A city does not have a future without culture. So says Lyndon Neri, founding partner of Shanghai-based architectural-design practice Neri & Hu, in a recent conversation with Architonic.
Lyndon Neri (Neri & Hu) at WAF 2016, Berlin – Photo © Architonic
Do your architectural projects have a certain signature?
I think we are extremely contextual. I believe in what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once wrote: ‘We don’t aspire to be eternal beings. We only hope that things do not lose their meaning’. And I do hope that we do not lose meaning in our pursuit of space-making. Often we get so caught up with the immediacy of the world we live in. We fall in love with an image, an object, without really understanding the spatial relationship of the building outside and inside, and its relationship with the landscape that it sits on.
HUB Performance + Exhibition Center, Shanghai, China 2015 – Photo by Dirk Weiblen| Read more about the project
Is there a 21st-century building material?
I think it is changing. We have not gone so far away from what Le Corbusier has done. Concrete, steel and glass are still there. But I think we do have to explore beyond these materials. There are other opportunities out there that are more sustainable.
Does evolving technology affect your work?
They are an apparatus that will continue to change and we should use them to work more efficiently. But, at the end of the day, we have to know our history and should not forget what humanity stands for. We have to respect the urban memory that we are in. If it comes to a point wherein this is no longer relevant, then we are just a machine. It is like taking a human being and desensitising everything, where we speak one language and have no cultural differences. I don’t believe in a world like that. I believe the richness of this world will continue despite of all the media of technology that we are exploring.
Sulwhasoo Flagship Store, Seoul, South Korea 2016 | Read more about the project
Comme Moi flagship store, Shanghai, China 2015 – Photo by Dirk Weiblen | Read more about the project
The Waterhouse, Shanghai, China 2010 – Photo by Derryck Menere | Read more about the project
Xi’an Westin Museum Hotel, Shanghai, China 2013 – Photo © Pegenaute | Read more about the project