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The Spaces Between: Q&A with Ming-Jen Hsueh

In this recurring Q&A series, Sasaki staff share what inspires them, what they are working on, and a bit about life outside the office. Today, say hello to Ming-Jen Hsueh, urban designer and landscape architect in our Urban Studio!

Why do you do what you do?

Doing what you love doesn’t mean it’s an easier life, but it’s definitely a more exciting one. I enjoy facing the challenges and solving the problems. I enjoy seeding the idea and happiness to grow on its own root. I enjoy the moment when intuition and rationale meet. I enjoy the inspiration and collaboration in the every step of the process. I enjoy immersing myself in the different and diverse cultures.

What are you working on now?

A series of urban design master plans that bring the life and the environmental assets into the daily life. All of them happen to be around Shanghai and the Yangtze River delta, a very exciting region and destination in China.

    • Suzhou Shi Shan Urban Design Revision
    • South Taihu Master Plan
    • Kunshan Yangcheng Lake KC Detail Master Plan
    • Qingpu Conceptual Master Plan

In which research topics or concepts are you most interested?

I’m interested in the adaptive reuse of spaces with varied scales, especially the abandoned airport infrastructure which could turn out to be a potential community, civic park, or even a new generation of infrastructure. On the other extreme of the design spectrum, I’m interested in the materiality and the functionality of individual elements.

Hideo Sasaki once said, “Contribution is the only value.” What do you contribute?

The dedication, determination, and collaboration for the interdisciplinary attitude.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

I enjoy in the mode of transportation traveling between my favorite places, especially on the train, whether it’s a long haul night train home, glacier train at the Alps, or the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo. It’s the place where my mind and eye can enjoy the peaceful moment and to have the reflection for multitude of thoughts. Of course, if I had to pick a place, it would be Vals, Switzerland.

Whom do you admire?

I admire people who have the right attitude and can sacrifice/contribute for a greater good and still being thankful.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m 35(!) and have collected degrees in architecture, landscape, and urban design. I went to church schools for 10 years and had helped design a church-owned rehab campus for disabled children and seniors. I spent 25% of my time in 2013 on the road. I watch more Korean movies than my Korean wife does. I’ve also done the cliff dive.

What’s on your iPod?

My iPod is retiring soon. I had a bunch of ’80s Chinese pop for my studio night life to substitute the caffeine. I also had several piano and jazz impromptu when I look for inspiration. I listen to the violin concerto while reading and Bach’s unaccompanied Cello Suite on the train. I also listen to Kaito (Japanese producer under German label Kompakt) when I want to set my mind free.

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