Rizwan Faruqui and Bang Dang are always thinking outside of the box. The partners of FAR+DANG have been crafting inventive residential projects since they founded their Dallas-based firm, in 2011, to celebrate the Lone Star State’s aesthetic one home at a time. “At this point in our practice, if we take on a project, it’s probably going to be an exciting one or we’d likely take a pass,” Dang says. Fortunately, the open-minded clients keep coming. Surface caught up with Faruqui and Dang to learn more about their architectural influences and what exciting projects are in the pipeline.
With a Subtle Touch, Far + Dang Transcends Typical Design Typologies
Not beholden to any single style, the burgeoning Dallas firm infuses a variety of homes across the Lone Star State with elements of intrigue.BY SURFACE October 07, 2020
Tell me about your backgrounds before striking out on your own. How did your past careers inform your vision for FAR+DANG? How is this firm a new and different vision?
Dang: Even at a very young age, I was attracted to endeavors that were related to the arts such as painting and sculpture. As I got older, I was fascinated with film and cinematography, as well as geometry and things made very precisely with minimal means. Architecture seemed like a natural discipline as it’s a bit rational, a bit intuition-driven. During my early career, I worked for small practices where architecture was both conceptual and physical. Making buildings thoughtfully was ingrained in me. Rizi and I were both very fortunate to have spent many years with Gary Cunningham’s practice, where we learned the trade and the craft of architecture in a very hands-on and rigorous way.
My brief time at Stanley Saitowitz’s office was also a great lesson in how to turn intangible ideas into something physical. Our firm is relatively young and there’s a distinct Dutch and Japanese influence where space, program, and materiality are consistently experimented with. Combine that with our many years spent in Texas with the flat landscape and big sky, and one gets an architecture pushed and pulled in many directions. Our vision is multifaceted, but it has to do with questioning how people live, work, play, and rest. This ultimately informs a lot of our work.
Faruqui: Almost since I could pick up a pencil, I’ve been drawing—a large portion of my youth was spent doing illustration or some form of attempted art. I’m fortunate to have had a lot of arts exposure throughout my childhood and education. Working with OMA in Rotterdam magnified what the limits of those potentials could be. Returning to Texas and working with Gary Cunningham was a second education in many ways. This experience was truly holistic in terms of how successful architecture addresses not just an idea for a building or even the building itself, but every facet of every person and parameter involved. Our practice seeks to take this even further. While heavily influenced from past experiences, our work and vision is always looking ahead and seeking new and appropriate ways for architecture to respond in these contexts.
For someone less familiar with the firm, what is FAR+DANG best known for? Do you have a signature aesthetic that guides your work?
Faruqui: As a young practice, our office seems to be more known for a lack of style or being fixed to any one typology. There are obvious clear principles whose aspects are reflected in our work, but a large part of the core of our design approach is how those principles respond uniquely to the parameters of each project. This can be the site, the budget, the program, or when it is most successful, all of those and more. How natural light enters a space or how one experiences the unique site or program of a project informs a design instead of any preconceived notions that it should look or be a certain way.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
Dang: We’re working on a small weekend house in Graford, Texas, and one in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, that we’re very intrigued by. These small dwellings with very tight budgets are great projects for our entire team to get very hands-on with. They require very clear strategies from the start and a detailed execution. Every inch has to be accounted for and we embrace that type of challenge. We’re also doing some projects in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is a very different landscape and culture from Dallas—those projects make us pivot our mindset. Even the way one deals with New Mexico light and Texas light is different.
How does the landscape of Dallas inform your practice? Do you consider the city’s architectural language when designing a project?
Faruqui: Dallas is a relatively young city with a young history and a persistent, seemingly endless expanse to grow into. The city is constantly growing and redefining itself. The lack of any overarching historical style or limiting natural elements—significant topography, major bodies of water—creates almost a blank canvas for buildings and landscapes to be created. That makes for a very interesting context for architecture to explore its potential.
How do the two of you work together? What do each of you bring to the table, and what do you enjoy about working side-by-side?
Faruqui: As with most good pairings, our similarities are actually strengthened by subtle differences. This enriches the process and the results in ways that are radically different from the storied role and myth of the sole practitioner master architect working in a vacuum.
Dang: I couldn’t imagine practicing without Rizi. We bring different experiences to the table, but our core beliefs of what’s critical in architecture and design are very aligned. We ask similar questions of our work and process: what have we not explored, how is this process outdated, why do we have these biases, how do we push ourselves and the team to areas where we are uncomfortable? Rizi and I generally tackle the conceptual and schematic part of the work together and continuously bounce ideas off each other. This process always brings fresh energy into the work. We also give our team a lot of freedom to explore their own preoccupations with the projects. Every day brings new adventures this way.