Born in Kunming, China, Hai Zhang is an architect by training and profession. Photography was at first a work-related activity that became a tool to question the contexts of his identity, whether rooted in his homeland of China, or the U.S., where he has lived since 2000.

Zhang has been traveling regularly to China since 2008 to photograph the ever-changing and sprawling urbanized landscape. The four-year journey has constituted the exhibition Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost, a project with site-specific installation and projection. This project has been exhibited in France, Bangladesh, and Turkey.

Zhang was a fellow of the Rafael Vinoly Architecture Research Fellowship from 2009 to 2010. The work he did through this fellowship has been included in the book Pressures and Distortions: City Dwellers and Builders and Critics.

Zhang’s long-term project on Alabama, To Kill A Mockingbird, was included in America through A Chinese Lens, an exhibition in the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City, in 2012.

His works have been exhibited in museums, galleries, and cultural venues globally and he has lectured at numerous artistic and cultural institutions in New York, Turkey, and Beijing. Currently, Zhang is working on a project called Unintended Homecoming and commutes between China and the U.S.

Last Updated: July 2, 2015



The Watch

Hai Zhang
On a trip back to China in 2011, photographer Hai Zhang came across a crowd in the People’s Square of Wushan, a town outside of Chongqing. People had gathered to watch a gala sponsored by a local real estate developer to promote his new residential...



Pressures and Distortions

Edited by Ned Kaufman
Pressures and Distortions looks at the design, building, and interpretation of cities from the point of view of their residents.The cities chronicled in depth include examples from China (Shanghai and Shenzhen), Latin America (Bogotá and Mexico City), and Indonesia (Banda Aceh). Shorter sections cover Lima and Rio de Janeiro. The authors show how residents respond creatively to environmental disaster, poverty, housing shortages, and surging urban population. They also show how governments, international relief agencies, architects, and planners can shape better urban environments. Throughout, residents present their experiences in their own words and through careful documentation of their living environments.Pressures and Distortions began in 2008 with the Research Program’s international call for proposals. A competitive process selected four teams, with researchers based in Mexico, Colombia, China, Australia, France, and the US. Each team received a research grant from Rafael Viñoly Architects and worked independently.With over 400 pages, Pressures and Distortions contains more than 500 original full-color photographs, plans, and drawings, as well as a DVD with over 100 video and audio recordings from the streets of Bogotá. —Rafael Viñoly Architects PC