FuturArc Interview / 4th Quarter 2019

Yu Kongjian & Lou Yongqi

by Heather Banerd

Designers in China looking for a challenge are spoilt for choice. Rapid urbanisation has left the country struggling with environmental degradation, loss of natural resources and rising social inequality.

Yu Kongjian of Turenscape and Lou Yonqi of TEKTAO are two designers who tackle these issues head on. Both do so from multiple angles, through their positions as teachers, academics and practitioners. Both draw inspiration from Chinese cultural heritage, looking to traditional land management techniques and a way of life more rooted in place and context.

Yet from here, their approaches diverge. Yu Kongjian and his work on flood mitigation and water rehabilitation at Turenscape have influenced Chinese national land use policies, including the hugely popular ‘Sponge City’ approach that has transformed many Chinese cities. Lou Yongqi works at the opposite scale, engaging rural communities and grassroots organisations to create social change and opportunities in areas national policy has little impact.

Together, they present a picture of how design at all scales can create meaningful change.

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