Established in 2007, Integrated Architecture Studio relies on the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and the technology platform of the Institute of Architectural Design and Planning, both at the Nanjing University. Fu Xiao, the studio’s founder and director, has been teaching at the school, since the same year. Born in Chongqing, China in 1973, one year after the final moon landing of the Apollo 17, Fu Xiao adopts in his designs a visual language that reflects the style experimented with in architecture during the heroic years of the NASA Apollo programme.
Like a trip through outer space, the drawings produced by the Chinese architect bear connections to the dizzying manner of representation adopted by the American architect Paul Rudolph, and to an era when perspectival cross sections acted like narrative epics through dimensions and systems. The explanation why a similar approach is pursued with such rigour by a Chinese architect born in the early 1970s becomes apparent when observing his architecture. Compositional details are as familiar as they are unusual in the fluidity of shapes that today’s expressions of contemporaneity have in common.
Geometric cuts, off-set planes and monumental emphasis are democratically distributed between buildings and spaces designed by Fu Xiao. They remind us of modernism’s succession of phases and how they are made up of small fragments and suggestions, sometimes associable with a well-defined figure such as Louis Kahn, Mario Botta or Álvaro Siza. Paradoxically, it might be the possibility of recognising similar memories in his kaleidoscope of signs that constitutes the clearest element of originality of Fu Xiao’s architecture.
This distinguishing datum is accompanied by three other aspects of his practice: sustainability, architecture as a social space, and design interaction with the research of his students. All these are present in the Changxing television station (2009), the office complex Zidong International Investment Service Centre in Nanjing (2011), the Science and Technology Museum for International Horticultural Expositions in Qingdao (2014), and the Huilongshan kindergarten in Changxing (2017).