[Message from the Editor: Recently we interviewed Prof. DONG Danshen (Architecture, ’86), Chairman of the Architectural Design & Research Institute and Director of the Center for Balance Architecture. Founder of the "Balance Architecture" theoretical framework, he has devoted himself to the architectural creation and research. He's the author of the two monographs: Towards Balance and Knowledge and Practice in the Construction of University Campuses.]
Q1: How do you view the relationship between the Architectural Design & Research Institute and the discipline of architecture?
DONG: Historically, the establishment of the Zhejiang University Architectural Design &Research Institute(UAD) caters to the needs of both campus construction and disciplinary development. The College of Civil Engineering and Architecture is one of the earliest established schools at Zhejiang University. It has turned out a galaxy of talents in 90 years of development. The inclusive and diversified culture in Zhejiang nurtures the fertile imagination of local people. The overall quality of our undergraduates is excellent. For example, the rate of pursuing overseas studies upon graduation is very high and an appreciable number of graduates are working as technical experts in medium- and large-sized enterprises.
In contrast with common design institutes, we are empowered with different responsibilities. At present, UAD operates on a large scale. It can support the development of the discipline by means of a specific mechanism. UAD has set up a disciplinary development fund to provide financial support for teachers to engage in teaching, research and practice and to publish textbooks. The university also allocates specific facilities as an internship base and a post-doc station where state-of-the-art research findings and projects can be open to visitors.
Q2: As the Director of the newly established Center for Balance Architecture, how do you understand “balance” in the architectural design?
DONG: Architecture is not simply about building a house for the sake of building a house. You may find that an impressive building strikes a relative balance with nature, the needs of the owner as well as the demands of society. In architectural design, we should direct meticulous attention towards the fundamental demands of various entities and respond to them through various means in the design process. “Balance”, so to speak, satisfies the needs and conditions of each and every field in current society.
With “balance” as a core principle of design, the Zhejiang University Center for Balance Architecture was established in 2020. It will engage in forward-looking and applied research in key areas such as theory of Balance Architecture, future communities, green buildings and circular cities, high-performance materials and large-span structures, underground space, industrial architecture and resilient cities.
Q3: What is the design concept of the Haining International Campus?
DONG: The construction of Haining International Campus adheres to the “people-oriented” design concept. With ample attention paid to the daily activities of faculty and students, Haining International Campus combines residential colleges, teaching complexes and public research platforms.
Here, teaching buildings, the canteen and the library are compactly connected, thus shaping the concept of teaching complexes. The teaching complex in each residential college can satisfy students' need to study and socialize. It brings in its wake an integration of multiple functions, which can contribute to dynamic and comprehensive communication and interaction, thus stimulating the vitality and attraction of a particular place. For example, the canteen becomes an extension of teaching space. It is much more than a dining space. Our library is open 24 hours and there is a café in it. Students can read, think, communicate and rest anytime and anywhere.
Haining International Campus
With this innovative concept of “learning anytime and anywhere”, and through the customized design of space, students can be spontaneously drawn to the public space from their dormitories. Whether it is in the teaching building, the canteen or the library, we try every means to create social areas to encourage vibrant and casual interactions, enriching students' experience in ways that can spark novel ideas.