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Ullens Center for Contemporary Art examines one of China's most important architectural pioneers
FCJZ, Villa Shizilin, 2004. Southeast view.

BEIJING.- The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is presenting a comprehensive retrospective including over 6 installations, 40 models and 270 drawings charting the seminal, cross-disciplinary work of Yung Ho Chang and his practice Feichang Jianzhu (FCJZ). Chang and FCJZ transformed UCCA’s Great Hall into six courtyard-like modules inspired by the ‘hutong’, the traditional Chinese neighborhood network of narrow alleys between tile-roofed courtyard houses. Each module explores a different facet of Chang’s work and the exhibition also includes several of FCJZ’s art installations and two previously unseen films. Entitled YUNG HO CHANG + FCJZ: MATERIAL-ISM, the retrospective opened Sunday 30 September 2012, marking the first thorough attempt to examine one of China’s most important architectural pioneers.

Yung Ho Chang is the first Chinese architect to have emerged on the international cultural scene. Known as both the first architect to set up an independent atelier in China and the first Chinese national to head a major department of architecture in an international university—having served as dean of architecture at MIT 2003-2009—Chang has inspired a wide range of followers and mentored a new generation of talent.

UCCA Director Philip Tinari said, “Yung Ho Chang is one of China’s most important architectural pioneers and over the last 30 years of unprecedented growth in China, his practice FCJZ have devised a range of witty, thoughtful and universal design solutions inspired by distinctly Chinese problems and concepts. Design can have an incredible impact on the predicament of people and to everyday urban life. I am thrilled that UCCA is presenting the first retrospective for Yung Ho Chang who is considered the father of contemporary Chinese architecture.”

Spanning the last 30 years, YUNG HO CHANG + FCJZ: MATERIAL-ISM explores FCJZ’s experiments in architecture, design, planning and art together with a detailed study into the different aspects of Yung Ho Chang's practice, such as inhabitation, construction methods, urbanism, tradition, perception, and culture. Through these works, the exhibition not only considers the buildings people inhabit and the cities they constitute but also the importance of design in everyday urban life and the specific predicament of people, in the context of the last three decades of unprecedented growth in China.

Each maze-like module presents models, drawings and objects on Chang’s key projects, with each exploring a different aspect of his practice:

I. BIKE APARTMENT – inhabitation as lifestyle
Taking its title from Chang’s whimsical 1986 design for a home inhabited by a single cyclist in Berkeley, this section looks at how architecture creates spaces for inhabitation and how design can reckon with its subsequent impact on the inhabitant’s lifestyle.

II. INFERNAL CONSTRUCT – ways of building
This section looks at FCJZ’s unique approaches to handling construction, often transforming ordinary materials such as glass tiles, concrete and bamboo into durable, elegant design solutions.

III. NOT SO IDEAL CITY – the urban condition
In questioning faith in architectural iconography and as an active response to the contradictory and ad hoc planning that characterises so many Chinese cities nowadays, FCJZ pioneered an approach called “micro-urbanism,” where buildings functioned as fully integrated living spaces in a city and environment rather than free-standing structures.

IV. ENDLESS COURTYARD – space and tradition
FCJZ explores whether there is such a thing as inherently Chinese space and suggests that if so, it is related to the notion of semi-outdoor forms such as the corridor (lang 廊) and the pavilion (ting 亭).

V. REAR WINDOW – architecture as perception
Named after Hitchcock’s 1954 film, this section takes the film’s play on the relationship between spectator and screen or in this case, built structures and inhabitant’s perceptions. Through exploring sight lines and vistas, FCJZ has argued that the building is in fact the eye of the beholder.

VI. SAINT JEROME’S STUDY – crossovers into art and culture
Referencing the early Christian scholar who was celebrated for his significant works spanning a great variety of subjects, this section explores Chang and FCJZ’s compelling experiments in fields as diverse as fashion, theatre, and literature.

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Ullens Center for Contemporary Art examines one of China's most important architectural pioneers

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