Wang Shu

Wang Shu

Architecture is a Job for God

The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

”Architecture is not just an object that you place in the environment,” Wang Shu explains.” Your experience of the architecture starts far away from the building. Architecture is not only the house in itself; it also includes a big area around it. All of this is architecture.” Shu does not take his responsibility as an architect lightly. Architecture can ”change the life of people and give them a new one right away. This is not a job for normal people to do. This should be the work of God.”

His studio, Amateur Architecture Studio, co-founded together with Shu’s wife Lu Wenyu, focuses on architecture that fosters community and works from the bottom up. ”We think that a society that is good for people to live in starts from the ground. Real culture starts from the ground,” says Wang Shu, and recounts his favourite project: designing a public toilet and wash-room for a rural Chinese village which became a local gathering spot for all of the villagers.

In the end Shu challenges the common understanding of Western democracy versus Chinese dictatorship. Modern societies have strong centralizing forces that level out differences, he states. In this light, Wang Shu argues, securing variety and local diversity within society is the real challenge, in China as well as the Western world.

Chinese Wang Shu (b. 1963) is considered one of the most important architects of our time. Together with his wife Lu Wenyu he runs the Amateur Architecture Studio. The studio is known for breaking architectural boundaries by weaving together ancient Chinese building tradition and an almost hypermodern formal language. He is the dean of the School of Architecture of the China Academy of Art and has received multiple awards, among others the 2012 Pritzker Prize, considered the Nobel Prize of architecture.

Wang Shu was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in March 2017.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017.

Supported by Dreyers Fond

  • Svetlana Alexievich

    A Human is a Scary Creature

    Nobel Prize-winning writer Svetlana Alexievich is known for her monumental non-fiction narratives exploring war and its aftermath in the former Soviet Union. In this video she discusses the role of the writer in a corrupted society permeated by money.

  • Eileen Myles

    A Poem Says 'I Want'

    “I think a poem really is a statement of desire.” Meet the legendary American poet, writer – and homosexual icon – Eileen Myles. In this video, she discusses the innate power of poetry and how to address the absence of the female genitalia.

  • Sambuichi

    One with the Earth's Cycle

    “Architecture should thrive like a plant.” Gain insight into the philosophy of a frontrunner in sustainable architecture, Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi, and hear how he created some of his unique, site-specific buildings.

  • Naja Marie Aidt

    What You Don't Want to Hear

    “Life’s fragility is ever-present.” Deeply moving video with Danish writer Naja Marie Aidt, who opens up about the tragic death of her 25-year-old son, and how she dealt with her overshadowing loss and grief through literature, gradually returning to writing.

  • George Condo

    The Way I Think

    George Condo was part of the 1980s wild art scene in New York. In this video, recorded in his New York-studio, the iconic artist shares his life-long love of drawing and thoughts on his artistic expression, which he describes as “artificial realism.”

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Joyce Pensato

    A Life with Cartoon Characters

    Meet the unique artist Joyce Pensato, who paints funny yet sinister large-scale versions of cartoon figures and comic book heroes. We visited the Brooklynite in her studio where she showed us around and shared her love for the iconic characters.