Balancing beauty and feasibility

With 15 years' experience in architectural design and a wide range of practical works, Zhang Xun is committed to the unity of aesthetic expression and feasibility.
Balancing beauty and feasibility
Courtesy of goa / Ti Gong

Zhang Xun

Who is she?

With 15 years’ experience in architectural design and a wide range of practical works, Zhang Xun is committed to the unity of aesthetic expression and feasibility.

As one of the principals of design company goa, she has participated in most of its representative projects, including high-end residences, luxury hotels and commercial premises. She is known for breaking through the restriction of complex functions and environment, realizing the balance between architecture and the natural landscape, integrating a quality of luxury into local culture for high-end resorts.

Please share with us some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of.

Goa, which I work for, is a comprehensive commercial design company covering high-end residences, hotel and office complexes. We have undertaken lots of famous projects, such as the Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at Westlake, Beijing Majestic Mansion and One Sino Park. I’m personally interested in public buildings such as hotels and schools.

One of the projects I’m proud of is the Alila Wuzhen, inspired by Wuzhen’s maze of canals and alleyways. The resort is a picturesque beauty itself with buildings and guest rooms that reinterpret the courtyard house style typical of this part of China, with floor-to-ceiling windows that bathe the space in abundant sunlight. The resort’s overall pattern takes villages south of the Yangtze River as its prototype and retains the spatial forms, basic elements, architectural scales and color schemes of traditional tribes. The “minimalist” aesthetics tendency of Oriental culture meets the demand of modern-day travelers in a space where history blends with the contemporary era.

Are you currently involved with any project?

At present, I am working on a resort hotel on a northern beach. Most of the famous resort hotels we used to know are on a tropical beach. But this time it is very different. Not only is the temperament of the scenery different, but also the restrictions on the form of the building brought by the cold climate are also very challenging. It will be quite interesting.

Describe your design style.

The overall style of goa is classic, elegant and simple, and so is mine.

Where are you most creative?

Good ideas can be created anywhere, more often on the bed or during a business trip, because there is a lot of silence time. But deepening of such ideas must be done in the office, as it is a rigorous job. At the end of the year, we will relocate to the new office designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop and goa, which is very exciting.

What does your home mean to you?

Hotel, library, grocery store. I spend less time at home, so I need to make my home as clean, comfortable and convenient as a hotel. I am used to collecting books and have accumulated a lot of books, even though I moved many times.

What do you collect?

I like raw materials since they have more possibilities than finished products. I like things with structure and warm things, so I have collected a lot of fabrics. Lacquer ware is a recent hobby.

Where do you like to go most in Shanghai?

Project sites and old alleys in Shanghai.

What will be the next big design trend?

I think design will go toward two extremes — on the one hand, respecting and cherishing tradition, allowing people to constantly explore the connection and inheritance between new forms and existing building types; on the other hand, new technologies and new space-use requirements may lead to the birth of some types of space that we could not have imagined before.

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