SCHOTT solutions no. 2/2011 > Interview

Photo: SCHOTT/Chen Fei

„Documenting the Concurrency of Glass”

Architect Tilman Thürmer on the founding of ”Coordination Asia” and the special demands placed on design and art in China

Dr. Haike Frank

solutions: A German architect in Shanghai – a rarity or perhaps a new trend?

Thürmer: Germany has a good reputation in China; therefore German architectural services are in high demand here. I hope this is more than just a new fashion trend.

solutions: What areas does your ”Coordination Asia” office specialize in?

Thürmer: Our ”Coordination Berlin” office specializes in museum design and exhibits. Five years ago, I organized an exhibition in Shanghai and thus had the chance to establish a few local contacts here. I then decided to move to Shanghai two and a half years ago and set up ”Coordination Asia” as a counterpart to our ­office in Berlin.

solutions: What do you like about working in Shanghai?

Thürmer: Once you’ve established relationships with your customers that are based on trust, these prove to be very strong. We work together well and have fun. But the challenges are immense due to the enormous time pressures.

solutions: What do the Chinese like about German architects?
Photo: SCHOTT/Chen Fei
Thürmer: They really appreciate typical ­German traits like precision and reliability.

solutions: What projects have you completed in China so far?

Thürmer: The Shanghai Museum of Glass was our first large project. At the moment, however, we are working on an even larger project, the Shanghai Film Museum.

solutions: How did you get the contract for the glass museum?

Thürmer: The Shanghai Glass Company ­financed the construction of the museum as a non-profit facility and hired the renowned ­professor of Fine Arts, Zhuang Xiaowei, to find a partner who could handle the design work. He learned about me while he was searching for design and architecture firms in the art scene of Shanghai.

solutions: How long did it take to complete the project?

Thürmer: The museum opened in May of 2011. 18 months went by between my first contact with the customer and completion of the project.

solutions: What does the glass museum look like?

Thürmer: For Professor Zhuang, it was very important to show more than just the industrial and technical sides of glass. He placed a strong emphasis on artistic aspects and the value that glass offers society during everyday life.

solutions: What motif does the design ­follow?

Thürmer: The diversity and concurrency of glass are referred to everywhere, particularly the mutual influences that east and west have on each other.

solutions: What elements from SCHOTT are exhibited there?

Thürmer: The ZERODUR® element is really the highlight. This exhibit is not only significant from a technological point of view, but also quite beautiful and aesthetic. A CERAN® wok is also on display.

solutions: How did you meet up with SCHOTT?

Thürmer: I’ve known about the company for quite some time. At EXPO 2010, I ran into SCHOTT again and had the chance to see how the company was involved in the German Pavilion.

solutions: How important was the EXPO 2010 for you in looking back?

Thürmer: The EXPO in Shanghai was extremely important for all of us designers and architects because it increased our sensitivity to good design rather significantly.

Tilman Thürmer

Born in 1972, Tilman Thürmer studied architecture at the University of the Arts in Berlin. In 2004, he founded his firm ”Coordination Berlin” together with Jochen Gringmuth and designer Flip Sellin. He finally decided to found ”Coordination Asia” in 2008. "Coordination” develops exhibitions, creates design environments and conceives of products for inter­national customers in the areas of fashion, art, design, corporate and culture. <|