My five weeks of teaching at the China Academy of Art (CAA) in Hangzhou, China are coming to an end way too fast!
It was a terrific experience. On Friday we had the final review of the workshop, a very interesting conversation about architecture, design and representation. And in particular about the future of rural villages in China, a subject that the government is paying a lot of attention to right now. When you think about it, the migration to big (very big!) cities is already unsustainable, so this is a rather positive development. The workshop looked at eight villages in Zhejiang Province, about three hours southwest of Hangzhou. I asked the students to develop a number of maps--in two dimensions, three dimensions and time-based--at different scales and using a variety of materials. It was wonderful group of talented, imaginative and hard-working students, and the jurors in the review were very pleased and engaged with the work they presented.
The CAA is changing a lot, expanding rapidly and ambitiously, as much in depth as in breath. A few weeks ago they broke ground for the new design museum by Alvaro Siza, and the construction of the art museum by Kengo Kuma is well underway. The school is doing these projects in partnership with the city and the province, a very exciting model (in both cultural and financial terms) that shows how much the CAA is positioning itself to stretch its horizons. I enjoyed enormously my time here, meeting old and new friends and colleagues, particularly young teachers, that I think would be great assets for our joint programs and exchanges. The RISD alumni in Hangzhou--Jeremiah, Ali, Jon, Desmond, Ryan and Jerry--are doing remarkably well. Amazing how fluent in Chinese they are. All of them involved in fantastic work, from actual projects to research and teaching.
What else can I tell you? Yes, the food (at street stalls, banquet tables and everywhere in between) is delicious!
Hope everything is well with you and at RISD. Stay in touch. Kind regards,
[Gabriel Feld, Professor in Architecture]