BaO is a Beijing-based architecture studio founded in 2010 by French architect Benjamin Beller. The studio operates under the strong belief that it is through acting and engaging with both research and design simultaneously that architecture becomes constructive. Through writings, speculative projects, installations, architectural design, urban and strategic planning, BaO systematically tries to advocate a bold and playful architecture.
BaO’s commitment in China emerges from a fundamental desire to embrace the current globalization momentum and celebrate cultural heterogeneity as opportunities for cross-fertilization. The open agenda of such an approach is to investigate, negotiate with, and hopefully transgress the consensuses under which the current architectural production operates.
The studio works simultaneously on urban and rural contexts as a way to challenge their ever-imposed dichotomy and reassess the role the architect plays in the existing dynamics of society. BaO is interested in the making of “exceptions”, in risk-taking, and in an architecture that is optimistic and ready to break away from conventions. Our projects go beyond the question of design by working extensively on programs, scenarios, strategies and tactics that challenge the notion of buildings.
As a trans-national, trans-disciplinary, trans-forming practice, BaO keeps adapting and testing new territories while advocating bold and critical ideas.
| BaO º º º 包 To envelop, to pack
BaO º º º 保 To protect
BaO º º º 报 To inform
BaO º º º 爆 To explode, burst
BaO º º º 堡 Stronghold, earthwork
BaOan º º º 保安 Public security
daBaO º º º 打包 takeaway
| BaO º º º bau (german : building)
BaO º º º Bouche a oreille (french : mouth to ear)
BaO º º º Bold Architecture Office
BaO º º º Best Available Option
Benjamin Beller started his architectural education in Strasbourg EAS before moving to London in 2004 and obtaining RIBA part1 degree in Architectural Association School. He then attended Paris La Villette School of Architecture, from which he graduated with the highest honors in 2007.
He first came to China in 2005 where he worked with Beijing architecture studio Atelier 100S+1 while pursuing his own research on rapidly developing Chinese cities. His graduation thesis, entitled CHINA.unLTD, was a comprehensive study on the branding phenomenon and its relationship to architecture in the Chinese particular context. In 2008, he established aYa office in Beijing with Chinese architect Xu Yixing and in 2010 set up his own practice BaO as a collaborative platform engaging in China and abroad.
Throughout his practice, he's been experimenting extensively on a wide array of fields ranging from installations, research and essays to architectural design and urban planning. The studios he leads are simultaneously involved in commercial and non-profit types of projects in rural areas as a way to advocate an opening of the discipline’s confinement. His approach is always situated somewhere between down-to-earth rationalism and provocation, it is playful while being thoughtful, it is ambitious while being unpretentious.
His works have been widely exhibited, published, and recipients of numerous awards.