Interview with Kam Panesar
儿童节快乐 Happy Children’s Day! As a celebration of Children's Day in China, we have taken some time to speak with Kam Panesar, the co-founder of Urban Hybrid Architecture (UHA), and our Big Draw Ambassador in China.
Having lived and worked in many places, from Yorkshire to Sydney, Kam is now based in the vibrant and creative city of Chengdu, China. Since moving there in 2011, Kam has played an important role not only in developing the built landscape, but also in introducing The Big Draw Festival to the city. He has worked closely with Soong Ching Ling over the past few years on running some fantastic Big Draw events - and we couldn't wait to find out more!
Interview: Matilda Barratt in conversation with Kam Panesar.
Hi Kam! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I am a Global Doodler. I am shaped by all the cities I have called home: I grew up in Bradford, Yorkshire; I studied in London; I trained in Dublin; I worked in Sydney; and I now live and raise my family in Chengdu.
I’m a Founder, Co-Founder, Advisor and Mentor. Experienced of many “hats”. I love to draw, design, evolve and co-create. I am honoured and excited to be The Big Draw Ambassador for China and Co-founder for Urban Hybrid Architecture from Yorkshire with design studios in London and Chengdu in China. I gained my training in London, Dublin and Sydney to become adapted and experienced in delivering master planning and architecture with environmental, regenerative and sustainable thinking in Asia and Europe. This lead to co-founding with Bhav Mistry a multidisciplinary architecture and interior design studio focused on culturally relevant design with a holistic “wellbeing” approach. With a focus on generating social economy through design, we have continued to evolve as co-founders of The BARN, The Vertical Farm Centre, the Chengdu Global Citizen Festival and since 2016 co-organised with Rachel Zarranz, Lorenzo Zarranz, Ivan and Gao, a team of beautiful minded creatives the first The Big Draw Festival in China.
Kam Panesar, URBAN HYBRID ARCHITECTURE [London + Chengdu]
凯瑞 , 英国设计师, 尔本海柏建筑设计有限公司管理总监 [伦敦+成都]
Could you tell our readers about the architecture firm that you co-founded, Urban Hybrid Architecture, and your approach to urban design and sustainability?
For over twelve years urban hybrid architecture (UHA) has been a leading urban planning visionary, designer of bespoke architecture and award-winning interior design collections. UHA is a member of the Urban Hybrid Group of companies, a multidisciplinary agency based in London with an international workspace in Chengdu, China.
The UN’s 17 sustainable development goals have become a bench mark for us, challenging us to adapt our urban and rural design approach. Currently our firm is working on the restoration of the Proposed Planning Masterplan for Wolong International Training Centre for the Giant Panda in Hetaoping, Wolong Nature Reserve with Sichuan Wolong Panda Eco-Education Company. Our approach to sustainability considers community engagement, locality, co-ownership, localisation focused material selection, localised amenities, shared facilities and wellbeing. Changes in Technology are transforming the way our lifestyles have evolved from the food we eat, the way we shop, live and our working environments.
[Angel Kindergarten project in Leshan, Sichuan]
I understand that one of your first projects upon moving to Chengdu was a kindergarten. What was your approach to this project, and why was it different?
Angel Kindergarten in Leshan, Sichuan was a student (end-user) led co-created workshops model that became an exemplar design incorporating education and community centre to create a game changing design process engaging community stakeholders and instilling the sense of “ownership” within its students and teachers.
Qiliping Convention Centre, Emei Mountain, a carefully designed building perched in the mountain plateau of Emei. Designed with local materials and nature’s aesthetics to create a building perfect for its context and purpose.
Da Yuan Plaza, Chengdu is a mixed use city complex designed to be one of Gaoxin Districts first mixed residential tenancy incorporating housing specifically aimed at supporting teachers, nurses, PHD Students, professors and civil workers within the heart of the south of Chengdu.
23mofang, are listed as one of Forbes recommended top 5 innovative companies in China to watch in 2018. We designed a fast track, 1200sqm office in the Tianfu Software Park to accommodate a new and innovative think, design, work and meet space.
We'd love to hear more about Chengdu!
Why Chengdu? This artistic energy is nowhere more palpable than in the Chinese heartland city of Chengdu, the capital of the southwest Sichuan province, where an influential artists community has developed. Back in 2005, Chengdu was on our radar because they had twinned sister’s with a Yorkshire city.... Sheffield! Sheffield boasts the highest concentration of artists’ studios in the UK outside of London, as well as one of the oldest established Art & Design institutions. Chengdu was entertaining the idea of becoming a “Garden City”, and that excited us to be a part of the vision.
Now, Chendgu is a rapidly evolving green park city with it’s geo-political position as part of the One Road, One Belt is unique and key.
