Upon graduation, New York native Edwin Lam was Beijing-bound for the architecture firm Studio Pei-Zhu. In the past ten months, Lam has contributed to various museum concepts and helped design a church in Ningbo. At Beijing BISS International School, the architect presented his ongoing work in Beijing, including two contemporary art museums, one of which was inspired by the art of Chinese painting and another, a proposal to convert an old television factory. He is also working on a series of schools in the Changping district of Beijing. Armed with photos, a 3-D animation flythrough and scaled models, Lam demonstrated the process an architect goes through, encouraging students to look at buildings in a different light.
Annie Yang, 10, Macau
How long did you go to school to be an architect?
There are many different ways in which you can study to be an architect. I went through a five-year architecture program at Pratt Institute in New York. But you can do a four-year undergrad degree and then get your master’s.
Sarah Chung, 12, South Korea
How do you think of building designs?
One of the basic concepts in designing a building is “form follows function.” The shape of the building comes from what the
building does. As for the Chinese art museum, our basic concept was the idea of where a Chinese painting begins, so we used the idea of an ink stone.
Or you could do “function follows form” and you create the building shape and then you plug in all the programs from there. For the old television factory, we were given a building and we had to transform it into something else. We had to create something that could be switched into all these different programs.
Dong Wan Kim, 12,
What do you use for the interior part of the buildings?
The old factory building is mostly finished concrete. In transforming it into this new beijingkidsmuseum, we are trying to keep the same materials as the old factory.
Dong Yoon, 12, South Korea
How many months does it take to build?
It takes a lot more than a few months. The last project I showed you [of the
television factory that we will transform into a museum], it can take up to five years to get the whole museum working. It takes a long time, because there are lots of other things you need to develop after you build the structure. There is artwork that goes in there and there is a lot of coordination with the city and the artists. But in China, buildings go up faster and can take about two years.
Alex Chung, 12,
How many people can fit in one of the museums you designed?
You can get about 2,000 people in one of the museums. But the people won’t all be looking at the museum; they will be doing different things. They could be eating or they could be shopping.
Intouch, 10, Thailand
Why doesn’t the museum have more electric lights?
In the old television factory, the main hall right now doesn’t have much light. The idea was to raise the ceiling and let light in from the side. The space depends mostly on sunlight. There are a lot of windows so you don’t need to install artificial light. Allowing more sunlight in was a big part of the design.
Ashley Lee, 10, Hong Kong
Is it only a museum?
That’s what’s interesting about this project. The Chinese art museum is a classical museum, but it also offers a lot more. You can go shopping and go to restaurants. There are workshops too, where you can create your own artwork and make your own paintings and sculptures. So it’s not just a museum.
Maurice Zhang, 10, China
Where are the two buildings you showed us?
The buildings are not built yet. We are waiting for the projects to be approved. They are both in Beijing. One will be built next to the Workers’ Stadium and it will be a museum for Chinese paintings. The other one is a proposal for an old television factory back in the 1990s that we’ll convert into a museum, and it is located north of the art district 798.