Lab D+H 是一支跨学科的、致力于通过设计与规划为社会带来积极变化的设计力量。不管是什么尺度的实践，他们对每个项目的态度都深深地根植于跨学科合作、工艺、社会和环境责任感。从概念草图到建成作品，对美的永恒探索与尊重，指导着其作品长期保持深刻性和独特性。作品的成熟与弹性浸透在对施工建造的掌控和可持续创新里。随着自然资源压力的不断增加以及景观越来越多地出现在基础设施项目上，将景观视作基础设施的绩效和运作，将长期在他们的设计中起到举足轻重的作用。他们认为，设计应该对我们所实践的场地负责，并为栖息在这片场地的人们提供更有深度的生活方式。
Lab D+H is an inter-disciplinary design practice committed to affecting positive change in society through design and planning. Working across cultures and at a wide range of scales, their approaches towards every project with deep commitments to craft, thoughtful solutions, and sustainability. From concept sketch to built object, a profound respect for beauty in the natural and built environment perpetually informs their design process. They believe that a successful design is culturally meaningful and feasible through all phases of a project. Mastery of construction combined with sustainable development practices imbue the landscapes of Lab D+H with sophistication and resiliency. Given the fluency in which landscapes lends itself to the scale of infrastructure systems, their practice is invested in the philosophy that designers should instill into a site the capabilities and mechanisms that allow for landscapes to perform as infrastructure. They believe design should be responsible to the places where we practice and should enrich the lives of people who inhabit them.
Mooool focuses on landscape architecture industry. In today’s interview, we introduce Zhongwei Li, the director of Lab D+H. We interview the prestigious design company around the world every quarter with the passion for showing the excellent design ideas.
总策划：陈科君 / Producer: Kejun Chen
编辑：王兰芳 / Editor: Via Wang
Interview: Mooool x Zhongwei Li
First of all, we are curious why you chose to study landscape at the University of Pennsylvania after studying design art at Tianjin University. And is it influenced by teachers, work practice or other reasons that make you pay special attention to the urban renewal section in the landscape field?
直到有一天看到了Peter latz的鲁尔区北杜伊斯堡公园，那个时候的我才发现景观也可以抛开形式直达场地的本质。这也进而使我对城市更新产生了很大的兴趣。当时peter latz在宾大教书，我也顺势投了宾大的硕士申请。这也是为什么最后选择了去美国读书，并在之后的从业经历中对城市更新类一直有着持久浓厚的兴趣。
When I was a graduate student at Tianjin University, I experienced great hesitation. At that time, I liked reading all kinds of theoretical books, but I found that it didn’t help me to improve my design ability. When I was doing design, I took a design magazine directly to imitate other people’s design forms. At the same time, the status of landscape industry in that period was still very embarrassing, and it was always wandering between architecture and planning. Planners can do landscapes, and so can architects. For a long time, I couldn’t find the necessity of landscape architect’s existence.
It wasn’t until one day I saw peter latz’s Duisburg Park, that I discovered that the landscape could throw away the form and go directly to the essence of the site. This in turn makes me interested in urban renewal. At that time, peter latz was teaching at Penn, and I applied for a master’s degree at Penn. This is why I finally chose to study in the United States, and I have always been interested in urban renewal in my later career experience.
When we read your resume, we can see that while you were studying abroad, you were also participating in practice. Did you change the design theory that you originally pursued in China because you encountered completely different thinking or patterns during your study abroad? Have you changed the correct ideas when studying on campus because of practice?
Different from landscape education in China at that time, foreign education is mostly a combination of very successful professional designers and teachers focusing on scientific research theory. The education of Penn University at that time is the best proof.
And my study experience is relatively special. After the end of the first year, I was puzzled by American education at that time. The large-scale urban design scale space and excellent design performance made me always feel that there was no real spatial form design in this process, which was almost a shortcoming of landscape education all over the world.
