YU Kongjian - Introduction

Portrait of YU Kongjian
YU Kongjian © 2008

A designer, writer, educator and advocate of landscape architecture, Dr. YU Kongjian has been endeavoring to establish a whole new system in Chinese contemporary landscape design, from its practice, education and theory, to its public reception. He is the founder of Turenscape (1998) and the Graduate School of Landscape Architecture at Beijing University (2003). In recent years, he has lectured worldwide and the design of his firm won national and international recognition. After having taught 5 years in Beijing Forestry University, YU Kongjian was exposed to contemporary landscape architecture in America during his doctoral study at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) in 1992–95 and his practice with Sasaki and Walk Associates (SWA) in 1995–97. All these experiences lay the foundation for his re-emergence as a leading figure of contemporary Chinese landscape architecture after his return to China in 1997.

Then and now, YU Kongjian is first and foremost a person deeply immersed in Chinese landscape culture, a man firmly tied to the land (as indicated by the name and mission statement of his firm-Turen ["Earthman" in Chinese]). It is this aspect that enabled him to bridge McHargian environmental planning and the time-honored Chinese feng-shuitradition, to develop computer GIS landscape security pattern analysis into a body of thinking that concerns both the sustainability of nature and culture, which he termed as "the art of survival". Over the years, his criticism about rational planning, urban beautification and literati gardens has raised much controversy, as part of the unsettling Chinese debate upon modernization /westernization /tradition since the dawn of the 20th century. The trajectory of his exploration provides excellent examples for the reexamination of landscape architecture as a modern discipline, as well as the adaptation of Western modes of design practice in non-Western societies. His work not only is proven to be extremely valuable to contemporary China, but also enriches, in a broader sense, the thinking about designed landscapes in an age of globalization.

Materials featured in the collection

Materials are in Chinese and English. Entries to the collection include YU Kongjian's personal papers, publications by/about his office TurenScape, and design documents of 11 projects:

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