Architect passionate about SZ’s place in world’s urban history

Writer: Kang Wei  |  Editor: Vincent Lin  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-02-01

Driven by the curiosity to discover “a completely different culture” and his desire to “explore the world,” Frenchman Michael Patte came to Shenzhen more than 10 years ago. Years later, he realizes that if he hadn’t made the decision to stay, he would have missed the opportunity to witness “a unique moment in the history of the world, the emergence of Shenzhen.”

Michael Patte

2020 was exceptional from this point of view. More than 10 major cultural facility projects were launched in Shenzhen, calling on the best designers around the world for their designs.

“Not many cities can do that,” said Patte, who is design director of a famous Australian landscape, planning and environment agency in Shenzhen. He is proud to be able to participate in these competitions as a designer or invited to be a jury member and have the chance to influence the development of the city. “I feel so lucky to be experiencing this.”

The French landscape architect recalled the intensity of these international design competitions. Only six or eight companies out of a hundred candidates, all of a very high level, are selected to compete. “These competitions require a lot of work, dedication and passion. They are days and nights of effort,” he added.

The presence of all these world-renowned architects participating in competitions to design future cultural landmarks in Shenzhen gave him an idea. And thanks to the project that he named “One More Night,” some of the world’s most famous designers, through interviews, will be able to express how they dream and design the city and the life of tomorrow.

“You know some of them are like rock stars in our field. It’s really exciting to see them here,” said Patte. “With this project, we ask the architects to stay one more night in Shenzhen to share their design approach and vision for the city. It’s about understanding where they come from and their journey.

“It starts with the place where they were born but also the cities where they grew up as a person and as a designer. The cities in which they live and work and how these accumulated experiences influence and inspire the dream they are building for Shenzhen. It is a kind of dialogue between cities through the designer.”

“One More Night” is just one of the many projects and events that Patte has carried out outside of his daily work over the years, and all projects and events have one thing in common: they are complementary to his daily design work. The architect said that investing in these nonprofit projects for him is “a contribution to society” which has hosted him for so many years.

For Patte, being a landscape architect is first and foremost to focus on people, creating “places where they can live happily, places where they can bloom as a person and reconnect with nature.” He believes that it’s important for a new city to let people take root. “That is what is happening in Shenzhen gradually.” Patte said.

“Ten years ago when I asked people where they came from, I would get all the cities in China, many of which I had never heard about. Today, people will say they are Shenzheners,” Patte said. “That’s really something.”