Then I chose to take a year off from school to practice in sasaki and west8. At that time, many teachers expressed their support for me with their actions. After returning to school again one year later, there was a new change in my understanding of landscape.
I still benefit from the compatibility of foreign education with theoretical study and work practice. When studying abroad, every graduate’s highest ideal is still to work in his dream office, which is quite different from that in China. Many people will choose to go to a real estate company with better salary or simply change careers.
After many years of practice, I also found the difference between theory and practice. This view is somewhat different from the general understanding of domestic theory and practice. I think the theory is more like providing some hypotheses for the future of the industry. And practice is just to turn theory into design practice, and to prove or falsify it a little bit. Constantly put forward the theory, turn the theory into a real project, and then turn it into a theory again through research and summary, so that the industry will make real progress again and again.
▼中伟回国后带领团队落地的几个项目使他们在行业名声大噪：永庆坊城市微更新(ASLA获奖作品) Yongqing Fang Urban Micro Transformation: One of the projects that Zhongwei led the team after returning to China made them famous in the industry.
As you said in the article “The Decameron of Modern Landscape”, Chinese landscape industry is making rapid progress, and a large number of projects are built, released and won awards every day. However, as a practitioner, you strongly feel that our landscape industry has not yet been in line with the world. What do you personally think should be improved in China at present?
I just returned to China in 2016. Up to now, I can clearly perceive the progress that the domestic landscape is in line with foreign countries at an incredible speed in terms of technology, ecological technology, media propaganda and industrial chain. In some areas, it even surpassed foreign countries, but it has become more morbid in the field of design.
At present, the speed is too fast. I gradually find that keywords such as productization, standardization, mass development and listing have gradually become the mainstream voices of the industry. Even between public landscape and real estate landscape, there are greater barriers between academics and practice, and forms have become more and more important. Designers’ groups are constantly subdivided into small industries, with little communication and more talking to themselves.
In fact, at present, what is most needed to be improved is to break through barriers, create a holistic awareness of the industry, increase communication, and finally talk with the world industry system. If every design can promote and inspire a larger industry system, I believe it will become healthier in the future.
As a landscape media platform, we also see that the current industry is very lacking in systematicness and integrity. “The Decameron of Modern Landscape” aims to improve this situation, and mooool is also making every effort to change it, and this year, three new sections will be launched: “Reading Classics”-Systematically share the classic works of masters for theoretical study; “Industry Discuss”-Providing a publishing platform for people in the industry to share problems and discuss progress together; “Project Practice”-Make up your mind to do it, and carry out field practice for public welfare.
Can we invite you to participate in the “Industry Discuss” section and share your ideas? Do you have any suggestions, goals and appeals to us, this section or practitioners in the same industry?
The original intention of making the “decameron” series is that I found that a large number of practitioners and students in the landscape industry lacked theoretical and historical knowledge. People like to invite overseas excellent firms to design and use for reference. Many people consecration excellent firms. When they are superstitious, people will blindly accept everything they have made. When they are disappointed, they think that overseas firms cannot adapt to the local environment. But few people want to know what these designers thought at that time and why they made such designs at that moment.
In essence, it is because many people forget that these designers are also part of the industry. Knowing designers and history can help your own design better and make your own design more original. This is why activities such as “Industry Discuss” are very important. More exchanges and more reflections will make greater progress.
▼景观十日谈——开篇 The Decameron of Modern Landscape.
Many years ago, the book “Design with Nature” mentioned: “From the perspective of architectural planning and economic development, it is absolutely necessary to make public investment for public goals. The reason is to live in this land better. This is understandable. People think that urban life can be colorful and happy, and imagine it well, but the result is completely different.” Nowadays, it is very difficult for us to feel the beautiful scenery in the city, and there is a gray sand environment caused by development everywhere. However, this is something that developed countries have experienced decades ago. As a frontline worker in the industry, what has D+H done or is doing to cope with the current situation in China?
