Han Xiaofeng, Peony Pavilion. Installation view at Palazzo Mora, 2016.

Photo: Patricia Parinejad

Time Space Existence - Biennale Architettura 2016

Time Space Existence - Biennale Architettura 2016

Peony Pavilion
“The root of beginning a design of wooden structures is actually a very simple will. I wish that the inner, natural, warm quality of wood touches an individual’s perception of daily life.”
— Han Xiaofeng
Why Wood?
In the most Chinese people’s mind, wood is still a very traditional material whose time is over. From the beginning of the National economic reform in the 1980's, economic development affected everyone everywhere. In the field of Architectural design, a lot of new materials were engaged in the building construction. The concrete forest has been made in many cities. So far, the high-resource-consumption development has had a tremendous negative effect. From a biological perspective, trees are organic matter. More or less, we even can believe that trees are a kind of machine that can transform the polluted gas into wood material and emit oxygen. So, we believe that wood is a hundred percent natural, green, and pollutant-free material. The annual ring in the tree is the record of the natural environment during every tree’s life period. The color of the annual ring tells the information of the temperature and humidity of every year. Nature is recorded by trees. That is the reason that the wood texture is always very warm.
I wish that the inner, natural warm quality of wood can touch individuals’ perception of daily life.
Wood Products
Manufacturing factories are working on the natural raw material, which will be transformed into certain kinds of manmade materials. Contrasted with other materials, wood should also have a strong advantage. The whole process of wooden manufacturing is highly efficient without waste or pollution. What’s more, further manufacturing of wood can be completely prefabricated in the factory.
If you have a discerning mind, you can easily find that a lot of daily products were made by wood.
For thousands, Chinese architectural civilization is a history of wooden arts. Yingzafashi and Mujing are the typical example of an ancient practice in book printing from long ago. The most ancient wooden tower, named Yingxian County Wood Tower, has stood extant for over 1000 years. So, wood culture has become a Chinese cultural gene in every Chinese person.
The wood structure system and the small-scale wood enclosure in the ancient Chinese buildings, and a lot of the wood instruments used in the daily life, have deep connection with ancient Chinese society. Only wood has this cultural character.
Peony Pavilion
I chose wood as the material for this instillation due to my interest in Chinese culture and building materials.
For this installation in the 2016 Venice Biennale, the great challenge is how to transform traditional wood material into a tiny modern structure.
Peony pavilion expresses the structural and spatial beauty of a pavilion, which is one type of building in a Chinese Garden. The wood elements were connected by the Tenon and mortise joints. Wooden sticks express the structural beauty. These special design languages made the installation very attractive. Peony pavilion is the name of a most famous Chinese “Qunku” which was spread beginning in the Ming dynasty. So, the most interesting thing is the mixture of Chinese culture and a physical modern wood pavilion. I hope it can touch every visitor.


  • Title: Han Xiaofeng, Peony Pavilion. Installation view at Palazzo Mora, 2016.
  • Creator: Photo: Patricia Parinejad

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