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AR_EA China: WAI Architecture Think Tank


Who are you?
We are WAI Architecture Think Tank, a workshop for architectural intelligentsia practicing architecture, urbanism and architectural research founded by Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski 

Where are you based?
WAI is based in Beijing since 2009

Where do you come from?
Cruz Garcia comes from Puerto Rico and Nathalie Frankowski comes from France

Why did you become architects?
We were interested in making a better future and contributing to the conceptualization and construction of a better world.

What kind of work do you do?
WAI aims to contribute to the collective intelligence of architecture from a critico-panoramic approach, from the publication of groundbreaking research and manifestoes, to the curation of exhibitions and events, and the design of intelligent buildings and masterplans. Part of WAI’s ethos consists on developing tools and strategies that could unleash the potential of architecture.

What is it like being an architect where you are?
Beijing is a frenzied city that reflects and fuels our multidirectional approach.  Under a vertiginous process of modernization, the city opens its doors to lasting contributions that could enrich and alter its future. Its ever changing environment allows us to develop multiple tools to rethink our relationship to the city, while maintaining a constant and critical gaze to world around us.

What is the context (social, political, architectural) in which you are working?
Based in Beijing, WAI sees the world as a platform full of challenges and opportunities. In that sense, no social, political, or architectural problem is exclusive to a place. WAI aims to develop strategies that reflect on current conditions while projecting future alternatives.

What inspires you these days?
Artists, thinkers, architects that remain critical and don’t compromise their values for momentary trends, political convenience, or economic opportunity.

What project are you most proud of and why?
We are proud of pursuing our values through our practice as a whole. Since early in our career we have been fully engage in the development of a long term project of architecture.  


WAI’s proposal for the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow

What is unique about your work?
WAI’s work doesn’t aim to be different. It feeds from architecture’s previous achievement and failures in order to create critical projects.

What is your favourite building material or building technique?

How do you get ideas?
Reading literature, viewing at art, watching film, listening to philosophy, having a conversation, looking at life.

What are your favourite design tools (models, hand drawing, digital 3D modeling, SketchUp, etc.)?
Every tool offers different potential and possibilities. WAI works with tools oscillate from pure text, to collages, and animations.

What would be your ideal project?
A project that solves the problem of poverty and deals directly with segregation and class struggle.

Where do you hope to go from here? 
We hope to keep contributing to the collective intelligence of architecture, remain critical and be able to create spaces that empower and enrich people’s lives.     

What do you want to be remembered for?
We would like to focus on the work we can make while we are here. Remembering implies that we are not here anymore. 

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