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EDITORIAL

EPIFANIO RECOMMENDS

INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER ORR
August Künnapu

INTERVIEW WITH
CHI TI-NAN

Vilen Künnapu

THE LOST WORLD OF MAYA
Mathura

HARRY PYE’s POSTCARD FROM LONDON
Harry Pye

TO SEE NAPLES AND DIE...
Mehis Heinsaar

OCTAGONAL FOUNTAIN
Vilen Künnapu

TEAM

Interview with Chi Ti-Nan

The conversation with the Architect-Artist and Vilen Künnapu took place in the canteen of Tallinn Technical College of Engineering in November 2007

V.K.: Chi, who are you?
C.T.-N.: In what sense?

V.K.: Are you a human being, are you an elephant, are you a ghost, are you a god or a demon?
C.T.-N.: I am more of a common person. Eating is very important to me.

V.K.: You live in China. How is life in China?
C.T.-N.: China is a place where you can always understand human beings. When you have so many people, then you can understand the situation of human beings. When you live in a small country, where you don’t have so many people, the problems are different. The problems in China show the essence of a human being better. Understanding human beings helps architecture.

V.K.: We have spoken before that the architecture in the world is changing now towards spirituality like it has been for thousands of years. How is your work in that field, how do you feel about traditions, urban acupuncture, etc?
C.T.-N.: For me, it is a very simple idea. To change is to go back to normal. That is not a tradition, but a connection with nature. You can say it is spirituality, you can say it is culture.

Chi Ti-Nan. Jeng’s Studio & Residence. Model, Kaoshiung, Taiwan, 1995.

V.K.: Do you believe in God or Higher Power? Or what do you believe in?
C.T.-N.: There are spirits in the universe – good spirits and bad spirits. Some good spirits could be God. And bad spirits are ghosts. That’s it.

V.K.: Do you believe in reincarnation?
C.T.-N.: I’m not sure about that. Reincarnation is a religious way to control the legacy. But it could be true.

Chi Ti-Nan. Great Wall Project,
1st Shengzen Architectural Biennial, China, 2005.

V.K.: We were speaking today about traditional medicine and so-called modernistic medicine with pills. People are tired of eating artistic and architectural medicine and pills, we want something else, like it was long time ago. How big is the number of artists, architects and teachers, who are working in the new direction? Please comment the change in culture, science and medicine.
C.T.-N.: Actually, this way has never died. It should be just more practiced in the future.

V.K.: Marco Casagrande once said, ”The dictatorship of sensibility has begun”. Also you look like a revolutionary with your Maoist slogans in the “Future Pavilion” in Kaohsiung in Taiwan Design Expo 2005.
C.T.-N.: The people can make the change quicker if they do something.

V.K.: What impressions do you have about the architecture in Tallinn?
C.T.-N.: I see the architecture in Tallinn quite strong in a way. I can see the architects here are trying to do something. That’s not so common. For example in the White Gothic Building (Complex of houses in Rotermann’s Quarter by architectural bureau Kosmos – ed.) I can feel some intensions to create something. In your Methodist Church, I liked the tower and the vertical axis to the stars. It is the same idea that was in your Arctic Centre in Finland. It is a very ancient idea, but no-one has used it in nowadays architecture.

Chi Ti-Nan, Chang Yung-Ho, Tan Kay Ngee.
Installation with Chi’s signature, Ker Da Ker Xiao Exhibition,
Architectural Association Gallery, London, 1998.

Tallinn Technical College of Engineering,
student’s workshop on Micro-Urbanism. Supervisor:
Chi Ti-Nan. Tallinn City Hall, 2007.

V.K.: What is your fresh glimpse to Estonia and Estonians? Is it something in between the western arrogance and eastern relaxed minds?
C.T.-N.: For example the students of the Tallinn Technical College of Engineering (Chi Ti-Nan held a workshop for architectural students in November 2007 – ed.) are very different. They don’t necessarily listen to you. In China they listen to you without a question – may-be they don’t agree with you, but they don’t show it. The students in Estonia seem to have their own decisions.

V.K.: Maybe you would like to ask something from me?
C.T.-N.: Please talk about the idea of a shaman.

V.K.: Shaman is a sensitive person who can heal. He is like a doctor who can also do a lot of different things – predict certain situations, weather, etc. I prefer priests who have straight connections with God.
C.T.-N.: But shamans have that too.
V.K.: Shamans are more practical. Priests are channels between people and God. Architects could also be like shamans or priests bringing cosmic energy to the buildings. That energy can also heal people. Louis Kahn is a good example.

V.K.: In the end please tell me about weather. How is weather in Beijing, how is weather in Bergen (Chi is currently teaching in the Bergen School of Architecture, Norway – ed.), how is weather in Tallinn?
C.T.-N.: Beijing is very dry, sometimes very windy. In Bergen it rains a lot. But Tallinn is very nice. It is a city with good energy.

Tallinn Technical College of Engineering, student’s workshop on Micro-Urbanism. Supervisor: Chi Ti-Nan. Tallinn City Hall, 2007.

 

Chi Ti-Nan

Born in Taiwan, 1957. Studied architecture in Tunghai University, Taiwan, and Yale University, U.S.A. (among others, the living classic Frank Gehry was his teacher).
Established his own office Chi’s Workshop, 1993 and Chi Ti-Nan Architects in Beijing, 2004. Chi Ti-Nan is considered one of the most innovative architects in Asia.
His projects include cultural establishments, public squares, houses and business buildings, urban planning and interior design. Chi has advised cities of Nanjing and
Shenzhen, China; Kolhapur, India; Brussels, Belgium; Pittsburgh, U.S.A. and Liverpool, U.K. Since 1999 leads the workshops called Urban Flashes, which search new perspectives to the development of different cities. Chi has taught in Tunghai University; Buffalo University, N.Y.; Sinhgad College, India and currently in the Bergen School of Architecture, Norway.

See also www.chitinan.net and www.microurbanism.net.