Bing Thom

I emigrated to Canada in the 1950s, relocating from Hong Kong to Vancouver. The first time I returned to China it was with a back-pack in 1972, a time when travel to China was unusual. This experience was highly political and influential at the time - travelling third-class in the hulls of decrepit old boats, in bunks alongside 200 others, just after the Cultural Revolution.

After working in China and the USA, I've come to conclude that Canada is still a wonderful place to raise your children, but we certainly could use a dose of nationalism. We have to allow the essence of our culture and values to be expressed through architecture… And so when I make architecture, I reflect on our current environment where you have global forces; you have steel and concrete and glass everywhere, so I ask: how do you use local material? How do you create a local patina? How do you sustain the local craftsmen?

I believe that it's the gap between on and off in a binary system where creativity is actually located. We might say that this kind of holistic thinking is rather Asian in that we can live in a world of contradictions. And so, perhaps the architecture that I produce speaks to this idea. Architecture is in many ways infinite. The community comes into the building and the building extends back out into the community.

Source: Canadian Architect, RAIC Gold Medal 2011 edition (p9-10; 18-22).
Approved for use by Migrating Landscapes by Bing Thom.