Architect Titi FANG: Working with Professor Will Alsop


In October 2021 architect Titi Fang, UNNC Architecture Alumna, came to the UNNC campus to share her experience of working with Professor Will Alsop in the office aLL Design. We are pleased that Titi has agreed to share her experiences with our readers as well.

This interview by Aurel Fabri and Titi Fang was dedicated to the memory of Professor Will Alsop OBE RA, an exceptional figure in world architecture. Professor Alsop was Aurel's professor at the time of his studies at the University of technology in Vienna. He was also the Founder and the Head of the architectural studio aLL Design, where Titi worked for several years.

Aurel Fabri and Titi Fang in Arabica cafe


AF: Professor Will Alsop was an influential architect of the 20th Century and you're one of the few people who had the privilege to work with him. Could you please briefly introduce Professor Alsop to our readers? 

TF: Will Alsop was both an architect and artist full of imagination. He always tried to explore the possibility of architecture innovatively in each project. He liked to use shapes and colours expressively. Will Alsop was very generous to young designers though he was a well-known architects. He was also an educator teaching in many universities. Working and talking with him was such an inspiring and joyful experience. I was lucky and I do apprieciate that period of time.


AF: When did you first meet Professor Will Alsop? How and where did your cooperation begin?    

TF: I first met Will in the summer of 2013 when I was taking an internship in aLL Design Chongqing recommended by my tutor Aurel Fabri. I still remember I was invited to join the completion of painting for a competition project. Will flew to Chongqing office to attend a meeting with the client and he spent the following days developing the design there. That was a high-rise residential project in Chongqing and we had both London and Chongqing team working on it. I helped to develop the drawings from Will’s sketch. I was also involved in the communication between Will, local clients and London team, which also took large part of my later work in aLL design.


AF: Your cooperation with Professor Alsop continued after you completed your UG Architecture studies at UNNC. You started work with him in his aLL Design office. How did you achieve that?

TF: During the 2-month internship, both Will Alsop and aLL Design team had already known me. We had a good time cooperating with each other and I was familier with the design and working process before I graduated from UNNC, so I was trusted to contitnue working in aLL Design.


With Will Alsop 1
  Titi Fang with Will Alsop
With Will Alsop 2


AF: How long time did you work in the aLL Design office with Professor Alsop? What are your memories from the time? What was the most important for you in that cooperation?

TF: I worked in aLL Design for 4 years. That was an enjoying experience that I learned a lot from both Will Alsop and my aLL Design colleagues. It was the people there and the time working together with them that was the most important for me. It was precious to have a team not only dedicating on a project and trying to explore the possibilities with various methods, but also cares for each other.


AF: Later you moved to London Master studies of Architecture at RCA (Royal College of Art). Could you please share with us your experience from these studies?  

TF: I got to know RCA when I was in aLL Design, because I had quite a few colleagues graduated from RCA and I was quite facinated by the diverse learning environment there. Students of different age come from around the world with different background and professions. I did learn a lot at the many exhibitions, sessions, studios and art bar. There are also plenty of equipped workshops in RCA that are fun to try. I realized that there is more than one answer to a topic, to excellence, to life, and it is important to keep yourself fresh, curious and open.


AF: You currently work as an architect in Shanghai, in the architectural studio LXL Architects. Could you please tell us something about your current office and your current work on architectural design project? Can you compare your experience here and in aLL Design?

TF: I have to admit the work in aLL Design is ideal to some extent. Will Alsop would normally come up with most innovative and bold design proposals. He said ‘architecture is an art of compromise, so you have to make the basis of the compromise strong’. It was not only his design ability but also his brand and communicating ability that brought him clients. Clients, who were coming to Will Alsop, they often expected more than a simple solution for a project. Most projects I participated in the 4 years were at the schematic stage. The only exception was the Testbed 2, the factory renovation project, which have been completed and become a famous spot in Chongqing.

My current office LXL Architects is a small studio in Shanghai with fewer than 10 people and a little garden. We do both interior and most kinds of architecture projects like I did in aLL Design. I am currently working on a sci-tech park project which provides an incubator to small enterprises. The first part of phase 1 has been constructed and we are now submitting the schematic design proposal of the other part of phase 1 to the planning bureau. Hopefully the construction will also start before the end of this year. All my previous experices emphasises design ideas that mostly are involved with of early stage of architecture process, while such project gives me more practical experience in realising architectural projects in China.


Testbed2 image 1
  Testbed 2 in Chongqing
Tsari-cqut Sci-Techpark image 1
  Tsari cqut Sci-tech Park

 AF: What are the greatest values you have from studying at the UNNC, at the RCA, and from working with Professor Will Alsop? Would you like to come with some recommendations for our students?

TF: Think critically, keep yourself open-minded, keep learning and thinking, these keeps you fresh and ready for this changing world. Last but not the least, really live your life, to dream, to try, to learn, to fail, to love, to react, it will be unique and that’s precious.


 AF: Thanks a lot for the interview, for sharing your experience and the nice ideas. We very appreciate indeed.