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Tim Franco Captures the Overscaled Urbanization of Chongqing

These days, many of China's largest urban areas are easily recognizable to people from all over the world, with the skylines of coastal mega-cities such as Shanghai and Beijing taking their place in the global consciousness. Far less known though is the inland city of Chongqing - another of China's five top-tier "National Central Cities" - where in 2010 the Chinese government embarked on a plan to urbanize a further 10 million of the region's rural population, with around 1,300 people now moving into the city every day.

Since his first visit to the city in 2009 photographer Tim Franco has been on a mission to document the rapid change in what he believes is "maybe the most widely unknown megacity in the world." The result is Metamorpolis, a forthcoming photographic book by Franco with text by British journalist Richard Macauley, which documents the colossal scale of development juxtaposed against the people of Chongqing - many of whom still live an incongruous rural lifestyle among the concrete sprawl. Read on after the break for more images from the book and an interview with Franco about the experience of documenting one of the world's fastest-growing cities.

© Tim Franco © Tim Franco © Tim Franco © Tim Franco

Vanke Sales Office / FCHA

  • Architects: FCHA
  • Location: Dongguan, Guangdong, China
  • Principals-in-Charge: Su Jinlefu and Chen Zetao
  • Design Team: Matthew Marano, Su Jinlefu, Chen Zetao, Liang Jie, Guo Xusheng, Lu Zhiwei
  • Collaborators: CCDI
  • Area: 600.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Courtesy of FCHA

Courtesy of FCHA Courtesy of FCHA Courtesy of FCHA Courtesy of FCHA

An Interview with Zhu Pei, Pei-Zhu Studio

“If we look at architecture from a cultural point of view, we see we are in a special moment where we are trying to figure out our identity. I think we are too focused on how to transform old Chinese architecture into contemporary architecture; but in no way can you transform it, you can see it with your own eyes. For instance you cannot transform a Roman building into today’s buildings! Sometimes you have to forget about history to create contemporary and unique architecture.”
- Zhu Pei, Beijing, 2013

OCT Design Museum / Pei-Zhu Studio. Image © Fang Zhenning Blur Hotel / Pei-Zhu Studio. Image © Pei-Zhu Studio Shenzhen Urban Planning Bureau / Urbanus. Image © Pei-Zhu Studio Blur Hotel / Pei-Zhu Studio. Image © Pei-Zhu Studio

Fangsuo Book Store in Chengdu / Chu Chih-Kang

  • Architects: Chu Chih-Kang
  • Location: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Collaborators: Fangsuo Culture Development Co., Ltd.
  • Area: 5280.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Chu Chih-Kang Space Design

Courtesy of Chu Chih-Kang Space Design Courtesy of Chu Chih-Kang Space Design Courtesy of Chu Chih-Kang Space Design Courtesy of Chu Chih-Kang Space Design

Luo Fu Shan Shui Museum / ADARC Associates

Courtesy of ADARC Associates Courtesy of ADARC Associates Courtesy of ADARC Associates Courtesy of ADARC Associates

Baiyunting Culture and Art Center / Dushe Architectural Design Co

  • Architects: Dushe Architectural Design Co
  • Location: Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
  • Architecture Director: Zhang Qi Lin
  • Project Director: Ling Ke Ge
  • Design Team: Xu Qi, Zhang Ya Chao, Zhang Jia Qi
  • Area: 25000.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Su Sheng Liang

© Su Sheng Liang © Su Sheng Liang © Su Sheng Liang © Su Sheng Liang

Rafael de La-Hoz and ADRI-HIT Chosen to Construct Cultural Centre in Meishan

Spanish studio Rafael de La-Hoz and Chinese design institute Architectural Design and Research Institute of Harbin Institute of Technology (ADRI-HIT) have been announced as the winners of a competition to construct a new cultural centre in Meishan, China. Located in Sichuan province in the nation's south, the complex will combine a sports centre with five museums, a library, and exhibition hall.

Occupying a sprawling 260,000-square-meters, the new complex is sited near the campus of the University of Meishan, and responds to the terraced topography of Sichuan's rice paddies. Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.

