OTTAWA, October 23, 2015 – The Chinese architect who won Canada’s biggest architecture prize for a library that has transformed a village will give a public lecture in Montreal on November 2.
Li Xiaodong, of Beijing, became the first recipient of the RAIC Moriyama International Prize last year. The CAD $100,000 prize was established by the distinguished Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama, of Toronto, and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).
One of the most generous architectural prizes in the world, the Moriyama RAIC International Prize is awarded to a building that is judged to be transformative within its societal context and expressive of the humanistic values of justice, respect, equality and inclusiveness. It is open to all architects, irrespective of nationality and location. It recognizes a single work of architecture, as opposed to a life’s work, and celebrates buildings in use.
The English-language lecture takes place on Monday, November 2 at 6.00 p.m. at McGill University, MacDonald-Harrington Building, 815 Sherbrooke St. West, Room G-10. Admission is free, but seating is limited. The lecture is hosted by the McGill University School of Architecture Autumn Lecture Series.
“The lecture will provide a deeper understanding of the philosophy of this young visionary,” says Barry Johns, FRAIC, Chancellor of the RAIC College of Fellows. “We hope that the audience will connect with the inspired work of this international architect.”
Mr. Li will discuss his work philosophy and ideas for the future as well as his prize-winning Liyuan Library in Jiaojiehe village near Beijing.
Designed to improve the quality of life in a poor community, the low-cost and environmentally sensitive library opened in 2012. In addition to providing a place for reading and learning, the library has become a tourist attraction and source of income for the village.
The structure is built of glass and steel. Sticks and twigs from the surrounding forest cover the exterior. Inside, the library consists of one large room with stepped platforms that lead to elevated seating areas. In winter, the library is heated by the sun. In the summer, it is cooled by water from the lake next to it.
“This project is about the relationship of a building to its surroundings and its role in serving the community, rather than a building as a discrete object,” says Mr. Li.
“An architect's duty is to search and create the highest order for human environments,” he adds.
The lecture is part of the Moriyama RAIC International Prize Illumination Lecture Series. Mr. Li will also speak in Toronto on October 29. The lectures are being recorded and will be available to a broader audience on the Internet.
The lecture series is intended to grow into a digital library of Moriyama RAIC International Prize winners, to promote the education of future architects and increase exposure of the prize. The next Moriyama RAIC International Prize will be awarded in 2017.
About Li Xiaodong
Li Xiaodong (born 1963,) is a practicing architect, educator and researcher in architecture. He established Li Xiaodong Atelier in 1997, and his work ranges from interiors to architecture and urban spaces. Currently, he is chair/professor at the School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, in Beijing.
Mr. Li graduated from the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University in 1984. He completed his Ph.D. at the School of Architecture at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands in 1993.
His work has won national and international design awards, including a 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture for Bridge School in Fujian Province. In 2011, he was named Man of the Year by GQ China magazine.
His articles and books cover cultural studies, history and theory of architecture, and urban studies.
“What I am trying to do in my own practice might be described as reflexive regionalism,” he says. “It’s more about identifying original conditions than inventing original forms. It’s about combining technology, community, local materials, modern thinking and a traditional sense of identity.”
About the RAIC
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada is the leading voice of architecture in Canada, representing about 5,000 members. The RAIC advocates for excellence in the built environment, works to demonstrate how design enhances the quality of life and promotes responsible architecture in addressing important issues of society.