Xizi Yu

About Xizi:

Hometown: Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture '24

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Sculpture & Contemporary Art

Sichuan Fine Arts Institute


What kind of questions or curiosities did you have when you decided to pursue a degree in landscape architecture?

I have always been curious about the relationship between space and people (even other living creatures). When we define something as a single name or conception, boundaries emerge. How could we blur the boundaries? Or does the boundary even exist?

Things are connected, the environment and atmosphere, the rationality and sensitivity, the metaphysical and physical, are connected. Then what is the order? The contradiction comes from inconsistent truth. How to fuse the ostensibly contradictory objectives? Or is contradiction another kind of balance? When it comes to landscape architecture, abstract concepts could have a practical application to the natural land. That is what I think is a balance between us and the land.

How would you characterize your design ethos? How has that been adapted since arriving at Cornell?

It’s like learning to draw a straight line freehand. Firstly, you can hardly hold a pencil and draw a rough line. When you gradually get older, you can draw a clean one with the assistance of a ruler. And when you can control the muscle and strength of your body, you can finally have one straight clear line just with a pencil on paper. It’s always a line on the paper through the progress, the variable is you.

Studying at Cornell just for several months, I feel so free to experiment practices through theory which I know I may not have another chance to try. People in the studio are always helpful and we can always discuss and share our recent projects, which could be another energy source for me.

Are there any particular courses you've been seeing at Cornell that you hope to leverage your design ethos or process?

I would like to take some social anthropology and philosophy courses. Practical courses are really helpful when discussing sustainable land management methods. Compared with those, I prefer some basic subjects that could be more essential and universal, which could inspire me of the original issues. Space would not even exist if we do not look back to ourselves, human beings. And the landscape for me is more about the relationships/events that happened in a certain space. When we talk about social relationships, social constructions, or even social conflicts, we may find a subtle perspective and develop a strong insight reflecting in landscape design.


Being at Cornell, has living in the Finger Lakes region informed your view on the field, or even broader, the environment?

Cascadilla Gorge trail, Beebe lake, waterfalls, Stewart park… when thinking of Ithaca, I think of these places of nature. One of the most famous Chinese students HU Shi used to study at Cornell in the 1910s, 倚色佳 in Chinese is a proper description of the nature views here. Every morning, I cross the Cascadilla creek to Kennedy Hall, with the sound of water, stepping the crisp of the fall leaves and sometimes kicking the fruits of black walnut on Hoy Rd. Looking through the terrace at the studio, views change as the shades move. A concrete city could be considered as a conquer to the land, we build skyscrapers, we create modern constructions, we make rules as if that is the prooving we own the place. Living here, near to nature, reminds me of the relationship between us and the land, of the role we play as a species on the earth. I would prefer to be modest when realizing we are small as ants if we consider the whole universe as our context. When we jump out of the moment and reflect on the things we are doing right now, what would that be like? What would the land be like?


Reflecting on your interests, how do you hope to define your concentration in the program?

I don’t know a specific concentration by now, I can only have a vague vision of that in the program. As the world is changing and information explodes, this would make it even harder to see through. I would like to discuss the relationship between us and the land, the boundaries between us and others. Medium is variable, the core of the ideology and the logic between works and idea is more essential from my perspective.


What would you tell your younger self from ten years ago? What would you tell your future self ten years ahead?

I believe in love, not the affair between man and woman, but a greater one. I would tell myself 10 years ago, ‘Be brave’. Be brave of breaking, of the diversity, of changing. And tell my future self, ‘Don’t stop’. Continue thinking, continue believing, continue changing.