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Design Good Building——Interview with Mr. Nicola Ghirardi

May 9th, 2015 by


Tong Jun, the architect of the first generation in modern China, had been asked a question:” What is architecture?” His answer is lightly:” Architecture is not more to itself, is it?”

    When I asked Nicola about his architectural principles, his answers paralleled those of Mr. Tong:” My principle is to make good building.” These few words may be easily rooted among the people rather than long speech, no matter in architectural principles or ways and means.


    This Italian architect came to Shanghai with hot-blooded and casualness. Being an architect is his choice and he insists on going on the way. “The biggest thing in life has never been planned. So it’s surprised. And China is one of those. I never planned to come here to work. Fanfan Studio gave me an opportunity to work in my field, to work as an architect and there is so many things about architecture. So it makes the country very excited about my profession. I came to China because of challenge just to make experiences of working in a new country where I can see the project, the big project, different culture, and different way of living. All is very interesting about I made this new challenge. I’m very happy I get it.” He is get used to living in Shanghai during the three and a half years. Also, he loves this city. “I choose Shanghai because they show me the environment about the others. Of course I would like to live in a big city. It’s easier to create a life that is similar to, like what I have told, it’s more international, more open and have more chances to live a life. I prefer Shanghai because I think the environment is more international, a little bit more exciting. And also defeat itself, the most interesting moment in China.”

    Architecture needs calmness and creativity, however, these things don’t influence his lifestyle. His happy-go-lucky policy brings color to life. “Before coming to China, I never thought I would stay this long. I could imagine I would stay a few years but I wouldn’t imagine I could stay this long. And I have no plans about my staying so it’s difficult to tell what could happen. At most of the time it depends on the job. Not just from the job that they made, mainly from the job the moment.”



Museum of Anciant Chinese Oracles of Anyang, Nicola Ghirardi played as key design member

    Kennedy once said:” that disdains the mission of art, invites the fate of having nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.” And these architects, who are the creators of arts, design countless ancient civilizations and modern cities. “Architecture is my first choice. Architecture is related to created process and everyday life. Basically architecture is every aspect of your life from when you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed at night. You live in building and use building. You are surrounded by things that help you improve where you are living. Make you more comfortable and make you easier to do things that you have to do. Architecture is something like once you decide to take direction, it will produce overwhelming power. Very good architecture, you know, study big problem with private life. Because they just devote themselves to their jobs until they give up all of the rest. Architecture will never succeed in the private life.” Architecture seems like cells in his body. “There are many aspects in architecture I really love, include the creativity and the creative process. It’s not just art, it’s not just something beautiful, that’s also something like a very important function. It’s something very difficult and complex. And it takes like a lot of work to be realized. Architecture is a strong traction to me, of all those different aspects of architecture. I was always attracted by art and everything creative. But one thing I like about architecture that is called psychology of art, is something that you just stay there for a long time and solid. You know like advertising and painting, you know, just there. You can always go one. Architecture is much more solid and it’s more consistent. And its function is useful. We actually help people complete it everyday. I thought it was a good compromise to do something that I like and something that could give me a way of living.”

    It’s not easy for a foreigner to be accustomed to the working environment here. “It’s very different between countries. First of all, because of the speed of project, you always have a very short deadline. It’s always hard to deal with this tough thing. And then also called when you are talking, it’s like a big difference between the relationship, between architect and clients. Normally it’s like in Europe, probably there is more dialogue between architects and clients. And sometimes the clients allow architects to have more space in making decision of a project. While in China, most of the time, the clients, they want to control the project all the time. It gets very difficult sometimes to deal with the stronger personalities of those clients. This is very challenging sometimes to deal with the situation. And it’s funny because sometimes, also good situation for clients with good budget allow you to do very nice project and invest a lot of money to do something very good. Not always, just sometimes.“ Even though met with difficulties, he always faces up with his strong adaption and challenging mind. “I have met some difficulties, with clients, with boss, and sometimes there have some very difficult design to do. You just do your best. You just face things. You just step back and keep calm and you find solutions sometimes. Sometimes we have luck and sometimes we just have to do a little bit harder. Every time you achieve something difficult and you learn much more so Im pretty happy about new challenges because they can give you more.”

    Good teacher and helpful friend always present in our life, include Nicola. “I would say Antony Gaudi who has already dead. He is from Spain. I like his work. He is very passion to his work. He was very innovative architect for his time and he was looking forward to the future. He is very free mind, very strong. He did some imaginative project. He is very inspiring, I really like him.” Antony is not just influence him, but inspires his potential. “It’s more than my way of design, my way of thinking. Then finally I don’t design the thing that he did because it’s impossible. It’s the way of your thinking that you can do. You can do whatever you want. You just have to find the way. Sometimes, you have to be brave when you design.”



    Every architects has principles they insist. Chinese architects prefer to combine traditional culture with architecture while Japanese architects pay more attention to environmentally friendly. “I am pretty a fan of two architects. One is MAD. Another one is Wang Shu who is from Hangzhou. I like them it’s not because of the style; it’s because of the way they think the project. I appreciate the investigation they always do when they design the building.” No doubt, Chinese architects bring him a brandnew feeling. “My principle is to make good building. I try to achieve the goals to build something that is useful and it works well for the function that you design for. Not maybe just for present time, also for the farther function that you could do in the future. I also read the sustainable view of the design which is very important when you design something. It had to last for so long and it takes so much energy and so much consumption and begin invest in money. So it’s very important to control the effect of what should do. The effect of building that should design. Not just the building you put it there and it’s over. It’s very important about the life of building, also all aspects of it. I think sometimes, in China, we should focus more on that rather than on the quality of the design in terms of making a very cool and attractive design. Sometimes we just focus more on the quality of the building itself and the economical applicability to last and to have a successful living.

    “’House in Bordeaux’ in France by OMA, which did by the office. It’s one of my favorite design ever. It’s a very conceptual design. It’s actually inspired by other older projects. He wants to declare with his project. He made a sort of position of principles. He built this project which is very challenging. The way he built by himself. It’s a great achievement. It’s very interesting, those structure, the material. It’s pretty amazing.”


    “China invests a lot in architecture. Finally I found out they also invest a lot in quality more than the usage probably. They need to be a little bit more focus on the quality of what they do and the quantity. Nowadays the quality is improving by the quick compared to years ago. And now I feel like people should stop a little bit.” Although suggestions exist in his mind, he is looking forward to the future of China. “I think it’s bright. I think it has a bright future. We have a lot of architects in China coming from everywhere and there is a lot of Chinese people study architecture. What we have to focus on the new generation of course so what they teach them and what they can see because those people they will have luck to learn from the mistakes they have been doing before then and now they would like the resources and capacity, ability to do better. I also feel China is turning a little bit more into a direction which is of course necessary. Finally these things are growing and these comments make them to study more in this field. I think China would have a living position probably in the very next future. About the new technology and sustainable technology futures for their building and I am very curious to see how it’s gonna be after many years.”