ARCH+ features 34: Zhang Ke
Zhang Ke of ZAO/standardarchitecture from Peking is one of the most interesting protagonists of a young generation of Chinese architects and urban planners. His work seeks to connect with the specific context and local tradition using contemporary means of expression. Zhang Ke is calling for a return to materiality and traditionality, also with a view to making architecture a more tangible and interesting potential career path for the younger generation.
To complement his exhibition "Contemplating Basics" in Berlin, ARCH+ features offered Zhang Ke a platform to present his work – including the projects in the exhibition and other conceptual works and installations. Anh-Linh Ngo of ARCH+ provided an introduction to the event.
For Zhang Ke, "Rethinking Basics" is about revisiting and reinterpreting Chinese building traditions. He has observed how young architects who have grown up and socialized as part of the media age are turning their interest back to locally typical architectural forms handed down over generations. The qualities of traditional Chinese architecture are being revisited and reinterpreted by different and unrelated architectural bureaus.
ZAO/standardarchitecture deliberately sets itself apart form other Chinese architectural bureaus which seek to produce buildings for maximum impact, according to Zhang Ke. The bureau deliberately dismisses the spectacular and concentrates on the implementation of urban ideas and visions. Even though the work of ZAO/standardarchitecture can frequently culminate in provocative outcomes, its designs are always oriented around the relevant historical and cultural background coupled with an intellectual, discussion-provoking approach.
Eduard Kögel, editor of the internet platform
>, discussed the current developments in China with Zhang Ke and Anh-Linh Ngo. Beyond the building boom which has taken place in the country, niches have certainly opened for innovative solutions, according to Kögel.
The venue was the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in the Scheunenviertel district of Berlin.

All photos: David von Becker.
© 2020 S. Siedle & Söhne OHG