‘My name is Chris, I launched studio ‘Precht’ in 2019 and co-founded ‘Penda’ in 2013. I don’t like to write about myself in 3rd person, so I’m gonna take a more personal shot at describing our office.’
How did we get started?
Back in 2013, my wife Fei, our friend Sun Dayong and myself won a small competition in China. This was the starting point of our first studio called ‘Penda’. We have spent a couple of years in Beijing, built up a team and worked on a lot of projects together. In 2017, Fei and me moved our studio to Austria. We didn’t move to the city. Not even to a village. We live and work in the mountains of Salzburg. As Fei and me do everything as a couple, we renamed our studio ‘Precht’, because it has a more personal and authentic touch to it. And if you run a studio in a rural area, authenticity is key.
We are a young office and we take pride to be part of a new generation of architects, that speaks up with a fresh voice. We believe this voice is important for all the challenges of our time. Older generations had their chance. It’s now on us – young creatives worldwide – to change course and create the future we want to live in.
We are still in an exciting stage in our architectural life. We discover, we experiment, we learn and we get better. As young architects, we have the necessary naivety to work on projects that we are truly passionate about. Its not about what is profitable, but what is possible. We are a diverse team from all over the globe and we love to inspire each other. A cross-cultural approach and the desire to learn are driving our design process.
Who are we?
Fei is an architect, my wife and the good soul of our studio. She loves to work on interior projects, products and VI design. She has a pottery studio, is an incredible chef, a patient gardener and in general an great person to be around. Me, I like to work on architecture projects of all sizes. I like to give lectures, discuss passionately about our industry and think about future visions. Preferably somewhere high up on a mountain.
We both take our work more than serious, but we don’t take ourselves too serious. Life is healthier when you are able to laugh at yourself and with each other. This positive attitude serves as a foundation of our studio.
What do we stand for?
We believe the ‘era of the ego’ is over, the era of the Star-Architect is over. The future is in collaboration and in trying to connect to people outside our industry. We do that with topics that will define all of our future: how can we accommodate a rising population with a more ecological way of building? How can architecture create a sense of identity, a sense of time and a sense of place? How can buildings help to make our cities more resilient and contribute to build future-proof communities? And how can architecture be a part of our food production and help to feed an ever-growing population? I firmly believe that architecture can be an aid to these tasks and be more than just a consuming island in the city. Buildings should be a part of our productive grid and should be able to give back to the surrounding and to the community.
‘Farmhouse’ – Precht (2018)
What are we working on?
Well, we work on everything that is interesting to us and we work on nothing that doesn’t fit this description. That means that we are not doing projects because they pay well. We do them because we share a vision with our clients. We are still in a stage where we ask ‘What is possible?’ and not ‘What is profitable?’ We even kick-start and fund projects by ourselves, because we believe in a vision. I am fully aware that this might sound idealistic, but we try to structure our team in a way that we can afford to say ‘No’ to projects that don’t fit our an ecological vision. We chose our projects very carefully and develop those with our uttermost dedication.
We work on a wide scope of projects that range from ecological High-rises to Bamboo-buildings to Interior Designs, Product Design or Visual Identity. In the past 4 years we worked on over 130 projects and we were lucky enough to turn 40 of them into reality. Currently we work on projects in Europe, North & South America, the Middle East and Asia.
‘Hongkun Galleries’ penda (2014)
Where are we working?
After living in Beijing for the past years, we re-located to the mountains near Salzburg to a village called Pfarrwerfen.The countryside is calmer. The mountains give us some time to breath between travel for projects and lectures. Creating Balance is one of the most important tasks. As young architects, we can easily work ourselves into a burn-out, because we get addicted to create and are driven by potential opportunities. But architecture is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. We try to keep our motivation and inspiration for when we are in our 60‘s and 70‘s. So we try to balance our energy, take a breath and create a healthy work-life balance. That is why we are a small team. And we try hard to keep it that way.
Oh, and we also won some awards and stuff over the last years and a few of them make us really proud. We were selected as the ‘Emerging Firm of the Year’ 2016 at the Architizer A+Awards in New York, we were ranked first on Archipreneuers ‘Best Architectural Startups’ in 2017 and are in the top 40 on ‘Dezeen’s Hotlist’ of best worldwide architects in the last 2 consecutive years. But I think awards are important for one reason and one reason only: It makes your Mom proud and gives her the chance to brag about you to her friends. And isn’t that the foundation of all of our careers?
What’s driving us?
We also try to inspire other young architects to do the same. We try to be accessible and start wider discussions with students and other young creatives. On our Instagram page, we discuss what it means to be and become an architect in this day and age. See, I’m a male architect from Europe. With those premises it is by comparison easy to be an architect. We can go to great universities and get good internships. But this also creates a bubble around us. There are so many architects and students in other countries that are not as privileged. Many young architects get discouraged after some years in our industry, because real change is hard to make and our field finds a way to kill this passion we all once had. We talk about those topics and the discussions are educational for everyone, because every look outside your own bubble is opening your mind. In the end all of us are struggling with the same things and we try to build a platform to address those.
The future generation of architects try to find a meaning in their work. It’s not about bigger, higher, faster. It’s not about being better than others. We are living in an age of authenticity. An age of flexibility. An age of collaboration. An age that is about sharing knowledge, sharing progress and working together on a better future.
Here a link to my Instagram page.
The changes in architecture are grand. The challenges that lay ahead are even grander. It is an exciting and important time to be an architect! We are trained to have a unique skill-set to be influential to address those challenges. We connect business with creativity. History with future. Traditions with cutting edge technology. We are ‘strategic dreamers’. And we are well equipped to be a leading voice to design for an ecological future.