Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 198: Thoughts
After dinner that night, Zhang Siyi began to pack his belongings for his business trip.
While Zhang Siyi was packing, Gu Yu also brought out his black backpack he used for business trips. Since he wasn’t staying for the entire trip, Gu Yu had much less to pack and therefore, finished packing in no time.
Having completed his task, Gu Yu zipped up his bag, sat on the bed and watched Zhang Siyi unhappily packing his own suitcase: “What’s wrong? Why don’t you want to go?”
In fact, Zhang Siyi’s unhappy attitude wasn’t unknown to Gu Yu. All day, he noticed Zhang Siyi’s quiet and gloomy behavior.
After Zhang Siyi grumbled a bit, Gu Yu paused then explained his reasons for sending him on the business trip: “Now that many areas of the country have been over developed in the last few years, the government has suspended many projects in an effort to rectify the situation. Even though you have been in the company for over a year, this is the first time you have met Professor Cui. Since he has come to announce the project, it is clear that the government is attaching importance to the renovation of the ancient city in X Province and thus, the implementation of the restoration is likely. This type of opportunity is rare. If you are able to experience the whole process from the initial stages of survey to the final restoration, the project will have a great impact on you as an architectural designer.”
Zhang Siyi was intimately familiar with how well Gu Yu treats him. Normally, when a unique chance to participate in a project such as the renovation came up, he would be very excited and eager. However, traveling for two weeks means 14 days of endless work. It seems, his birthday will be even worse than last years!
Gu Yu added: “In addition, Bai Rui’s recent influence has been a major distraction. It would do you good to be apart for a while and leave on a business trip.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
Watching Zhang Siyi closely, Gu Yu thought he was still angry. He continued to gently coax him: “Have you been to X City before? It is China’s historical and cultural city. Although the city’s economic condition can’t be compared to Haicheng, there are many local places that are interesting. Since the project is in one of China’s top ten ancient cities, the picturesque landscape is evident. In addition, Zhuge Liang’s ** former residence, and the story, Three Visits to the cottage**, originated from there.”
While listening to Gu Yu’s gentle tone, Zhang Siyi couldn’t help but laugh at the difference of treatment between now and in the past. A year ago, all he ever heard was Gu Yu’s poisonous tongue and experienced Gu Yu’s black belly nature. Since when has Gu Yu been so concerned with his happiness?
Zhang Siyi was reminded of the time when they last fought over his request about his friend, Su Yuan. Gu Yu was helplessly sitting on the stairs waiting for Zhang Siyi. Once he saw how vulnerable Gu Yu was in reality, Zhang Siyi’s anger was instantly gone. He didn’t know if he either simply misunderstood Gu Yu in the past or he had in fact, changed Gu Yu.
Snapping the cover of the suitcase together and zipping it up, Zhang Siyi finished packing. He put his luggage on the floor then walked over to Gu Yu and sat next to him onto the bed. He looked at him then said: “It seems like I have some free time now.”
Gu Yu: “…”
Zhang Siyi held Gu Yu tightly. Especially because it was his birthday and wanted to spend it with Gu Yu, he wanted to shout: “I just can’t bear to be separated from you!!” However, of course, he couldn’t say something so emotional. It was too embarrassing!
He turned to look at Gu Yu’s handsome face and sighed. For the moment, in order to become a better man for Gu Yu, he decided he needed to set aside his birthday wish and stop being so childish.
“How long will you be there for?” Zhang Siyi asked.
Under Zhang Siyi’s petulant gaze, Gu Yu smiled and kissed him on his head then replied: “It depends on the situation but it won’t be more than three days.”
Inwardly, Zhang Siyi was stunned. Since it was his birthday in four days and Gu Yu was leaving by the third day, Zhang Siyi took a hit through his heart and wanted to cough up a mouthful of blood. Was he really going to forget his birthday?
Early the next morning, the group of six set out for X City. While Gu Yu would return in a few days, the rest would remain in the city. Since the project isn’t commissioned, expenses at the early stages of planning are paid by themselves and hence, failure to win the bid would result in the loss of their own money. As a result, Professor Cui took this fact into consideration and arranged for everyone to stay at a local budget hotel near the ancient city. While the team leaders stayed in two separate rooms, the girls occupied a third room and the boys stayed in another.