McHarg’s confusion and thinking are everywhere in today’s Chinese industry. Everyone is busy with life and development, and few people will look back, and naturally they will not cherish the present. This process was also experienced in the extensive development period of America and Japan. We accept the status quo, but there is always some reflection. That is why Lab D+H has been intensively cultivating in the field of urban renewal.
Different from complete reconstruction, we always feel that the lost cultural history may never be recovered. If we can do our best to protect the existing ones and revitalize the incomplete ones, it will be a great achievement. So, just like when we entered the field of urban renewal five years ago, we believe that what we are doing now will definitely contribute to the future field of Chinese landscape.
Lab D+H坚持在城市中保护其文化历史，使其焕发生机：郑州二砂厂首开区的设计尊重原厂的格局，大量保留了场地上的原生树 Lab D+H insists on protecting its cultural history in the city and making it revitalize: Ersha Factory Landscape Renovation Project, Zhengzhou, China: The design of shoukai District respect the pattern of the original factory, retain a large number of original trees on the site.
加入了记忆之环管道廊架，并改造了部分旧厂的机械成为互动艺术装置，为二砂厂留住工业的记忆并注入新的活力 The design of shoukai District add the ring of memory. The pipeline rack has transfor- med part of the machinery of the old factory into interactive art installation. They retain the industrial memory and inject new vitality for the second sand factory.
福州乐群路项目同样强调了“保护”与“微更新”原则，修复和翻新建筑及墙体，把设计本身藏起来，只沉浸在整个场所营造中 In the same way, they believe that the revival of Yantai Mountain should use a more natural, innate design method to repair the site and inte- grate design into the environment.
Can you share with us the ASLA award-winning works led by you? Including the design and construction process, and your personal feelings in this project, although I know that you have shared these works with many people many times.
I have said the Yongqingfang project many times on many occasions. It is just one of the Lab D+H urban renewal projects. Although it is a so-called award-winning work, we are glad that China’s renewal project can be recognized by the world industry, but it is not the most special one in the firm. What really makes us feel precious is that during the design and completion of this project, we met a lot of friends in our work, and many of them are friends who say everything now.
At that time, it was unimaginable for Chinese landscape designers to enter the field of urban renewal. It is extremely difficult to convince a customer group that landscape design can also be used as an urban renewal project. Although compared with five years ago, urban renewal has changed over time, but it is still a difficult profitable field. Fortunately, such projects are still progressing steadily in the correct direction of history, and we also hope that more people can enter the urban renewal category to promote the city’s breathing and living together.
Can you disclose the next research plan of Lab D+H’s newly established urban renewal laboratory? And, will D+H pay attention to the development of rural landscape in the future? Focus on more other categories?
I admit that the development of rural landscape is very popular at present, and every design industry is rushing into the field of rural renewal. But it is interesting that this is not the focus of Lab D+H’s Shanghai office. Since the establishment of this office, we have been a solid urbanism laboratory. No matter how many people rush into the construction and practice of beautiful countryside, there will always be countless problems in the city that need us to solve. We have always paid close attention to the land and context in the city.
Therefore, compared with those aggressive design firms, we are more like people looking back in the busy city. This is why we set up the Urban Renewal Laboratory, which gradually studies and solves the problem of the lack of context in the rapid development of cities through the reconstruction of roadway and historical spaces.
Maybe in the near future, we will also set up a Earth Art laboratory to study the texture of urban veins.
更新后的三邻桥变成了一个具有社区价值的城市客厅，在这里， 老工厂将会变成复合事件发生的公共休闲空间，传统邻里社区的归属感将会在这个沧桑的工厂中重新复苏 The renovated Bridge 3 Sports Park is not only a historical neighborhood community in series, but also a city living room with community value. In here, the old factory will transfer to a public space where can hold events. The sense of belonging of the traditional neighborhood community will be revived in this historic factory.
Back to the actual situation, at this stage, like most practitioners at present, will you be tortured by work overtime and even doubt the future of the landscape?
