Chinese practice Urbanus (previously featured at ArchDaily with their Jade Bamboo Culture Plaza, the Integrated Teaching Building in the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Tulou Housing Guangzhou) shared with us the exhibition design for the city Shenzhen at the UBPA (Urban Best Practice Area), an exhibit aligned with the Expo 2010′s main theme “Better City, Better Life”, which tracks how major cities around the world are coping with the new problems arising from their urbanization processes, as well as their effective and creative solutions, making it as highly specialized exhibition space.
The city of Shenzhen evolved from a small fishing village to an international center in only 30 years, a complex process presented at this pavilion:
Shenzhen was a test tube baby ardently nurtured by China in the last century. With big expectations from its parents, it grew very rapidly at the beginning, and shifted towards more measured development with careful planning and greater maturity when necessary. It has experienced its share of hopes and disappointments, upturns and downturns.
The past thirty years saw drastic changes and strenuous struggles, with critiques, disputes or even accusations popping up now and then. But, one thing is for sure, Shenzhen is much more than just a materialized city to the Chinese people. It is also a hometown of the Chinese spirit, a frontier for their dreams. It is a dream, first and foremost, of the whole nation, and Shenzhen’s struggle to shake off her shackles also represents the struggle of the entire nation. It is a self-made, unconventional and unorthodox region in a centralized state, moreover, its remoteness to the center of power and its relatively marginal status also provides a good opportunity for it to be more open, inclusive and bold. On the other hand, its connection with the outside world helps build a window through which the city exchanges and interacts with the outside world and with its double identity it is an ever-open gate.
Over the past thirty years, Shenzhen has been constantly posing new questions, each question demanding an answer, and our answers, accumulated together, have become the most precious experience in China’s modernization experiment.
The miracle of Shenzhen in the past thirty years is a snapshot of the vigorous change of Chinese society during the same period. China is the wellspring and paragon of dreams, while Shenzhen symbolizes the interconnection and merging of individual citizen’s dreams and a nation’s collective ambition, a merger realized by the virtue of an advantageous institutional system and Shenzhen’s geographical advantage, at a highly opportune time.
The 2010 World Exhibition Shenzhen Pavilion will try to collect this city’s memories. It seeks to tell the on-going stories of Shenzhen’s modernization and mirror numerous touching dreams held by Shenzhen citizens.
The World Exposition has played a significant role in showcasing the economic development, scientific and technological progress and cultural trends of countries. It is now a scientific and cultural gathering place where major economies at both city and state levels join together, conceive the collective future of humanity and transmit this picture through the window of exposition. While people are making unrelenting efforts to create technological and cultural miracles, the sumptuous feast offered by World Exposition is increasingly being watered down and turning more into fast food pressed by overwhelming information and rapidly changing commercial needs. The myriad of gorgeous pavilions resulting from a grand competition characterized by information bombardment, can hardly sustain nor can it provoke genuinely valuable academic discussion. Will the Shenzhen Pavilion break this trend towards short-lived sensory stimulus, go beyond the grandeur of a “sea of exhibits”, create a higher value while presenting sensational scenes and provoke more profound cultural thinking with long-lasting effects?
The Shenzhen pavilion used the rebuilding of Dafen village, an inner-city village as the story line, successfully avoiding the panoramic narration of an all-encompassing history of its success. Instead, it has explored a new path in terms of theme selection and form of presentation. Moreover, it tries to avoid epic-like presentations and empty talks. Instead, it proceeds from a specific case: the development and regeneration of Dafen village, and tells a story about how people as the ultimate driver of all the miracles created over the past thirty years, have shaped the drastic changes of this young city. It is a story about people, their dreams and creativity, as well as the culture, spirit and vision of this city.
Design: Urbanus Architecture & Design Inc.
Location: Shanghai, China
Project: 2009.09 – 2010.05
Size: 587 sq. m
Design Team: MENG Yan, LIU Xiaodu, ZHU Jialin, LIN Yinlin, RAO Enchen, HUANG Yihong, CHEN Lansheng, WANG Yuan
Client: Shenzhen Planning and Land Resource Committee
Materials: Steel, LED Oil Painting
Steel Structure: China Construction Steel Structure Group Co. Ltd
LDI: Huasen Architectural and Engineering Designing Consultant Ltd
Exhibition Decorative Design and Construction: Hongtao Decoration Co., Ltd.
Façade Wall Construction: Zhuhai King Glass Engineering Co., Ltd
LCD equipment: Shenzhen Skyworth Qunxin Security Technology Co., Ltd.
LED equipment: Shenzhen Mason Technologies Co., Ltd
Construction Project Management: Henghaojian Engineering Project Management