Yue Restaurant / PANORAMA

  • Architects: PANORAMA
  • Location: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Design Team: Horace Pan, Nick Wong, Kenny Hung
  • Area: 500.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Ng Siu Fung

© Ng Siu Fung © Ng Siu Fung © Ng Siu Fung © Ng Siu Fung

Ennead Tapped to Design Shanghai Planetarium

Ennead Architects has won an international competition to design the Shanghai Planetarium. The “celestial” design hopes to elevate the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum’s (SSTM) “scientific and technological capacity” while redefine the district Lingang upon its completion in 2018. 

“Drawing inspiration form astronomical principles, our design strategy provides a platform for the experience of orbital motion, and utilizes that as a metaphorical reference and generator of form,” says Ennead Architects.

© Thomas Wong / Ennead Architects © Thomas Wong / Ennead Architects © Thomas Wong / Ennead Architects © Thomas Wong / Ennead Architects

Interview: Büro Ole Scheeren Unveils Designs for Guardian Art Center in Beijing

When he opened his practice in 2010, Ole Scheeren had the luxury of already being a rising star in the architecture world. The former partner of OMA made his name as partner-in-charge on landmark projects such as Beijing's CCTV Headquarters and the Interlace in Singapore, and has since made headlines with striking forms such as those in the MahaNakhon skyscraper in BangkokAngkasa Raya in Kuala Lumpur and DUO, again in Singapore. The unveiling of his latest design, the Guardian Art Center, is likely to get a lot of attention too - but for very different reasons to his previous projects.

The Guardian Art Center features none of the dramatic cantilevers and futuristic formal experimentation of Büro Ole Scheeren's other works. Instead the "hybrid art space" - located in the heart of Beijing, just a stone's throw from the Forbidden City - references the scale and materiality of the adjacent traditional buildings. The lower floors, containing an auction house and a museum with a 1,700 square meter exhibition-events space, comprise an aggregation of small "pixelated" blocks, clad in stone with a pattern of perforations derived from a 700-year-old Chinese landscape painting. Though the upper portion of the building, containing a 120-room hotel and a restaurant, is larger in scale, it is broken down by a facade of oversized glass "bricks," again a reference to the materials of the hutong next door and a "humble and non-elitist symbol in Chinese culture," according to the press release.

To find out more about this intriguing building, we spoke to Ole Scheeren, who assured us that in spite of its appearance, the Guardian Art Center is just as radical as his previous works. Read on after the break for the full interview.

Guardian Art Center by Büro Ole Scheeren. Image Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren Guardian Art Center by Büro Ole Scheeren. Courtyard of upper levels with educational facilities in the center. Image Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren Guardian Art Center by Büro Ole Scheeren. Image Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren Guardian Art Center by Büro Ole Scheeren, hotel room interior. Image Courtesy of Büro Ole Scheeren

Flask - The Press / Alberto Caiola

© Shen Zhonghai
© Shen Zhonghai
  • Architects: Alberto Caiola
  • Location: Shanghai, Shanghai, China
  • Area: 130.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Shen Zhonghai

© Shen Zhonghai © Shen Zhonghai © Shen Zhonghai © Shen Zhonghai

Songjiang Art Campus / Archi-Union Architects

Courtesy of Archi-Union Architects Courtesy of Archi-Union Architects Courtesy of Archi-Union Architects Courtesy of Archi-Union Architects

AR Issues: Architects Don't Invent, They Transform

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this editorial from AR’s February 2015 issue, AR Editor Catherine Slessor reflects on Álvaro Siza's ouevre, from his early work in Évora to his latest effort in China. Though the latter is admittedly elegant, Slessor concludes that in comparison to his older transformative designs the recent incarnation of "brand Siza" is a "predictable triumph of style over content."

The great Portuguese Modernist Fernando Távora once remarked "Style is not of importance; what counts is the relation between the work and life, style is only the consequence of it." His friend and protégé Álvaro Siza echoed this sentiment when he said: "Architecture does not have a pre-established language nor does it establish a language. It is a response to a concrete problem, a situation in transformation, in which I participate. In architecture, we have already passed the phase during which we thought that the unity of language would resolve everything. A pre-established language, pure, beautiful, does not interest me."

