MovingCities interviews Dutch architect John van de Water – NEXT ARCHITECTS China – about his book “You can’t change China, China changes you” [010 publisher, 2012]. The book is a a formidable page-turner telling the story of a three-year long architectural discovery in and of China. In the interviews John van de Water talks about his motives to write the book, to come and a set-up office in China, the tension he feels between a Dutch/Western and a Chinese approach to architecture and talks about the discovery and rethinking of two basic design parameters that are related to the limits of architectural design in China.
First of all it is a shortcoming of western architects to think that we are equipped to provide solutions to answers. Chinese architects provide possibilities and western architects provide solutions. The second shortcoming is that we always want to change. [...] We tend to think that we can make flexible buildings, but Chinese people are able to make much more flexible buildings than we are. They incorporate such capacity for change. We tend to make flexible buildings that are completely inflexible and where the design process is completely inflexible, as it is rational and linear. You cannot change one part within this process because then the whole process start becoming chaotic and irrational and the consistency is gone.