Born in the historical city Xi’an in China, the rich traditional Chinese culture has been an indispensable part of Zichen Liu’s life. As a child, practicing traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy inspired her to long for the pristine beauty and the aesthetics of kindness.
Zichen graduated from Virginia Tech in 2019 with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. Zichen’s internship as an on-site designer with China New Rural Planning and Design shocked her into opening her eyes about the reality happening in rural China now. An ambitious program of urbanization threatens vernacular agricultural landscapes, as well as the intimate social relationships and ties between people and nature that characterize rural Chinese settlements. Her senior project at Virginia Tech, “Shan-shui”: A Framework for Urban Expansion within a Mountain and Water Landscape, proposed an innovative strategy to accommodate urban expansion in a 2600 acre rural district on the periphery of the rapidly urbanizing city of Hangzhou. The proposed development framework aims to achieve a harmonious rural/urban spatial integration; to preserve and revitalize fundamental social relationships that characterize daily life in rural villages, while accepting population expansion; and to improve local economies by enhancing traditional agricultural practices.
At Virginia Tech, Zichen was involved in the architecture study program in Japan and the landscape architecture study program in Western Europe. Travelling and studying abroad allowed her to expand her experience and absorb a broader worldview.