Dhazi Lu was born 35 years ago in Harbin, a very cold city located in the farthest north side of China. Now he lives in Shanghai, but he doesn ́t quite like the city, he would rather live far away from skyscrapers “in a place where I could have a coffee under the sun”. In this city people are very busy, specially youngsters since a lot of time has to be invested in China in order to get a good job.
Dhazi is an architect, when he was a child he used to make structures with his Lego, but his childhood dream was to become one day a train driver. He lived near train tracks and a game he used to play with his friends consisted of putting nails on the tracks so they would be smashed by the train and used afterwards as swords.
He is in love with Barcelona and Gaudi’s works. His wife is also an architect and she had always been drawn to Barcelona as well, this is why they decided to do a master’s degree at the Polytechnic University of Catalunya (UPC) in 2008, the same year in which the economic crisis began.
The most surprising thing for them when they got to Spain is that on Sundays it seems as if life would stop. They arrived to Barcelona on a Saturday night and the next day they didn ́t know where to go to eat. “It is said that we Chinese work a lot, for sure at least more than Spaniards” explains Lu with certain nostalgy in his voice.
Lu, as his catalan friends know him, stayed in Spain for two years and during this time he also travelled around many european countries and was a volunteer for half a year at an ecologic park in the Catalan Pyrinees.
His dream is to go living in a village. On his desk he has the photography of a green and remote landscape that has got nothing to do with the usual Shanghai skyscrapers landscape. Maybe for this reason he decided to integrate nature into his architectural designs by including elements such as trees, stones, mushrooms, water. Dhazi joined Topotown as a partner when he returned from Barcelona in 2011. He couldn’t find a job in Spain and now he leads a team of 10 people at the company where he works. The company premises are spacious, bright and organized in different wooden compartments. Around his office a mice chasing cat prowls, “it’s called Mimi, as most cats in China, they are called like that because they meow”.
At the entrance of his company there is a big fish aquarium with orange colours. Lu says that, according to Feng Shui, his birthdate has a lot of fire and therefore he has to put something in his surroundings that compensates that with some water. This millenary Chinese method evens out the energies in those spaces that we use. It is believed that by harmonizing earth and heaven energies with the personal ones, wellbeing and prosperity can be attracted more easily. Dhazi follows this theory to the letter. On the left side of his desk, since he’s the boss, he has got a stamp with his name and flags as symbols of power and luck; and as a souvenir from the years spent in Barcelona he has placed in the same structure a flag from China and another from Spain.
“Maybe I’m superstitious, but if it works, then it’s awesome, and if it doesn’t there’s nothing to lose”
On one of the walls of his home he has hung a traditional Chinese calendar which has been used for more than two thousand years to know propitious and desfavorable dates. “ On the unpropitious days, important things shouldn’t be done, it is a guide to do daily things”.
There is also a plant on a shelf that divides the bathroom from the entrance, so that the energy from the bathroom won’t flow directly to the door of the house. The couple wanted to have beautiful daughter, thus, according to Feng Shui theory, they placed the photograph of a girl they considered to be pretty on the southeast side of their apartment. The happiest moment in Dhazi’s daily life is when he returns home and holds his little daughter in his arms. He would like to have more time for his six months old baby Dingyao Lu, but it turns out to be difficult since he hast to travel regularly to other Chinese cities because of work.
In this moment Lu’s wife, Wenqiong Ding, can look after their baby since she has got a three months maternity leave. But when she returns to work her mother will stay home to baby sit their daughter. The couple works in separate offices for mere economic reasons.
“ One mustn’t put all the eggs in one basket, if my business fails, my wife can still earn money by working at the other company”
Lu would rather she didn ́t work as an architect, since to him it is a very tough job. He would rather see his daughter having a more relaxed life, traveling out of China to go around the world and then deciding what she really likes to do. Dhazi would like to live in a more democratic China.
“In my country there are too many people, there’s censorship… I can’t use Facebook or Youtube. An oppressive country is not a good land for art”
Acknowledgements: Albert Planas and Ying Zhou.