China has become home to some of the world’s most outlandish architectural landmarks of the 21st century. Hangzhou is home to a replica of the Eiffel Tower, located in a luxury real estate development, and Shanghai’s World Financial Center is often referred to as “The World’s Largest Bottle Opener.” However, all of these zany designs may soon come to a halt following a directive issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet, and the Communist Party’s Central Committee on Sunday, reports the New York Times.
The directive says “no” to any architecture considered “oversized, xenocentric, weird, and devoid of cultural tradition.” In their place should be buildings designed as “suitable, economic, green, and pleasing to the eye.”
The 2015 Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism exhibits, makes, and discusses architecture that reflects the reuse and rethinking of existing buildings, the re-imagination of our cities, and the remaking of our daily lives by design. It is be a biennale of fragments, not abstract plans; of collage, not grids; of tactical urbanism, not top-down strategies. The ETH Zurich Master of Advanced Studies Program in Urban Design – chaired by Marc Angélil and directed by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes – has investigated informal settlements in Cairo, looking into designs for affordable housing units in the neighborhood of Ard-el-Liwa.
Exterior construction has almost wrapped up on MVRDV’s Chongwenmen M-Cube shopping center in Beijing, featuring a shimmering façade that changes color from grey to pearlescent. The approximately 40,000 square meter center sits in the central Chongwenmen district, just moments from the Forbidden City, and will serve as a centralized hub for retail, cuisine and leisure. The project is set to be completed in summer of this year.
British firm PLP has unveiled their design for a large complex at the heart of the Pearl River Delta in China. The master plan comprises four buildings: the Platform for Contemporary Arts, the Lizhi Park Tower, the Concourse, and the Nexus - a 600-meter tall office and hotel tower that will be the masterplan's centerpiece and the region's tallest skyscraper.
The countryside carries so much emotional weight and nostalgia through thousands of years of time. Currently, more than 100 villages disappear every day in China. On the other hand, the rise of city living standards and GDP require a more suitable tourist experience in the surviving villages. How can we combine the inheritance and preservation of villages with a countryside tourism business model? To provide a better ecosystem for lodge and inn, farm, organic agriculture and handmade crafts is the challenge that we are facing now!
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and Gottlieb Paludan Architects have won an international competition to design the world's largest waste-to-energy plant on the outskirts of Shenzhen, China. The new "Shenzhen East Waste-to-Energy Plan will be capable of incinerating 5000 tonnes of waste per day - "one third of the waste generated by Shenzhen's 20 million inhabitants every year," according to the team. In addition to incinerating waste and generating power, the plant will serve as a place to teach residents about its purpose.
A team of urban design students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design has won first prize in UD Shanghai’s 2015 International Student Urban Design Competition for the Shanghai Railway Station Area. Through the competition, the team reimagined the “Shanghai Railway Station, one of the city’s four major railway stations and one of China’s major rail hubs, in the context of the next round of the Shanghai Master Plan (2020 to 2040). In particular, the competition asked teams to promote walkability and smoother traffic patterns,” where the station creates a topographical gap, “and to consider thee-dimensional urban development around the station.”
After living in China for a number of years, photographer Raphael Olivier finally gave in to the nagging urge to see Ordos for himself. Visiting last year, he found a well-maintained city that is still largely uninhabited. I interviewed Olivier about the project, his views on Ordos, Chinese prosperity, and what it means to photograph architecture.