Hu Fang: Towards a Non-intentional Space Vol. I (English version)

Hu Fang: Towards a Non-intentional Space Vol. I (English version)

Essay: Hu Fang
Published by Walther König & The Pavilion
Essay book: 19 x 13.2 cm, 182pages
Model book: 10 x 13 cm, 28pages
Year: 2016

Inspired by the natural and traditional characteristics of the surrounding villages, the Mirrored Gardens project seeks to merge with its environment to construct a “nature” where contemporary art practices, daily life and farming-oriented life practices can be nurtured and cultivated in tandem.


The architecture of Mirrored Gardens is designed by Sou Fujimoto. The primary questions driving this project are:


How can art and agriculture complement each other?


Can we create a space between landscape and architecture?


How can a contemporary art space fit naturally into a rural context?


Written by Hu Fang, Towards a Non-intentional Architecture reflects upon the research and thinking process of building Mirrored Gardens, along with the architectural design and construction process. These processes were informed by visits to Chinese gardens and Japanese Zen gardens, and the studying of permaculture practices that encourage us to re-acknowledge the energies that enable us to sense and connect with the system of the universe through daily contact with it, and push further questions about how to look at the architectural bodies of cultural institutions in our time.













0.0 Preface: Abandoned Sites


1.1 Abandoned Garden (Now)

1.2 Unseen, Unbuilt

1.3 Village and City

1.4 A Temporary Home


2.1 Soilless Trees and Drifting Land

2.2 The Door to Slow Sunset

2.3 Rocks and Rice


3.1 Why We Look at Plants ()

3.2 The Path to Krameterhof

3.3 If There is Soil

3.4 Gardens Await


4.1 Garden Conversation

4.2 Those Things Beyond Our Intent

4.3 Farming Architecture

4.4 Model and Reality

4.5 Forgotten in Mountain and Water


5.0 Postscript: Return




Forgetting Each Other in Mountains and Water


More than a physical formation of the landscape, the topography here should be understood as being part of a cultural topology, which allows us to imagine the potential for a “homeopathic architecture” (an architecture that conforms to the gravity of the earth and the human scale of perception).


Spring water, rain water, ground water; drinking, recycling, filtration, purification, irrigation – the aquatic ecosystem here is not oriented toward scenery, and is instead part of an energy cycle. In the same way that delta areas have always nurtured the development of civilizations, the pleasure of being close to water comes precisely from the transparency of the life source: with time, we grow intimate with the resources that nurture human life.


Also, as far as possible, the air here is neither blocked nor filtered by artificial mechanical systems; the question today is whether we can still breathe without such artificial control. As a condition for human existence, air is becoming increasingly conditional: clean air is no longer a public right, as capital controls access to fresh air (see the advertisements for air purifiers, for example). In the near future, people may have to pay for air (just as we have grown accustomed to buying water). The invention of air conditioning transformed the way we breathe in our daily lives, and the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk has traced this change to the use of chemical weapons in World War I – the first time in history that air was used to control and take life. If we say that human existence is in a sense immersed in air, then could the architecture here allow people to truly immerse themselves within its climate?


Or, when we discuss the perception of light here, we are also concerned with the night and its disappearance in urban space – how can we preserve the darkness here?


Numerous models were produced in the process of conceptualizing “Mirrored Gardens,” including spatial models and conceptual models which apply not only to here but also to elsewhere, not only to the farm, village or nearby city, but also to mountains, rivers and ancient gardens. Were it to be viewed from the stars, “Mirrored Gardens” might be only a small point in the complex body system of the earth, but just like a point in the meridian system of the body, it connects the flows of different kinds of energy. And while the purpose of these energy flows is not necessarily clear, they contain both the aspiration of life and the indifference of death.  


If shānshuĭ is itself a conceptual model of the universe, the Chinese landscape painting an eternal capturing of momentary fluxes in the energy of the universe, and the Chinese garden an archetypal space of landscape in the earthly realm, then perhaps what is ultimately pursued through the space represented by the garden is not the realization of a material space that simulates mountain and water, but rather a space that allows people to be forgotten in the landscape, to spend time together in the world.    



About Hu Fang

Hu Fang, a fiction writer, art critic, works and lives in Guangzhou, China. His recent books include: Dear Navigator (Fiction, Sternberg Press, English) and Towards a Non-intentional Space (Essay, Koenig Books, London, English).


Image and Text: the shop, ©Authors, the shop, 2019


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