For Chinese architecture students, the Porto School of Architecture hosted by Siza seems to be mysterious. I visited your school， the white campus designed by Siza is located on a hillside away from the downtown area embeded with a special quiet secret garden. How to evaluate the influence of space poetry and divinity ?
A: 场所的诗意和神性对我产生最大影响的时期是我在波尔图建筑学院（下称波键院）第二年做项目时体会到的。在大学二年级，波建院的学生有门课程是关于Carlos Ramo，那是一个在建校之前就隐秘在秘密花园里的一个教学空间（波建院有一个绿树成荫的后花园）。这个建筑物被设计成看起来像拥抱一棵树的形式。这个建筑的每一间教室都可以看到窗外点缀着鲜花的茵茵绿地和树林，其中有六间教室，每层三间。我在二层的中间教室上过课，秋天我可以在教室里看着落叶，冬天能感受到从建筑物侧翼的空隙窜出的阳光，到了春天能看到绿草又生出来，这景象生机勃勃令人激动，这样的环境对我那年的课程设计有很大的影响。回忆起那年，每当我遇到瓶颈的时候，我不知所措的时候，我就会逃离，去这个小花园尽头里的凉亭，在那里静静观察整个波建院和Arrábida桥，并且陷入思考。
I would say that the time in which the poetry and divinity of the space most influenced me was on my second year of Project in FAUP. On the second year of University, FAUP (Faculty of Architecture of University of Porto) students have classes on the Carlos Ramos pavilion, a building integrated into the special secret garden, which already existed before the construction of the school. The building was designed in a way that it looks like is hugging a big tree. The green grass, with some flowers and trees are seen from every classroom of this building, divided into 6 classrooms, 3 in each floor. I had classes in the middle room on the upper floor, and the fact that during the year I could see the leaves falling in Autumn, I could feel the sun during winter coming from in-between the branches and during Spring I could witness the new green leaves, with all of its life coming up, it was amazing, and had a big importance on the courses I did that year. During all of the other years, every time I felt stucked with a project, when I couldn’t understand how to solve a problem, I would go to this garden, and to the gazebo at the end of the garden, from where it is possible to gaze at all of FAUP and Arrábida’s bridge, to think.
I heard that many of the extracurricular activities that students often do around campus are sketching . Can you tell me what details of the building make you impressed?
So, on the first two years in my school, it is mandatory to work only on paper, never on computer, and we also have compulsory drawing classes. On the first year we have 8 hours per week, and on the second year, 4 hours. One of the major subjects we draw on the first year is the school, as it has a lot of particular characteristics, like for example the main corridor, that in one of the ends fits 3 people next to each other walking, and on the other end only barely fits. Another detail of the school that I love is the library, of course. The way constant light is created, without the feel of being inside a closed space is really interesting, and the fact that the space where the architectural magazines are stored has a mezzanine opening towards the entrance of the library creates a feeling of being both in a quiet space and in a space with a lot of movement.
I heard that Siza has already started sketching before he has been to the project site. What kind of teacher is Siza? What is the moment you are impressed in his class, and how does he affect you in your process to be a future architect?
I’ve been to some classes in Porto, and once he went to my Construction class because he wanted to see some of the chairs, to see which ones needed to be replaced, but he was never my teacher in a course. Anyway, I feel that my entire path as a student was greatly influenced by Siza, both because of the school and the way he projected every single detail, from the windows to the chairs, and also because of his written works I read during university. We also travelled during university to some of his buildings, and others I visited them later and again. I feel that there is a lot to be learned in the way he designs, and also in the simplicity he shows when talking about his projects.
For architecture, aesthetics sensitivity are important. What kind of design studio have you set up for enlightenment education?
For me one course that was really important in University was Theory of the third year. The teacher is a little bit intimidating, because he knows a lot, but I feel that after that course I could understand better what architecture was, and what role the architects can play in the world. In the theoretical part of the course, the teacher talked about different architects, the things they defended and some of their works. On the practical part of the course, we would develop the study of a particular architect or subject, and explore it through books and magazines. For me, this course changed the way I understood architecture and influenced me up until today.
A very unique point is that Siza does not advocate the use of 3D modeling and rendering to express the design results. Siza said that a good architect should work slowly. Let’s talk about what kind of design strategy could be called slow?
In FAUP, project course (like design studio) is a course that takes one year, and that is developed individually. We are pushed to work from a city scale until constructive details, such as the windows and the doors. I would say that a slow strategy would be one that would allow the project to “breathe”. In my school students are pushed to talk to each other and discuss their projects together, because it allows us to see another point of view, another perspective on the project. After one year of the same project, it may feel that we’re tired of the same program, but it is when we dominate the place, the program and the restrictions, that the best projects arrive.