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"Design is an irreplaceable human-centered power," say Xi Chen & Xiangyu Wang

Xi Chen & Xiangyu Wang create a novel, technological system for living and interacting in a post-Coronavirus world.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your company, work, mission, etc.

Xi Chen
I was born and raised in China and got my master’s degree of architecture in the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. By experiencing design innovation from eastern to western, I gradually formulate my mission as an architectural designer “use the design as a tool to provide the solution to the social issues for the great good”.
I joined Perkins&Will Chicago (U.S.) office in 2018, mainly working on healthcare and culture projects. Perkins&Will is a global design practice and we believe Design has the power to inspire joy, uplift lives, and strengthen the spirit of community. Our goal is to design places that make a positive difference in the world. That is why people are at the heart of everything we do.

Xiangyu Wang
I started my architectural journey in China where I received my Bachelor degree. I came to United State to seek Master of Architecture degree at School of Architecture in Illinois Institute of Technology. Shortly after graduation, I became an Architectural Designer mainly focus on residential projects in Chicago. My experience on both private-owned developments and social housing projects has contributed greatly to my human-centered design methodology.
2 years ago, I joined NORR Chicago office where I started to learn addressing complex requirement of design and coordinating between multi-discipline. The comprehensive work I am assigned to at NORR construct my knowledge on building a well-perform project in all aspects.

What inspired you to enter the coronavirus design competition?

Right after the Shelter-in-place Order was issued in multiple States around us. The city was vacuumed like never. We saw a steep downslide in the customer volume to hundreds of millions of small business, hospitalities, restaurants and public facilities which result in an immeasurable loss to the entire economics.

Five weeks have passed by before we finally accepted that this is going to be our “New Normal” and we may never go back in the foreseeable years ahead. Through the mainstream media, we get to know that fear has been spread in multiple dimensions of the market after the hard stop on our economy. We start to hear from our families and friends about their heartbreaking closure of business, unemployment and other consequences.
As a group of designers, we have an urge to find a way that we can contribute to the wellness of the world from a perspective of architectural professional. We focus on the core question of “How can design play a helpful and vital role in the health and wellness of a world in need?”. By conducting a basic research on the transmission of the virus, we found that there is a contradiction between the fear of the virus and the desire of normal social life among the people who are trapped at home.  

What role do you think design has in today's world?

We believe that design as intelligence can leverage complicated issues by optimization, reconstruction of objective material. Design is an irreplaceable human-centered power in addressing sensual, spatial and emotional problems. As the practicing designer in architectural industry, we can contribute to the solution of such a global crisis in an architectural approach. In addition to all the big ideas, design can also help the world better utilize and manage the resources. For example, in our proposal, we conduct a feasibility study to conclude the design ideas with an affordable solution. For constructability, we propose to products that are easy to access locally with the technics that are most familiar to the industry. For the adaptability, modular design is being considered to ensure the product can be adaptive to different space with various requirements. Beyond that, the product can be part of the cityscape when the pandemic ends. We hope that the design can be admired by the world for its contribution to solve the critical problem in our society.

Any closing thoughts?

As of press time, we have seen the case number surges again in multiple states around the world while some of them are making the effort to reboot the economic. With the help of such a great channel created by Design Class. We would like to call upon organizations, manufacturers and individuals who are interested to turn our design proposal into reality. We believe our proposal is feasible for production with the existing technology and products (LED panel, pressure sensor, backup framing etc.) A contact email, spacespectrum2020@outlook.com has been created for communication. Please send us products, suggestion or any thoughts that can help us materialize the design proposal. We would be willing to offer our consultancy and any other support that is needed. We will be more than excited to see if our design proposal can help people to overcome the ongoing crisis.

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