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

  • Peter Land

    Man Falling

    Meet an artist who uncompromisingly uses himself in his art. Inspired by his own fears and anxieties Peter Land makes disturbingly humorous work, but it was moral qualms that were behind his groundbreaking video of himself dancing naked.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    Girl Power From Another Century

    Meet the truly original video artist Mika Rottenberg! Here she shares the fascinating story behind her take on Orwell's 'Animal Farm' – a work in which a group of women with extremely long hair turn things around – and take fate into their own hands.

  • Vigdis Hjorth

    I am not a Pretty Postcard

    “Writing is the relationship between head, gut and hand.” Vigdis Hjorth is considered one of the strongest voices in contemporary Norwegian literature. She here shares why it is essential for her well-being to be able to express herself in writing.

  • Yona Friedman

    Architecture of Trial and Error

    “Don't forget that very important cities today started by immigration.” Meet the 94-year-old architect behind 'L’Architecture Mobile', Yona Friedman. He here shares the story of how his years as a refugee sparked his desire to make architecture adaptable.

  • Nástio Mosquito

    'Mama Africa' is a Construct

    In this short interview Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito discusses his provocative video work, in which he through three blazing speeches addresses the legacy of the western logic of ownership and debt, not least regarding a construct like ‘Africa’.

  • Nástio Mosquito

    What are You Willing to Die for?

    Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito has been dubbed “the future star of the art world.” He here talks about his invigorating multidisciplinary practice, which investigates universally human characteristics in a teasing, polemic and humorous way.

  • Marina Abramović

    Electricity Passing Through

    For more than 50 years trailblazing performance artist Marina Abramović has used her own body and energy as her main artistic material. In this powerful interview, the artist looks back on her radical practice: “It was like the first woman walking on the moon.”

  • The Story of Marina Abramović & Ulay

    Legendary couple in performance art – Marina Abramović and Ulay – lived together for 12 years and made pioneering work as a duo. In this extraordinary double interview the artists look back on their relationship – from their first meeting in 1975 until now.

  • 11 Artists

    on Photography

    “We are so oversaturated with images, so it’s about one question: Can I hold you - can I get you to look at an image for longer than a second?” Watch Catherine Opie, Wim Wenders, Jeff Wall and 8 other artists on the power and potential of photography.

  • Julie Nord

    The Power of Drawing

    “It’s the closest you get to silence – or skin. There’s so little between me as an artist and my material.” Artist Julie Nord here shares her attraction to the "no bullshit" of drawing. Visit her studio and take a peek at how she makes her surreal, fairy tale-like drawings.

  • Nina Saunders

    A Cultural Warrior

    Meet artist Nina Saunders who plays with the familiar by twisting it in surprising ways. She here discusses her humorous yet disturbing work – made from discarded upholstered furniture and stuffed animals – which comments on our world.

  • Erica Jong

    Sexuality and Creativity

    “The urge to create and the urge to copulate are very close.” Watch the iconic feminist writer Erica Jong speak candidly of being fuelled creatively by desire, her experiences as a female writer and what she has come to realize about men.