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Liu Yuyang: Be Your Own Client

Liu Yuyang is a Shanghai and Hong Kong based architect and academic, who graduated at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He’s the founder of Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects (ALYA), a company that represents design professionals who’re devoted to improve environmental buildings through global ideas and the usage of individual concepts. Working in the context of the fast growing developments in today’s Asia, ALYA reaches to advance every one of their projects with a high level of precision, trials and methodology.

Hong KongHong Kong Central Piers Concept Planning Design Team: Liu Yuyang, Charles Cheng, Tynnon Chow.

Currently Yuyang shares that ALYA, will in the upcoming future, be working with “a few buildings in and around Shanghai with particular emphasis on low-carbon, ecological design, specifically an Environmental Monitoring Station for the Qingpu Government, and an industrial-office building in Kunshan Industrial Park.”

When Liu Yuyang was between the age of 15 and 18 years old, his parents took him to travel in Thailand and Japan. There they visited several historical and religious sites--temples and shrines. Yuyang says that it was the first time he vaguely felt there was a different "feeling", or "order" in these edifices -- something we might call "architecture"—“that transcends our everyday experience.”

“I was attending college in San Diego, and had the chance to see one of the most important modern architecture masterpieces -- the Salk Institute by Louis Kahn. There I felt the same kind of "order" in Kahn's work as I did in those historical buildings, and realized that architecture of transcendental quality can also happen in modern, technological or functional buildings. At that moment I decided to pursue "architecture" as a life-long personal and professional interest.”

Today, Yuyang thinks market focused problem solving is key, in which he contributes to and that aspiring architects should comprehend:

“Architecture, since the origin of civilization, has always been about, at least in parts, problem solving. The problems are not more difficult, but more complex, more diverse, and therefore more interesting. One of the pleasures in architecture, in my mind, is about problem solving. An architecture that doesn't solve its intrinsic problems--be it programmatic, aesthetic, spatial, or utilitarian, and by extension, the relevant urban and environmental problem, is only a superfluous structure.”

Getting Better & Getting Your Own

Running his own company was a big step for Liu Yuyang, while it was a big opportunity for him and his future; he also risked to loose. He believes that this is what has made numerous other people, with the same aspiration hold back.

“It was the fear of starting something, without a stable source of income or institutional support. It was really more of a mental fear which prevents most people from starting their own practices. Of course, once started, there were always uncertainties--be it financial, staffing, design, etc., but you just find ways to deal with them as they come, with a little bit of foresight and tenacity, you just overcome those hurdles one by one.”

Liu Yuyang points out what he believes is the grandest mistake of inexperienced architects:

“Lacking common sense, or a sense of what is appropriate, from a user's point-of-view. Start caring about everyday people and small scale design.”

And the last tip from Liu Yuyang:
Read, draw (by hand!), travel, and design things with yourself as the client, and be honest with all of the shortcomings of that design, then you will know all the things to avoid or to pay attention to when you have your own client.

“Believe in architecture, but don't believe its omnipotence.”

Hong Kong Central Piers Concept Planning
Hong Kong Central Piers Concept Planning
Design Team: Liu Yuyang, Charles Cheng, Tynnon Chow

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