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2016.04.26 Tue, by
Pavilion of China at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Daily Design, Daily Tao
–Back to the Ignored Front

Duration: May 28th 2016 – Nov. 27th 2016
Opening: 15:00 May 26th 2016

Supported by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and organized by China International Exhibition Agency, the Pavilion of China of 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Architecture Biennale2016, will be open from May 26 until November 27 this year. After strict and careful selection, adjudicators from the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China have chosen Architect Liang Jingyu to curate the exhibition. Artistic director of the Biennale this year, Alejandro Aravena, has selected the theme of the 2016 exhibition “Reporting from the front”, and in response, Liang Jingyu together with several groups of outstanding architects, designers and art teams, have chosen the theme of the Pavilion of China to be, ‘Daily Design, Daily Tao’.
Chinese architecture has been pioneering in the nation’s modernization for the last three decades. However, developments generally focus only on the new ‘futuristic’ frontier where ‘spectacular’ buildings and cities are erected one after another, seldom taking a glance at things passed by: ancient traditions and day-to-day living. The theme, Daily Design, Daily Tao, focuses this year’s Pavilion of China exhibition on the largely ignored values that inform a quality of design that is at once local, abstemious and responsible.
This year’s exhibition will be located in the Pavilion of China as well as the neighboring Virgin Garden, where the exhibitors are of nine organizations including amongst them architects, landscape architects, fashion designers and artists:

Approach Architecture Studio,
People’s Architecture Office
Rùn Atelier
View Unlimited LA
Jingxiang ZHU
Jing ZUO.

Under the title of Daily Design, Daily Tao, exhibition work covers three themes of daily life: clothing, food and shelter.

In addition to the Venice exhibition, travelling exhibitions will be held in various other cities, in which case studies and works consistent with the theme will be found and explored. While all exhibitors will participate and share their ideas, local architects, designers and artists from each city will also take part. Meanwhile, during the six-months’ exhibition period, there will be student workshops which gather students to work together under the framework of the exhibition theme. Through text, images, video, etc., these will be presented in the subsequent exhibitions and publications.


I am proud to introduce the Chinese Pavilion 2016 Exhibition to our international audience. Daily Design, Daily Tao: the vision of our glorious history and remaining wisdom. Without a doubt, it represents very bright and lasting potential.

Our ancient Chinese concept of Tao is an active and holistic conception of Nature. Tao can be roughly thought of as the flow of the universe, or as some essence or pattern behind the natural world that keeps the universe balanced and ordered.

Daily Design follows Daily Tao: It pleases us in our daily lives not by introducing a new future to replace past, but by refining what has gone before, integrating lasting values of history into our daily lives. It does not disrupt, but instead it mediates between old and new values and it makes good design accessible to the majority in their day-to-day lives. Daily Design, like Daily Tao asks that designers act abstemiously and responsibly in the present, in order to pave the way for a bright future.

We, human beings, make mistakes. One of the mistakes we make is that we believe in the concept of ‘future’. We assume a modernized ‘future’ can solve problems caused by our wrongdoings in the ‘past’. We are not satisfied in the ‘present’ due to our limited abilities and unlimited desires. We hope the modernized future will bring us more power and more resources, in order to make our lives better.

We constantly search for a new future to supersede the imperfect past. In fact, while a‘ future’ may temporarily replace the past, it doesn’t always last. To live in the present is the mindful way and the present recognizes only the things that last.

Whether we noticed it or not, while claiming victories for spectacular modernization, we are losing our historic identity. First vanished were our ancient cultural traditions and lifestyle, then the city walls. Relatively recently, numerous and wide areas of historic towns and cities have been destroyed. Today, even the most remote villages are coveted by investors seeking to modernize.

People may say that these losses are only felt by the cultural conservatives. One century ago, founders of the New Culture Movement, and their successors today, have considered the shedding of traditional culture necessary for the nation’s successful advancement. The traditions we have lost may seem to some as dispensable, but no matter which side you take, the consequences of this rapid development are unbearable: climate change; depleted natural resources; and increasing polarization of the rich and poor.

Daily design focuses on the challenges that are too often ignored, the ‘ignored frontier’– dignity, welfare and equality. These are more urgent issues than riding great leaps of futuristic development: improving basic living conditions for the poor –rather than improving the affairs of the rich; decreasing waste – rather than producing more; ceasing pollution of air, water and food – rather than focusing on increasing the speed of traffic, while rapidly increasing the size of each city.

