On April 4, American designer Charles Sterling delivered a lecture to students from the College of Innovation and Design of Shenzhen Technology University (SZTU) entitled “Unique Chinese Architecture through the Eyes of a Foreign Architect”. He currently holds the position of Design Director at CityGroup Design Co., Ltd.
Group photo [Photo/College of Innovation and Design]
Sterling talks about his hometown and showcases several architectural structures located there. [Photo/College of Innovation and Design]
Mr. Sterling introduced his hometown and recounted his journey to becoming an architect. He briefly analyzed and explained the structures, shapes and materials of the architecture back in his hometown and shared his initial aspiration to become an architect.
Sterling presents some representative buildings in China. [Photo/College of Innovation and Design]
When he arrived in Shanghai for the first time, Mr. Sterling was captivated and awed by numerous aspects of the city, particularly its architecture. The towering skyscrapers made him feel the rapid development of China while ancient architecture like the Palace Museum and the Great Wall left him with different feelings. By showcasing and contrasting contemporary houses and buildings in the United States, he asked the question, “what’s going on here and what’s the soul and spirit?” By discussing the question, Mr Sterling talked about the responsibility and role of designers. He stated that historical sites offer valuable opportunities for learning. By sharing many representative buildings in China including Weilongwu (Hakka round dragon housing), Kaiping watchtowers, arcade-houses in Haikou, Hainan Province, and Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, and Lingnan gardens, he emphasized that instead of simply replicating the past, the most effective approach to preserving it is to learn from it. It’s important to understand the logic and hierarchy of the architecture with significance and seek deeper meanings from it.
Some Charles Sterling’s works [Photo/College of Innovation and Design]
During his presentation, Mr. Sterling showcased several of his notable projects, such as BAI LI YUAN, Yinmachuan, Huangshan Museum, and the Saudi Airlines Headquarters in Riyadh. Through the use of sketches and final renderings, he provided students with a deeper understanding of the design process and the underlying logic behind each building.
The students are attentively listening to the lecture. [Photo/College of Innovation and Design]
In conclusion, Mr. Sterling recommended that designers consider the historical context when creating designs and take a step back. “You should learn how to observe since everything in the world is interconnected,” stated Mr. Sterling during the lecture. Following the lecture, he engaged in a Q&A session with the students to exchange ideas.
Drafted by Chen Yi/College of Innovation and Design
Revised by International Cooperation & Student Affairs Office
Edited by International Cooperation & Student Affairs Office