The MAD Travel Fellowship was launched by MAD Architects in 2009 to provide mainland Chinese students with an opportunity to travel abroad and research their chosen architectural topics. It is only through travel – the visceral experience of walking into a space – that one can understand the architecture in its full context. This is also what MAD Travel Fellowship wishes for young architects - to understand contemporary design in co-existence with local traditions.
In the summer of 2013, five architecture students stood out from hundreds of applicants and won the opportunity to travel abroad for 10 to 14 days in the city or region of their choosing. After three months, the 5 winners had their expeditions in Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Germany respectively. For these young architects, the trips abroad were an amazing opportunity to supplement their architectural education.
On December 13th, 2013, the MAD Travel Fellowship Event was held in MAD's Beijing office. The five winners shared stories relating to their experience with architecture and design on their trips abroad. Bao Pao (the critics and artist), Ma Yansong (the founder of MAD Travel Fellowship) and Dang Qun (Associate of MAD Architects) attended the event and joined the discussion afterwards. The winners were:
Li Siqi, Graduate, Tianjin University, Destination: Spain
Architecture is no longer as Le Corbusier said, the “machine for living”. With the progress of society and technology, architecture surpassed its living function and bears extra meaning. In his journey to Spain, Li Siqi experienced more than just the architectural appearance, space, quality and other physical properties. What he focused more on was the sense of existence behind architecture. After experiencing the difference between the passion of Spain and the Chinese culture of serenity, Li Siqi spoke about the relationship between architecture and nature – the “human” part of this journey in existence with the sea, with the cliff, and with history.
Wang Siyi, Undergraduate, China Academy of Fine Art, Destination: Switzerland
How is an architect to deal the the relation between cultural tradition, humanistic care, and contemporary development under the realm of architectural space? Wang Siyi found an answer to that question during her journey to Switzerland, a country where modern architecture thrives. In Switzerland, Siyi visited many schools which helped her understand architecture as the background and vessel of life, sensibly containing the details of life.
Dong Xiaoxiao, Graduate, Tsinghua University, Destination: Portugal
Dong Xiaoxiao is obsessed with horizontality, and out of his love for the works of Siza Vieira, he chose Portugal as the destination of this journal. After putting himself in the actual architectural space, he found out that reading without actual experience could easily lead one to misunderstanding. Thanks to those Portugal masters of architects, the architecture around the Mediterranean sea is the best expression of Portugal's culture and life.
Chen Xixi, Undergraduate, Harbin Institute of Technology, Destination: Germany
One question deeply interested Chen Xixi: How did Germany digest the post-war trauma and deal with urban development? In contrast with his assumptions, cities in Germany and Austria showed less desire compared with Chinese cities. Instead, what is cared most for with German architects in their cities was the ordinary but complex everyday life.
Huang Yaojun, Undergraduate, Zhongnan University, Destination: Greece
For Huang Yaojun, architecture is the carrier of life and memory – thus attracting him to the rich tradition of ancient Greek cities, where he sought the links between human, nature and architecture. There, the long lived tradition of the city kept the memories alive, but also held the city in perpetual antiquity. In China, the disappearance of old architecture dissolves the living memory of people’s life; a new city is full of vitality but also full of conflicts. In this reality, what is the correct way to observe and criticize?
Photos of the 2013 MAD Travel Fellowship Event:
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