This article from Metropolis delves into China’s urban development of many African cities, and the effect this has had on the architectural quality of those cities. Chinese contractors and architects are able to propel a city’s growth at lower cost and on schedule, but in doing so, they out-compete local companies and ignore cultural context. Is this an acceptable trade-off? Read the full article and decide for yourself.
The factory of the world has a new export: urbanism. More and more Chinese-made buildings, infrastructure, and urban districts are sprouting up across Africa, and this development is changing the face of the continent’s cities.
Or so says Dutch research studio Go West Project , who have been tracking this phenomenon for their on-going project about the export of the Chinese urban model to Africa. Since 2012, the group, made up of Shanghai-based architect Daan Roggeveen and Amsterdam-based journalist Michiel Hulshof, have visited six African cities to do research. Roggeveen and Hulshof recently released their preliminary report in an issue of Urban China, a magazine focusing on Chinese urban development.
“In the ancient culture identity is a touch of spatiality. Our use of space is psychological, you line up sequences of courtyards and buildings in order of importance so it prepares your mood, they get a sense of anticipation. We could reuse this spatially in today’s different types of buildings to achieve different purposes, but it originates from the past — that makes it Chinese.” – Rocco S. K. Yim, Hong Kong, 2013
On the 38th floor of the AIA Tower, Rocco Yim’s office faces the bay, from which you see the quintessential view of the city: the Hong Kong skyline. Rocco Yim is the founder of Rocco Design Architects Limited (founded in 1982) and responsible for the design of iconic buildings like the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong. In this conversation he talks about the importance of the density created and supported by the urban flow in China, and his unique point of view on iconic architecture in relation to ancient culture.
Torre de David (the Tower of David) - the world’s tallest slum and the subject of Urban-Think Tank, Justin McGuirk, and Iwan Baan‘s Golden Lion-winning Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2012 - is once again making headlines. Venezuelan newspaper TalCual reports that the Venezuelan government is in negotiations with Chinese banks interested in purchasing the building.
Tower of David is an unfinished financial skyscraper in downtown Caracas. Construction began on the tower in 1990, but the death of the principal investor in 1993 and the subsequent banking crisis that hit the country in 1994 froze construction; by the end of the year, the tower was in the hands of the state. Nevertheless, in 2007 two thousand homeless citizens took over and inhabited the skyscraper, making it the tallest vertical slum in the world.
Architects: Neri & Hu Design and Research Office
Location: 7 Mengzi Road, Huangpu, Shanghai, China, 200231
Architect In Charge: Lyndon Neri, Rossana Hu
Associate In Charge: Nellie Yang
Project Manager: Jerry Guo
Desing Team: Begoña Sebastian, Anqing Zhu, Kelvin Huang, Brian Lo, Zhao Yun, Litien Poeng
Area: 620.0 sqm
Photographs: Dirk Weiblen
Modeled after its dense urban surroundings, Chu Hai College of Higher Education’s new campus in Hong Kong meets a complex program while giving students a fantastic view of the ocean. Designed by Rocco Design Architects Limited, the building’s geometry stacks different programmatic uses on top of each other and connects them with a vertical boulevard. The result is a sculptural entity, partially inspired by Chinese calligraphy, that seeks a balance between solid and void.
The Beijing city district of Wanjing has traditionally been a gateway for people entering the city. Its name literally translates as “Looking Towards Beijing.” J. J. Pan and Partners seek to renew that title with the design of Beijing Automotive Group’s new Research and Development Center. Taking inspiration from the character 北 (bei), which signifies openness, as well as Beijing itself, this mixed use building is meant to become a symbolic landmark both for Wanjing and for the company it houses.
The Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki has revealed early designs for China‘s “first major design museum”, a project in the Shekou district of Shenzhen commissioned by China Merchants Group (CMG) in collaboration with London’s V&A Museum. The design model was unveiled yesterday at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, where representatives of CMG and the V&A signed a collaboration agreement to deliver the museum, which is hoped to open at the end of 2016.
Maki’s design for the Shekou Museum features three severely cantilevered volumes atop a deconstructed plinth; a staircase at the corner of the building also leads to the green public space on the roof.
More on the project after the break