Alongside research on high-tech architectural coverings and facades, projects are emerging that emphasize a primordial and tactile relationship with materials. This often coincides with an interest in the local and primitive that suggests a resistance to globalization. The works of Chinese architect Wang Shu are perfect examples of this trend. His architectural works are multi-material assemblies in which raw materials and leftover materials from demolitions of old villages are assembled by combining modern and traditional techniques, developed together with local craftsmen.

This physical intimacy with the material paradoxically gives architecture a dimension of universality that transcends the local, because the return to the roots of constructing arouses tactile emotions and ancestral memories that can be universally shared. Wang Shu’s vernacular and modern architecture is an affirmation of the possibility of an alternative modernity, of the importance of cultural sustainability as well as eco-sustainability.

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