The city is and has been earmarked as a “Startup City” for those involved in many sectors from hospitality, tech, education, agriculture to collaborative creativity and design culture. Design, like drawing, is an experience. It’s subjectivity. It’s open to a dialogue of interpretation. From “Made in China” to “Created in China” and this will continue to shape the design industries over the coming decade. A hybrid design culture immersed in localisation.
Hell yeah, game on. What a journey it has been.
Today marks Children’s Day in China - what better time to hear about your work with Soong Ching Ling over the past 5 years, and your joint involvement in The Big Draw Festival?
CO-created with Soong Ching Kindergarten see below our involvement over the years...
It’s all about making our Neighbourhood’s cool again, a community lead Art Carnival, by the local community for the wider community! Sunday 18th November, 1pm-5pm. Tie XIANG Si Jie / Water Street . Big shout out to Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten and Shell Studio.
你准备好了吗？Are you ready?
宋庆龄幼稚园x UHA x Shell Studio在英国商会的支持下，于11月2日上午10点至下午6点在水街为您带来了2019年大抽奖节“栩栩如生”的第四季。
Soong Ching LING Kindergarten x UHA x Shell Studio and supported by the British Chambers bring to you the 4th season of the The Big Draw Festival 2019 “Drawn to life” at the Water Street on November 2nd from 10am-6pm.
Yesterday we discovered, we had fun, we created, we shared, we recycled, we allowed the kids to explore... we PLAYED through drawing! The BIG DRAW Festival 2018 brought together a variety of international and local mixed media creatives. Thank you to all that supported (especially our team of volunteers) and braced the cold! See you all next year!!
昨天我们发现，我们玩得很开心，我们创造了，我们共享，我们回收，我们允许孩子们探索......我们通过绘画来玩！ 2018年的BIG DRAW Festival汇集了各种国际和本地混合媒体创意。感谢所有支持的人（特别是我们的志愿者团队）并且感冒了！大家明年再见！！
Amazing LINES!!! The Big Draw Festival 2017 Chengdu just got bigger... outstanding support from British Council, The Temple House, British Chambers, Today@Apple, Jinmao Palace and Dargans. To all our artists and collaborative design partners we thank you for your innovative activities and professional services. On behalf of event co-organisers Soong Ching Ling, Shell Studio and Urban Hybrid Architecture we wish to thank all the guests and community that turned out over the weekend and welcome to seeing you next year for a BIGGER Draw Festival Chengdu 2018!
惊人的台词！！！ 2017年成都大抽奖盛会规模越来越大......得到英国文化协会，庙会，英国商会，今日@苹果，金茂宫和达根斯的大力支持。对于所有我们的艺术家和协作设计合作伙伴，我们感谢您的创新活动和专业服务。我们谨代表活动合作组织者宋庆龄，Shell Studio和Urban Hybrid Architecture感谢所有在周末出席的来宾和社区，并欢迎明年与您见面，参加2018年成都大抽奖节！
The BIG DRAW FESTIVAL Chengdu 2016 // Sat 29th October // How Drawing Changes Lives... Join us and experience an art and cultural fusion with Social ImpACT. [微笑]
2016年成都大型绘画节// // 10月29日星期六// //绘画如何改变生活...加入我们，与Social ImpACT一起体验艺术和文化融合。 [微笑]
There is a lot of energy being devoted to immersing children in the arts and creativity in Chengdu. Do you think that this is why The Big Draw is a good model for the city?
We are all aware of the “Change” this year has become. We wish to explore the best strategy for a visual arts education charity is the ideal business model fit-for-purpose and best placed to deliver strategic goals at government, non-profit and business level. We understand the recent pressures for health initiatives over arts/culture, but we believe, The Big “Green” Draw is a timely and considerate anecdote for turbulent times through creativity and wellbeing.
We’re thrilled to have you as a Big Draw Ambassador! How did you first hear about the charity?
I heard of the Big Draw whilst I was back in London but only connected with the charity aspect through Rachel Zarranz whilst we spoke about why I initiated the Global Citizen movement in Chengdu and how I wished my son to play a more active role. The Big Draw Charity was his was way to engage whilst having fun through creativity and doodling!!!
[image: Rachel Zarranz]
What does drawing mean to you?
Drawing for me is a means of telling a story, without language barriers. It’s the relationship between mind mapping strategy and critical thinking. In architecture each line means something, the thickness, the weight of each stroke, the angle and ending all combine to tell part of the story.
Thank you Kam!
If you were inspired by this interview with Kam and would like to find out more about his work, head to the Urban Hybrid Architecture website here.
Registrations are now open for The Big Draw Festival 2020: A Climate of Change! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.