Page C1 . 28 March 2007       
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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  • Postcard from Shanghai
  • The Sundanese House
  • Graves in Rome

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    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    In the interior design of its own three-story office space in downtown Shanghai, China, completed in April 2006, MoHen Design International emphasizes decorative elements. The reception desk is a glass case lit from the inside, an island of light in a dark space. In the main office and work space, cubicles line two opposite walls. Two long faux-finished tables for collaborative work stretch lengthwise down the middle of the room, flanked by furry, bench-style seats. Task lighting drops from the ceiling.


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    Three hundred steps lead down to the Sundanese village of Kampung Naga. Here, in this valley of West Java, Indonesia, the people consciously maintain the knowledge of their ancestors and their traditional lifestyles in a close relationship with nature. This philosophy extends to their construction methods using local materials of timber, stone, bamboo, and palm leaves.


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    In 1960, Michael Graves was awarded the American Academy in Rome's prestigious Prix de Rome. Having just completed his graduate studies in architecture, he embarked on a two-year "Grand Tour" that led to a lifelong fascination with the landscape, the culture, and the history of Italy. During this time, Graves was exposed to ideas about architecture that went well beyond his modernist upbringing.


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