Artists’ Talk Series 1: Architecture and Scenography


A conversation on Architecture and Scenography


Architecture and scenography share the common goal of manipulating and transforming the space for specific purposes. They also share a similar condition, split between artistic vocation and technical requirements, aiming to combine the aesthetic with the practical.

Under the constraints of engineering safety ad economy of space, bond by the limits of the materials they rely on, both architecture and scenography are primarily expected to perform a task: to be functional and effective. On the other hand, however, they are expected to fulfill other, more elevated functions: to stimulate certain frames of mind; to attract or divert our attention; to make heavy, bulky things look aerial _ and the other way around.

While Philip Johnson’s definition of architecture as “the art of how to waste space” can be applied to scenography too (this is all the more evident while touring a performance), the same can be said about Pamela Howard’s definition of scenography as being concerned with both reception and engagement, “a sensory as well as an intellectual experience, emotional as well as rational”.

In this open conversation between architects and scenographers from China and Europe, we will investigate the points where the two disciplines overlap, exploring the different ways they can inform and inspire each other.


Inger Buresund (Norway)– Artistic and Managing Director Ibsen International
Gao Guangjian (China) – Artistic Director of Scenography at National Center of Performing Arts
Max Gerthel (Sweden / China) – Architect and Managing Director IFP
Yngvar Julin (Norway) – Architect and Scenographer
Dou Hui (China) – Scenographer at People’s Liberation Army Opera Troupe
Wang Chong (China) – Director at Théatre du Rêve Expérimental company

Coordinator: Sun Yangyang
Interpreter: Jennifer Cui

Headline picture courtesy of Yngvar Julin