Architecture is not important. You can make a microclimate or situation, but you cannot have more influence about life or the urban situation, it’s just a very small operation you are working on, and you cannot control the situation of the city.. But even if you are just working on a single object here, you can always try to have more or less a positive influence on the city, you can always contribute in your way to the city, to the citizens. But in a larger view it’s not that important; it’s you or somebody else. The people are happy or not, their happiness is not relying on your architecture.” – Qi Xin, Beijing, 2013
Shedding light on topics from China‘s rapid urbanization to the issue of copycat architecture, this interview of Chinese architect Qi Xin conducted by Pier Alessio Rizzardi questions the role of architecture in Chinese society, and reveals the mindset of the modern Chinese architect. Qi Xin’s answers challenge many of the myths surrounding Chinese architecture, often through one-line gems such as “what is permanent for Chinese people is the spirit, not material,” and “the most important thing is that we don’t know where we are going… we are making the future cities.”
The world is looking at the urban machine of Chinese cities, at the newly founded theme-cities and at the new urban economic investment areas around the cities. The buildings are repetitive, the areas are sometimes uninhabited, but the thing that leaves urban planners, architects and the public amazed is that these buildings are often completely sold out even before they are completed.
To buy these freshly constructed residences takes money, and over the last three decades the Chinese economic miracle served precisely to grow the per capita income. The reform of the economic system in 1978 was the driving force that triggered the mechanism of capital production. The reform led to millions of people migrating to the cities from the underdeveloped west of the country in search of higher salaries and a well-founded hope of revolutionizing their economic existence.
China may be at a turning point in urban design: a recent article in Australian Financial Review points out that over 50 million apartments in Chinese cities (about 22.5 percent) are unoccupied. This problem springs from the ongoing Chinese construction boom, prompted by developers looking to stimulate urban economic growth as quickly as possible. However, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects believes these empty apartments are a sign that buyers find them unsuited to their needs, and that China should begin to enforce good design principles on these rapidly-constructed complexes. Read the full article here.
When Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu arrived in Shanghai in 2000, working on a project for Michael Graves, they had no plans to stay. “Three months turned into six, then eight,” said Neri of his first visit; fourteen years later, Neri & Hu Design and Research Office operates from Shanghai with more than 100 multi-disciplinary staff. The firm has developed a reputation for their original designs in a landscape dominated by duplicate architecture. In a recent article in The Star Online, Leong Siok Hui maps Neri & Hu‘s road to success, featuring their work on Design Collective and The Waterhouse at South Bund. Read more here.
After nearly eight years of design and construction, what will soon be China’s tallest and the world’s second tallest building has entered into its final phase of construction. Designed by Gensler, the 632-meter (2,073 feet) spiraling Shanghai Tower is now set to be completed in 2015, becoming the centerpiece of the city’s Lujiazui commercial district.
In light of the tower reaching its final phase of construction, Marshall Strabala, the Chief Architect of the building, has unveiled new photos of the construction process. Enjoy these photos as well as a video interview with Strabala on the construction process after the break…
The Guangzhou Bureau of Science and IT has announced the shortlists for two major projects in Guangzhou. The two museum projects – the Guangzhou Museum and the Guangzhou Science Museum, each worth over $160 million – will be the latest in a host of high profile projects in China‘s third-largest city, a list which includes Zaha Hadid‘s Guangzhou Opera House, the 600m tall Canton Tower, IFC Guangzhou by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and the Guangzhou Circle, among others.
The Guangzhou Museum will be located to the West of Lingnan Square near the Canton Tower, while the Guangzhou Science museum will be located to the East. Practices making the two lists include Bjark Ingels Group, Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, TFP Farrells, MAD Architects and Steven Holl Architects. Read on after the break for the complete shortlists.
Design and engineering firm Atkins has been commissioned by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) to design a series of new office buildings in Guanzhou. Their proposed design takes the form of three independent buildings, two of which form large, window-like structures. With a working title “Window of Guangzhou,” these buildings will commemorate the city’s history as the first Chinese port city opened to international trade along China’s legendary Silk Road.