Unlike Zhang Siyi, it didn’t take long for the girls to get to know each other and act like they have been long time friends. He tried to make conversation with his roommate, Liao Jun, without success. Since Liao Jun was being rather cold and indifferent towards Zhang Siyi, he worried about whether or not the time spent together will be awkward for the rest of the trip.
After lunch, everyone went to inspect one of the areas that needed renovation. It was about two hectares of land in the eastern part of the ancient city that involved two main streets and three alleys. Once they arrived, Zhang Siyi set aside the worries of the day to the back of his mind and focused on Professor Cui’s insights. Everyone was paying particular attention to the Professor’s guidance and suggestions. Zhang Siyi listened closely while taking pictures of important details and his surroundings.
Having an on-site lecture by the professor who specialized in ancient architecture made the learning experience exceptional. With relish, Zhang Siyi listened attentively and as a result, he forgot to take pictures. He wished he could write down notes about the history and details that Professor Cui patiently explained. After a lap of walking around the area, it was evening and the Professor let everyone go back to rest. Tomorrow, they would officially start working.
When Zhang Siyi arrived at the hotel after dinner, he received a text message from Gu Yu.
Gu Yu: “Meet me downstairs.”
Grabbing his mobile phone quickly, Zhang Siyi eagerly went downstairs. As a result, he arrived earlier then Gu Yu and ended up waiting a few minutes for him at the hotel’s entrance. Seeing Gu Yu, Zhang Siyi smiled and approached: “What’s going on?”
Gu Yu: “Let’s take a walk.”
In fact, Zhang Siyi also wanted to look for Gu Yu and take a walk. At home, they were accustomed to walking the dog every day after dinner. Now that it wasn’t necessary, it felt rather odd, like something was missing.
As he walked, Gu Yu tucked his hands in his coat pockets and asked: “What do you think?”
Zhang Siyi: “What do you mean, what do I think?”
Gu Yu: “What did you think about when we visited the Ancient City? Did you feel anything in particular?”
Immediately, Zhang Siyi rambled on about the historical information he heard today and architectural ideas; which streets were superfluous and which weren’t; which parts needed renovation and which could be removed entirely…..
Gu Yu listened for a long time then asked: “And what are your ideas?”
Zhang Siyi: “Eh?”
Gu Yu looked at him and said: “What you describe are the facts that Professor Cui talked about this afternoon.”
Unresponsive, Zhang Siyi was momentarily stunned. Thinking carefully back to Professor Cui pointers, he realized he really did repeat what the Professor had said. He scratched his head and said: “I feel the same way.”
Gu Yu pointed to the night market street not far away and asked: “What would you do if you were to renovate this area?”
Zhang Siyi quickly evaluated the surroundings. The night market occupied one side of the street while on the other side, the wall of the ancient city stood. However, because of the street vendors, refuse was strewn all over the place which polluted the ancient structure.
He thought for a while then answered: “In order to maintain both the night market and ancient structures, start by cleaning up the city wall and either place a fence or greenery around it. Then, convert these residential buildings into a commercial district which would also alleviate the noise pollution of the residential area.”
Gu Yu nodded and said: “Yes, but for preservation, you can also extend the city wall and build a commercial building disguised as an ancient wall on the original open space and then move the vendors to the interior space. Between the residential building and night markets, establish a green belt to help separate the zones.”
Zhang Siyi was surprised at how different his approach was. The method of renovation can be very diverse so there was more than one solution to consider to solve a problem.
Gu Yu seriously said: “Instilled thought is a common problem for educators. Indeed, Teacher Cui is a very knowledgeable about ancient architecture but you must remember that you are an independent architect. Although you are still learning, you must not be led around by a noose and instead, you must have your own perspective. If you just listen, then you will lose your ability to think independently. Since people are lazy, if someone tells you how to do it, then you won’t think about it again.”
Zhang Siyi was thoughtful. It was true that Gu Yu lead his business trip differently than Professor Cui. When Zhang Siyi went to Z-City with him, Gu Yu mainly kept to himself and occasionally instructed Zhang Siyi to take photos. Gu Yu rarely expressed his opinions and views. If Zhang Siyi hadn’t paid close attention and thought about what Gu Yu was doing at every stop, maybe he would also just be a puppet.
T/N: Zhuge Liang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhuge_Liang
Three Visits to the Cottage: http://chinese-story-collection.blogspot.com/2016/09/three-visits-to-cottage-san-gu-mao-lu.html
Although not named, I believe the author is using the Hanzhong Temple as reference: https://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shaanxi/hanzhong/wuhou-temple.htm