The great thinker Wang Yangming (1472-1529) explained the most well known Confucian term ‘Ge Wu Zhi Zhi’ as ‘By living away from material, one can know truth.’ So, what is the truth of the problems we are facing?– Materialism. The endless craving for materialistic desires causes crises for resources and for the environment. The fetish for advanced technologies misleads us into thinking such crises can be solved before it is too late. Thus, the initial motivation for modernization is substituted for the search for technological development. Although almost every time we celebrate a new step in technological advancement, it seems we create more complicated consequences.

Looking back at our history, generation after generation we find that our great ancestors have been telling us the truth all along: Live abstemiously, yet be awed by nature. This is what we need to do today to cure the trauma of the earth and its inhabitants. So how can we return to these values after, for decades, we have chosen to abandon them and embrace materialism?

Confucian Wang Geng (1483-1541), is Master Wang Yangming’s student. He believes the truth of life is within life. Daily Tao exists in the daily lives. In fact he said, “Daily Tao is daily life”. It is true that many old towns and villages as well as traditional architectures are disappearing, but Tao is not. It is still in our people’s daily lives.

In the book Lius Commentaries of History, 239 BCE, author Lu Buwei(292-235 BCE) said: “The key of everything begins with self-regulating. The world can only be regulated when everyone has been; cure the self, then the world is cured. If you want to solve the problems of the world, focus on yourself.”

Daily design is to learn and find the lasting ancient wisdoms through today’s day-to-day life. By doing so we re-establish our cultural traditions, the backbone of sustainable development. Let design serve the ordinary majority. This is the ignored front of architecture we cannot afford to ignore. Only when we return to the serve the majority of people, can architecture and design resume the original idealities of modernization.

In other words, Daily Design means giving up self-stylish aspirations and private motivations. It provides quality design, professionally. It specifically applauds the endeavors which require:

Being Local: applying mostly local material, craftsmanship and labor, while respecting local traditions and responding to local site context.

Being Abstemious: the cost of the building is affordable to nature and to ordinary people.

Being Responsible: the solution to one problem does not cause more problems. Instead, it inspires and supports us in the challenges we are facing everywhere: environmental issues and difficult living conditions in the city and rural areas.

In the current Chinese context such Daily Design works are awfully rare, compared to the overwhelming number of ‘spectacular’ modern buildings in China today.

How do we serve ordinary, majority of people better? – The Pavilion of China exhibitors and their work can inspire us to return to the daily life: find the Tao through our tradition.

LIANG Jingyu
Curator of The Pavilion of China
15th International Architecture Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia


Supporter: Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China
Commissioner: China Arts & Entertainment Group(CAEG)
Organizer: China International Exhibition Agency

Pavilion of China Team:
Curator: LIANG Jingyu
Exhibitors: Approach Architecture Studio, MA Ke, People’s Architecture Office, Rùn Atelier, SONG Qun, WANG Lu, View Unlimited, Landscape Architecture Studio,CUCD, ZHU Jingxiang, ZUO Jing
Visual Design: IKONDESIGN
Exhibition Design: Approach Architecture Studio + View Unlimited Landscape Architecture Studio, CUCD
Official Partners: AkzoNobel, HEMPEL INTERNATIONAL, Ningbo Wansheng Investment Co.,Ltd
Strategy Media Partner: Domus China
International Media Partner: ArchDaily
Associated Media: World Architecture, FTChinese.com, artnet, LEAP, CHINA LIFE MAGAZINE, art.ifeng.com, BAZAAR ART, randian, ART ABSOLUTE, Scope


Mr. Jingyu Liang was born in Jiangxi Province, People’s Republic of China, 1969.

Mr. Jingyu Liang is the principal architect of Approach Architecture Studio in Beijing. He was first known for his award-winning art museum and gallery projects. Impressed by the book Shelter by Lloyd Kahn, 1973, he translated it to Chinese(published in 2009). In 2010, he converted to Buddhism and from 2010 to 2013, LIANG Jingyu acted as chief planner, masterminding the extraordinary urban conservation and regeneration plan for Dashilar, an ancient and historic quarter of central Beijing. At present, LIANG Jingyu is the professor of Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture and design studio tutor of Tsinghua University. His areas of research include Chinese traditional dwelling culture, Gandhian economics, Asian natural farming, perma culture, and Amish life style.

Liang works and lives in Beijing and Vancouver.