A Philosophy of Chinese Architecture: Past, Present, Future

Writing is often thought of as a sit-down, no-distractions type of task. David Wang, a Washington State University architecture professor, says it is more like running a marathon. Wang has recently published his book A Philosophy of Chinese Architecture: Past, Present, Future (Routledge, 2017). The book examines the impact of Chinese philosophy on China’s historic and modern architecture. It comes out of Wang’s many years of teaching about European and Chinese philosophies and their impact on architecture and material culture.

“The message the readers will take away from the book is that we need to respect the past,” said Wang. “We shouldn’t reject it, but adapt it for present purposes.”

Wang spent a year and a half writing the book. Several chapter sections were written in China, where Wang taught and traveled while the manuscript was in progress. As in the case of marathon running, he said, “you have to be in shape, be comfortable with being alone, have discipline, and have a plan.”

Wang’s rule of thumb is to devote a minimum of two hours per day in writing. Wang has previously co-authored Architectural Research Methods (Wiley 2002, second edition 2013) which is used in design research classes around the world. He is editor of Sounding Spokane: Perspectives on the Built Environment of a Regional City (EWU Press, 2003). He has published on architectural theory and research methods in numerous journals.

He is under contract to write another book, Architecture and Sacrament: A Critical Theory (also with Routledge). “To write well, you must know your subject, your audience, and what you want to say,” he said.  As he prepares to write his next book, Wang trains and stays in writing shape by taking on different projects.

Over the summer he is writing articles for a Chinese architecture journal, a Norwegian design journal, and co-authoring an article with a colleague for a landscape design journal. “It’s good to write for a variety of outlets, and at various lengths,” he said. .
“For any chapter that I have written that has been published, it has been rewritten about 20 to 30 times,” said Wang. “Writing a book is a labor of love. One of my biggest rewards is seeing my writing published.”

Written by Erik Gomez, VCEA Communications Intern (August 2017)

David Wang