The Tianjin University Research Institute of Architectural Design and Urban Planning (AATU) recently won an international competition to design a hub for Chinese food-processing and stock-breeding company Luoniushan in Sanya, Hainan. With expectations to break ground this year, the 42-hectare multi-functional park will house the company’s new headquarters as well as warehouses, serviced apartments, a tourism and exhibition center, and more. For more images and information, continue after the break.
PLASMA Studio‘s latest project in Xixian City’s Eco-Park isn’t just a restaurant – it’s also a greenhouse, hydroponic garden, and indoor playground. The project, which broke ground this past July, will twist and fold across the green landscape. Future dinners will enjoy meals featuring local ingredients and in-house produce (which they will also have the opportunity to pick themselves), echoing the sustainable approach taken by the rest of the park. Keep reading after the break to learn more about the interrelated, mixed-use program.
Sited in the city of Zhuhai, China, this museum by Ábalos + Sentkiewicz Arquitectos seeks to combine the opposing ideas of a festive, airy aesthetic with the need for a protected and enclosed space to showcase artwork. To that end, they have created a structure that resembles a landscape with sculptural tree-like forms emerging from publicly accessible courtyards. These “trees”, while an important aspect of the building’s visual identity, also play a major role in the climate control of the museum.
Have you ever considered working abroad in China? The thought may be daunting, but there are plenty of reasons why you should take that thought and turn it into a reality. Originally published on Arch-Shortcuts, here are five reasons to take the leap — as written by Arch-Shortcuts founder Chen Tang, an architect currently working in Hong Kong.
1. Bigger Projects
Forget about doing houses and deck extensions! Projects in China consist mainly of large schemes and developments – a small/medium sized project in China would be considered a significant project in other countries. You will be more focused on the overall image and conceptual design as opposed to intricate details – due to the short timelines of a project, which leads to our next point.
The following article, written by Jacob Dreyer and originally published in The Calvert Journal as “Maximum city: the vast urban planning projects of Soviet-era Russia are being reborn in modern China,” analyzes a fascinating phenomenon: the exportation of Soviet urbanism — or rather Stalinist urbanism — shaping Chinese cities today.
As I cycled to work on 20 May this year, the Yan’an Expressway — Shanghai’s crosstown artery, named after the utopian socialist city that was Mao Zedong’s 1940s stronghold — was eerily silent, cordoned off for a visit by President Vladimir Putin. We discovered the next day that the upshot of his visit was the signing a $400bn contract with China for the export of gas and petroleum. As President Barack Obama had once promised he would, Putin made a pivot to Asia, albeit on a slightly different axis. From Shanghai, the terms of the deal — which was immensely advantageous to China — made it seem as if Russia was voluntarily becoming a vassal-state of the People’s Republic, making a reality of both the predictions of Vladimir Sorokin’s dystopian fantasy novel Day of the Oprichnik and of Russian scare stories about Chinese immigrants flooding into Siberia.
The irony is that models of society imported from Russia during the Soviet period — as realised in popular culture, legal apparatuses and, of particular interest to the cyclist, in architecture and urban planning — are as influential as ever in China. If, as Chinese philosopher Wang Hui observed in his book The End of Revolution, Socialism was the door through which China passed on its voyage into modernity, then it was Russia that opened that door, by exporting models and expertise that laid the foundation for much of what constitutes modern China.
Re-Creation is a two-part installation based on a concept by Anssi Lassila. One part of the installation was constructed by a Finnish master carpenter and his team, and the other by a Chinese team. Together the two parts of the installation strike up a subtle and complex dialogue between the architects and local builders.
Presented by the pavilion designed by Alvar Aalto in 1956, the installation “takes a stand on our relationship with the modern legacy and its tradition of international dialogue, and represents a quintessential product of topical international dialogue while at the same time offering its own unique interpretation of the dynamic between tradition and modernity.” See images of the pavilion and enjoy a statement from the curators after the break.