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In Conversation with Galaxy Arch: Creative Atelier


Images: Lv Xiaobin

We talked with Ji Xin and Ge Jiaqi, founders of Galaxy Arch, the Shanghai-based architecture office that designed Dapi Mountain Restaurant, which was selected as the best project in the hospitality category in Dezeen Awards.


Who is Ji Xin and Ge Jiaqi? Can you briefly tell us about yourself?


Ji Xin is a registered architect in China and a member of the AIA. He graduated from Southeast

University with both a bachelor's and master's degree, and later pursued further studies at Harvard University. During his student years, he worked at Zaha Hadid Architects and, after graduation, worked at Line+ and EID Architecture, participating in various practical projects for architectural design. He adheres to high-quality design as the core of his work, creating urban spaces at different scales and believing that the influence of architecture goes far beyond its appearance.



Ge Jiaqi, a graduate of the Polytechnic University of Milan and the Polytechnic University of Turin. She worked at Plac Architects and, upon returning to China, collaborated with Ji Xin on several design projects. Due to their shared pursuit of design excellence, they co-founded Galaxy Arch Studio in 2022.



Can you tell us a little bit about your award-winning work “Dapi Mountain Restaurant” at Dezeen Awards?


The project is located at the site of a former restaurant outside the gate of Guanyin Temple which was originally built in 1323 AD on Dapi Mountain in Xun County, China. The entire building covers an area of 210 square meters, with a garden area of 852 square meters. The main functions of the building consist of dining and relaxation spaces, a kitchen, and a tea room. The building presents itself in a low-key manner amidst the mountains, echoing the surrounding millennia-old buildings. It adopts the sloping roof form of ancient buildings, while the main structure utilizes modern construction techniques to create a more lightweight architectural form. 



To better integrate the building into the surrounding environment, a significant amount of local natural materials were used. Stone slates were used for the roof tiles, stone was used for the courtyard benches, wood was used for the roof, doors, windows, and furniture, and other natural materials such as rammed earth and bamboo were incorporated. The construction of the entire building took place from October 2022 to May 2023 and cost approximately $400,000. 


What factors do you consider when researching materials or choosing materials for your new projects? Can you tell us a bit about the material choices in your work?


Within the permissible standards, we will choose materials that closely align with the project's character. The materials should reflect the essence of the place and have a strong connection with the people who construct and use the building. They should be able to mirror the history and culture of the design's location and resist decay and deterioration over time.


How important is the balance between functionality and aesthetics in your designs? What kind of strategy do you follow to achieve this balance?


We believe that a design that achieves functionality in a balanced manner is beautiful. Design is a process of gradually approaching the essence of things, and minimal decorative elements can better guide users to naturally and positively engage with the space, rather than imposing the designer's will on future users through symbolic language.



Photos: Arch-Exist Photography


 

“At the same time, beauty is also a form of functionality. We highly value the visual impact of architecture and consider it an invisible function influencing society. This function is subtle and understated, declaring the attitude of the design to the public and gradually forming an inherent connection with our design approach.”


 

Which of your works to date excites you the most?


Always the next project.


Can you tell us a little bit about the sources of inspiration behind your work?


Generally, the conditions and constraints of the design itself serve as the starting point for a design. Subsequently, we observe the people, the site, and the history associated with the design, considering these elements as various driving forces in the evolution of the design. This process is not always smooth; it undergoes profound changes with shifts in thoughts and realizations at different moments in life. However, it doesn't remain in constant fluctuation either. We believe that the work of design is a materialized expression of spirit, always revolving around some core ideas: reality, essence, simplicity....


Are you excited for the future, and what are your plans?


We view design as a long-term endeavor, evolving with the progress of life while maintaining its original intent. Our commitment is always to make the next project better, and that remains our constant goal.



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