I want to go there, I want to go there, but you never really make a plan.  Sometimes you need to be really spontaneous like kicking your butt. Ok, I’m going to make it tomorrow, I’m going to do it tomorrow. You might regret, but my experience is that long as you do it, it’s almost always better than your thought.  And I never regret.   It’s easy to stay in bed “Oh, it’s more comfortable, cold as here.” But no. Explore, go out to see things.   And with the internet these days you can see a lot of without moving or without going there, but being within that environment, it’s still different.  I love hiking. I love sports. I love going to different places by myself and I have never been in a different culture in a country in a region with different languages. It’s just fascinating. Again, it’s easy to be comfortable, it’s easy to be stable, but it’s more exciting to be active.

我做过很多旅行,有出于工作原因也有出于个人兴趣。工作考察就是工作考察,但也会很有意思。说到个人兴趣的旅行,实在是太多了。这就好像一串片段,一部电影。不过我想说(最重要的是),不要懒惰。很多人常常有各种想法,说我想去这儿,我想去那儿,但他们从来不去真正作计划。有时候你需要说走就走,明天就出发。你也许会后悔,但相信我,在我的经验中,只要你去做了,结果几乎总是比你想象中要好得多。我从不后悔。窝在床上很容易“这里多舒服,外面多冷。”但是不,要去探索,出去见识不同的人。如今,尽管借助网络我们足不出户就能了解许多地方,但是不身处在那个环境中,有些东西是没有办法体会的。我喜欢徒步,我热爱运动。我喜欢自己去不同的地方,体验不同的文化、地区、国家和语言。这是非常迷人的经历。再一次我想说,过得舒适安逸非常容易,但还是过得有活力一些更加刺激。

You have also work on many projects outside China. What interesting story do you have or what experience do you learn from that kind of project that you have never expected before?

您在国外也做过很多项目,有没有一些有趣的故事或是经历是您从未预料到的?能和我们聊聊吗?

I’ve worked on Belarus, in Minsk city which is the capital city of Belarus.  The final design was to present it to the president of the country. I had never worked on a project that would speak to the president of the country directly, so that was something new at that time.  And currently, I’m working on a project in the US in Denver. The whole process, the pace, the scope was very different from a typical project in China, so that was really refreshing to me after working on so many projects in China.  And I worked on Philippine as well. Yeah, I mean, they are similar in certain ways but they are all unique with a different context.  But I am quite open to different types of project.

我曾经在白俄罗斯的首都明斯克市工作。设计的最终成果被呈现给国家总统,我从未在任何一个项目中直与国家总统直接进行对话,所以这对我来说是一种全新的经历。现在我在美国丹佛进行一个项目,整个设计过程,包括设计的节奏、尺度与在国内的典型项目都非常不同。在做了那么多国内项目之后,这对我又是一种新的体验。我在菲律宾也做过项目。所有这些项目有共通之处,但又都具有独一无二的不同的背景。但我个人非常欢迎这样不同类型的项目。

Minsk Forest City: A regeneration of the Minsk-1-Airport | © www.sasaki.com

During our conversation, you mentioned you like new stuff, new social media, new communication ways, maybe you like new technology. So how do you see the new technology like nowadays we have visual reality technology like VR and AR , we have google glass and maybe in the future we have self-driving car. We also have many Big Data. So all these technology help us not only to understand our physical environment but also provide some new ways to interpret our future. Do you see some new opportunities or how new technology will help shape our future?

在我们的对话中,您提到您对新事物、新社交媒体、新的沟通方式感兴趣,也许您也喜欢新技术。现在我们有虚拟现实和增强现实技术,我们有谷歌眼镜,也许未来还会有自动驾驶汽车。我们有大数据。这些科技不仅帮助我们理解我们身边的环境,还为我们提供了解读未来的新的的方式。你是怎么看待新技术带来的机遇的?它们会怎样改变我们未来的生活?

I am interested in new technology, but I think I am getting less and less engaged in technology because first, I’m aging, and technology is advancing so fast, and I feel like I can never really follow.  I used to be such a techs-heavy guy you know for a while I was so good at 3D modeling and I am so into it.  I was following the development, the newest software, the cool tools.  But overtimes I think I’m still interested but relatively less.  I think technology can make fundamental changes and I am open to that and I look forward to that.  For example, sharing economy like you know Uber and Airbnb, ten years ago there wasn’t that thing, but today it’s really changing how people move and how people travel.  Another example is iPhone, it’s hard to imagine ten and years ago when first iPhone came out before nobody have a smart phone personal GPS or anything.  So, I am quite open, and I do believe there will be big changes or radical changes.  I think autonomous cars are emerging very rapidly and I think that will become a reality in almost no time. I think that will really change the car ownership, the infrastructure, the energy industry in many aspects.

我确实对新技术感兴趣,但我投入的越来越少了。因为首先,我的年纪大了,而科技又发展得如此迅速,我觉得很难跟上潮流。我曾经是一个技术迷,有一阵子我特别擅长、特别迷三维建模。我关注最新的发展,最新的软件和最酷的工具。但是随着时间推移,我对这些仍然有兴趣但是相对减退了。我相信科技能带来重大的改变,对此我持欢迎和开放的态度。例如,十年前并没有优步和Airbnb这样的共享经济,但如今这些改变了我们的生活。另一个例子是苹果。十年之前,当第一台苹果手机诞生之时,我们很难想象智能手机或是个人GPS 这样的东西,所以我的态度是开放的,我相信科技能带来巨大的变革。我认为自动驾驶汽车很有可能在不久的将来成为现实,并改变我们对汽车的所有方式,改变基础设施以及能源产业。

The GARLICer

Interview

Zhangkan Zhou
Wen Zhang

Editor

Editor: Austin
Editor:Bian
Editor: Dawei
Editor: Qinyi Zhai
Editor: Wen Zhang
Editor: Yi Yin

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