To be honest, a long time ago, there were moments when I thought that the present was meaningless, and I wanted to turn to architectural planning or even change careers. Fortunately, after the age of 26, I no longer have doubts about the landscape industry. Indeed, landscape architect is a tough industry, but compared with architecture and planning, he is still a very young industry. We don’t have to push ourselves into futuristic designers, and we don’t have to design complex projects such as super high-rise buildings and hospitals with huge components. It can be said that the potential of this industry is still huge for landscape designers.
This era is also the best for landscape designers, and it is an era where acontention and flourishing of thought. As long as constructive theories are put forward and expound and prove, everything is acceptable. Therefore, torturing overtime is not enough to make me doubt the future of the landscape in 20 years.
What are your personal views or working ideas in the field of urban renewal?
Urban renewal is an extraordinarily unpredictable project type. In fact, the most important point supporting us to go on is “micro”. When we meet a new site, we will look for and respect all the tiny elements of the site and try our best to transform it into a new landscape. We will also respect the historical context of the venue and make the most nuanced changes, instead of over-designing for making a so-called amazing work. Even, we will design according to local conditions to minimize the impact of our design language on the site. Through the classical space to achieve the greatest impact. Therefore, “micro-update” is our principle for operating such projects.
▼五年来，Lab D+H持续建成了许多高质量的公共景观项目，包括新作：黑石M+公寓 In the past five years, Lab D+H has continuously built many high-quality public landscape projects: Blackstone M+ Apartment.
对场地的历史文脉进行最大的尊重进行最细致入微的改变，而不是为了做出一个所谓惊世之作而进行过度的设计 We will also respect the historical context of the venue and make the most nuanced changes, instead of over-designing for making a so-called amazing work.
So far, what is the project that best meets your expectations? What do you think of the project of Luxel Eco-city?
To be honest, no project has completely met my expectations so far. Even if Yongqing Fang, Suzhou Bay Park, Ersha Industrial Park and Blackstone Apartment have their own flaws. I’ve been expecting the next project to be closer to expectations, but this process is always extremely difficult. So far, what I expect most is that the Waterline Park in Luxel Eco-city can meet my expectations, because it is indeed a project inspired by Chengdu itself, which is not only highly original but also difficult to imitate. We also hope that his completion will not disappoint us.
▼麓湖生态城水线公园设计稿 Chinese painting of Waterline Park in Luxel Eco-city.
▼Lab D+H 在麓湖生态城的另一个项目：麓阶 Another project in Luxel Eco-City: Luxel Step, Chengdu, China.
Is it convenient to talk about your views on demonstration area projects, a unique category in China?
Since three years ago, we have rarely designed demonstration area projects. Demonstration area is a magical product of Chinese real estate, and it is also a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he can make a firm build many projects quickly, but because the starting point of the demonstration area is selling houses, it makes it difficult for designers to think deeply. The biggest purpose of landscape construction in demonstration area is to cover up the problem of site, rather than solve the problem of site.
Ironically, the same design is a classic design handed down from ancient times in the metropolis of new york, but it will be grotesque in the demonstration area. There is nothing wrong with design, but in essence, there is something wrong with the starting point.
From the early simple sales office landscape to the present park demonstration area and urbanization demonstration area, although the name has changed, the core of the demonstration area has not changed. Because this type of theme is still sales, not for long-term use. Therefore, as far as we are concerned, we still prefer urban public projects with more urban texture and more complex surrounding contradictions.
▼Lab D+H近期项目作品：苏河湾 Recent project by Lab D+H: Suzhou Bay Park, Shanghai, China.
▼Lab D+H近期项目作品：南头古城城市更新 Recent project by Lab D+H: Nantou Urban Micro Transformation Project, Shenzhen, China.
Thanks to Zhongwei Li for the deep cooperation in this interview, as well as the coordination and assistance of everyone involved.
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