From The International Herald Tribune (link):
One day last month, Guan Yi, one of the most influential collectors of contemporary art in China, lifted this reporter by the elbows and pushed her up a steep brick ramp of his own design, toward the second floor of his new house here. Later he jogged down another ramp as his guest followed on tiptoe to avoid losing a heel in its steel-grate surface.
Guan, a self-taught architect, is one of a group of artists and designers with varying levels of formal training who are changing the definition of the Chinese house one idiosyncratic project at a time.
Using traditional materials like red and gray brick and wood, along with an often quirky, instinctual approach to design – and relying on the low-cost services of China’s vast force of manual laborers – these artists and designers are reshaping indigenous forms like the courtyard house and the canal town in a modern idiom that appeals to the country’s rising leisure class.