Singing Ringing Tree, Tonkin Liu

Anna has around 20 years’ experience in architecture, art, and landscape. Her experience has encompassed practice and teaching in the UK, China, Japan, in the US where she grew up, and in Taiwan where she was born. She founded Tonkin Liu with Mike Tonkin in 2002 and, alongside practice, Anna has been a tutor, examiner, and juror for leading architecture schools and awards, including the Architectural Association, the University of Westminster, and the RIAS Building of the Year.

Anna Liu, Director, ARB RIBA FRSA

The Practice, Tonkin Liu, delivers highly acclaimed buildings, landscapes, and sculptures. Each project is carefully crafted to the context that frames it, the people that occupy it, and the culture that surrounds it. The Practice has won 17 RIBA Awards, which recognise ‘the best architecture in the UK’ and the prestigious Stephen Lawrence Prize for ‘new, experimental architectural talent’.

The studio was showcased in Taschen’s ‘40 Under 40’ book on the future of architecture, and some of its projects have appeared on Channel 4’s ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘House of the Year’. In 2017 the Singing Ringing Tree was named one of the 21 British landmarks of the 21st Century.

This year’s Annual Lecture was entitled Architecture and Nature. Anna said:

‘Step up, imagine, act, and call on nature as your mentor in architecture. 

We learn from nature how to design responsively, iteratively, holistically, and inventively, to use the least to achieve the most. Nature connects to architecture at three scales, as symbols, as experiences, and as design exemplars.

1. Powerful symbols: mountain, river, flower, ocean, have through enduring myths connected our land to our identity.
2. Weather elements: sunlight, rainfall, wind – that nature offers generously for free – bring architecture to life.
3. Form, structural ingenuity, integrated systems, are Nature’s design exemplars.’

Architect Anna Liu presented a series of Tonkin Liu projects, from an airway stent to a cluster of towers in China, showing how they engage with nature on different levels and at vastly different scales. For the first time, our Annual Lecture, Architecture and Nature, will be presented in two parts – the first, the inspiring talk presented on 15th June, and the second, a Practice visit to Tonkin Liu’s studio on 29th June, during London Climate Action week. Both events are kindly being sponsored by another member of the Architects’ Company, Tim Stonor of Space Syntax, which has an interest in the City of London as a quasi-natural place of movement, encounter and interaction, made possible by its interconnected networks of buildings and public spaces.

It was a thought provoking and inspiring lecture. Thank you, Anna, for speaking and thank you, Tim, for sponsoring this fascinating event.



Valerie Owen Le Vaillant OBE

BSc BArch RIBA Dip TP MRTPI MRICS ACIArb FRSA CEnv
Master, Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.