Now in its 5th edition, the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture (UABB) is the only biennial exhibition in the world to be based exclusively on the themes of urbanism and urbanization. The Biennale is co-organized by Shenzhen and Hong Kong, two of the most intensely urban cities in the world, where political and economical contexts have shaped unique urban dynamics.
A few days ago we had the chance to attend the opening of the Shenzhen Biennale, curated by Creative Director Ole Bouman together with Academic Directors Li Xiangning and Jeffrey Johnson. The Biennale, focused on “Urban Borders,” is split between two venues that will be open until Feb 28th, 2014.
Right next to the Shenzhen Ferry Terminal, where thousands of people commute every day between Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese cities along the Pearl River Delta, the Border Warehouse displays a series of projects -including the national pavilions- that deal with border issues, from projects that mediate Shenzhen and Hong Kong; the 3,154km long border between Mexico and the US, to transit stations and border checkpoints designed by contemporary architects. Participating include Enrique Walker, Juerguen Mayer, Aterlier Bow Wow, Joseph Grima, Teddy Cruz, Abalos + Sienkiewicz, MAD, among many others.
"Cities are filled with numerous – and at first sight invisible – borders. Between rich and poor, between ethnic groups, between high and low, between dense and sprawl, in short, between center and periphery. But who and what define these borders?" -- Ole Bouman
But perhaps the most interesting part of the Biennale takes place at the main venue: The Value Factory.
More information about the Value Factory and a complete photo report after the break:
The Value Factory is located in a former glass factory in the Shekou port, part of the industrial heritage of the city. This industrial landscape has been transformed by a multinational team of architects into a series of unique spaces that offer a dramatic experience to the visitors. It serves as a physical platform for the content partners invited by Ole Bouman to create and broadcast knowledge in the form of seminars, workshops and lectures.
The partners include The Berlage, Columbia’s Studio X, Droog Design, the V&A Museum, the MAXXI, the MoMA, MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism, Volume Magazine, the International Architecture Biennale of São Paulo, OMA, the Het Nieuwe Instituut, and the Museum of Finnish Architecture.
For example OMA conducted a series of workshops around the Yingzao Fashi (a technical book on architecture and craftsmanship written by Li Jie, the Directorate of Buildings and Construction during the mid Song Dynasty of China), where participants used foam cutters to explore these principles hands-on.
The Museum of Finnish Architecture hosts “ Re-Creation”, an installation by Lassila-Hirvilammi Architects, where a house-like concept is built inside one of the silos using traditional Finnish wood building techniques that will be later “copied” through re-interpretation by Chinese counterparts using bamboo techniques, creating a knowledge-exchange instance between the two cultures (more details about this project on an upcoming article).
Between these two venues, one for exhibiting and one for creating, the Biennale brings together experts from different countries and fields to exchange and create knowledge in a city that - in only 30 years - has grown from a few hundred thousand to 14 million, and that is already re thinking its past in order to define its future.