Cubic Buildings by NADAAA and Himma Studio Redefine the Office Space

One of ARCHITECT Magazine's six winners of a 2015 Progressive Architects Award (P/A), NADAAA and Himma Studio's Ordos 20 + 10 reflects a reconfiguration of the office typology for compact spaces. 

The project is part of a high density office park masterplan in Ordos City, located in Inner Mongolia, in which developments are subject to stringent zoning regulations. Offices included in the area must be comprised of multiple cubic volumes, and lack what NADAAA and Himma Studio describe as "an immediate urban context." Learn more about the project and the architects' response to these considerations after the break.

AD Interviews: Xiaodu Liu / URBANUS

At the end of 2014, we had the opportunity to catch up with Xiaodu Liu, one of the three founding partners of Chinese firm URBANUS. Telling us about the role of architects in today's society - especially in China - he discusses how the creativity which URBANUS is known for plays a part in the business of their practice: "Innovation is actually everything for URBANUS, because the firm is doing projects for very challenging jobs. That's the only way we do marketing; we have to do something creative, otherwise we don't have any marketing tools to get something more conventional... we push ourselves to the limit."

Connected to this, he sees intellectual exchange as the foundation of their success, a mechanism that has allowed them to eschew more traditional marketing: "We have some people similar to us, that are well connected, people understand our work and support our work and they like us. Then we have that network and people refer to us and they actually bring jobs to us... networking is more like in the academic level - a more intellectual exchange."

Watch the full interview above and check out our past coverage of URBANUS below.

Nanshan Wedding Center. Image © Meng Yan & Wu Qiwei Maillen Hotel And Apartment. Image © Wu Qiwei Tulou Housing Guangzhou. Image © Iwan Baan Library of South University of Science and Technology of China. Image © Alex Chan

RTA-Office's Mountainous "Cultural Container" Wins First Prize

RTA-Office has released its first-prize winning proposal for the Wuhu Urban Planning Exhibition, Office, and Archive. The design stems from the idea of an “urban cultural container,” holding both knowledge and space, and extracts its sculptural form from the surrounding mountainous landscape.

Pushing for the Exhibition Hall to be a recognizable landmark, the design is largely driven by its surrounding context. The building as a whole derives its shape from the rocky faces of the nearby Yashan Mountain, giving it a strong sense of place. Similarly, the structure is divided into three distinct sections all grounded by a central public space, each informed by the same rocky inspiration. The cracks in the rocks’ surfaces are mirrored in the irregular entrances and windows carved into the building’s volumes.

Courtesy of RTA-Office Courtesy of RTA-Office Courtesy of RTA-Office Courtesy of RTA-Office

An Interview with Liu Xiaodu, Urbanus

“If you don’t know or really didn’t study the local culture, do universal design. That’ll keep the quality. If you want to do something that you don’t know, there is a big chance that it’s going to fail and have a bad impact on the city and the people here. Do it in your own way. If you do something good and beautiful back home, you should do exactly the same type and put it here. That’s also a good contribution because you show good architecture quality… Do something universal!” - Liu Xiaodu, Shenzhen, 2013

Founded in 1999, Urbanus is led by its trio of partners Meng Yan, Wang Hui and Liu Xiaodu, all of whom studied first in China and then abroad in the USA before returning to their native country at the very beginning of its construction boom. In this interview Liu Xiaodu discusses the changing realities of Chinese architecture education, the beginnings of their firm and the positive side to the “chaos” of the country's current urban expansion.

Diwang Park/ Partner in charge: Meng Yan, Liu Xiaodu (now demolished). Image Courtesy of Urbanus Maillen Hotel And Apartment / Partner in charge: Meng Yan. Image © Wu Qiwei Maillen Hotel And Apartment / Partner in charge: Meng Yan. Image © Wu Qiwei OCT Loft Renovation / Partner in charge: Liu Xiaodu, Meng Yan. Image Courtesy of Urbanus