This Chinese movie by the acclaimed director Jia Zhangke cannot be considered documentary by having actors performing most of the scenes. However, it represents an attempt to show the dissociation between the rapid urban development and social behaviour of a population that seems to be a “victim” of globalisation.
The film is focused on a complex designed and deployed by the government with militar purposes, as a factory for producing and repairing mechanical elements for the army. This whole area became a city in itself where three generations grew up. Nowadays the future of this space will be to accomodate hundreds of luxury apartments, for what not only some modifications are going to take place, but the entire site will be demolished.
What do you think about this issue between physical environment and the social framework that constitutes a city? How should we consider this kind of mono-functional cities and what could be its future?
In China’s effort to modernize its cities, it has used architectural mimicry – essentially “copy-cat architecture” as journalist and author Bianca Bosker puts it – to rapidly and substantially “adapt to the market” for urban development. Watch this video as Bosker describes the atmosphere of imitation that China has adapted to bring western architectural styles to its housing market. Bianca Bosker is the author of “Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China”, in which she gives a tour of the various towns within major cities that have seen this rapid development. Cities like Hangzhou has its own imitation of Venice, which includes man-made canals, townhouses, and villas. Shanghai has its own version of Paris, Eiffel Tower included. And Beijing has an imitation of the London Bridge.
More after the break.
Housing Corporation VANKE recently asked NL Architects to make a proposal for a Super Market as part of a big resort in Sanya, the southernmost city in China. Renowned for its tropical climate and for being a popular tourist destination, the site of the resort will consist of three clusters of large residential slabs of 21 stories high enveloping semi enclosed gardens. The public space plays a crucial role in the atmosphere of the area as a whole so a lot of consideration is going into creating a pleasant environment. More images and architects’ description after the break.
SBA International’s concept of a sustainable development among industry, business and residential in the Chinese city of Shenyang just won the first prize in the in the “Tiexi Waterfront Area” competition. Their ‘Clean City Concept’ includes a reduction of CO2 emissions, environmental green areas and office buildings which comply with the latest standards of a ‘Green Building’. The planning area is divided in three theme areas and in total covers an area of 90 square kilometers. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Following OAC’s win in the international design competition and completion of the master plan for the Famen Temple Zen Meditation Center in 2012, the architects recently completed the schematic designs for the buildings, landscape, and experiential features and art installations for meditation in the first phase of the project called the ‘Eightfold Path Forest’. As part of the new cultural master plan development on the site of the renowned 1,800 year-old Famen Buddhist Temple (aka Dharma Gate Temple) outside Xi’an, China, this project is one of the largest architectural and landscape commissions in the world focused around an historic religious temple.More images and architects’ description after the break.
Upon recently winning the competition, MVRDV‘s design for the Hongqiao Business District recently started construction. The plan comprises ten office towers, an underground shopping center, cultural program, parking and a sunken plaza which will bring a more intimate form of urban life into an area currently dominated by large boulevards and urban expressway’s. Located near the fourth busiest airport in all of mainland China, the 4.5ha site is divided into a small northern plot of 8,409 m2 and a larger southern plot. More images and architects’ description after the break.
ATENASTUDIO, in collaboration with Archmaster studio, has developed a masterplan for a new district in Wuxi, China, which takes a 200,000 sqm buildable zoning lot to present two main keywords which are the base of all design choices and that can be defined as generator elements of all the project: landscape and waterscape. The intention is to emphasize to the maximum the presence of water making it become a diffuse system, introducing it inside the area and in every part of the project, and using it as if it was a “3D liquid material”. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Architects: Scenic Architecture
Location: Shanghai, China
Architect In Charge: Zhu Xiaofeng
Design Team: Li Qitong, Xu Lei, Dong Zhiping, Zhang Hao
Client: Shanghai Dianshanhu Newtown Development Ltd.
Structural & Mep: Shanghai Xiandai Huagai Architectural Design Ltd.
Area: 1,818 sqm
Photographs: Iwan Baan
Situated outside the city of Tianjin in Northern China, the proposal for the new National Maritime Museum is designed to house both new and old maritime items with a focus on celebrating the historical achievements of Chinese naval exploration through out time. Designed by Holm Architecture Offce (HAO) + AI the museum combines all aspects of the maritime world, from aquarium to sailing to education, combining a series of unique visitor experiences under one roof. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Architects: TM Studio
Location: Shanghai, China
Project Architects: Tong Ming, Huang Xiaoying
Client: Zhou Chunya
Area: 3000.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of TM Studio
Hebei University of Technology Library Winning Proposal / Damian Donze (Tongji Architectural Design and Research Institute)
With an area of 48,636m2, the site of the Hebei University Library is located in the center of the new Beicheng Campus. This competition winning proposal by Damian Donze, of the Tongji Architectural Design and Research Institute, is clearly divided. The base of the building is designated for some offices, an archive, a network center, a convention center and an exhibitions center. This way, the West entrance is reserved for the offices and the the network center while the East entrance is reserved for the convention center and the exhibition center. More images and architect’s description after the break.
The Organizing Committee of the Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture recently announced that the 2013 Biennale, which will open December 6, will be delivered by two curatorial teams, consisting of Team Ole Bouman and Team Li Xiangning + Jefferey Johnson. Old Bouman wil act as curator, creative director. Li Xiangning + Jefferey Johnson will be the curators, academic directors. The main venues for the event are the former YAOPI float glass factory (venue A) and the old warehouse at Shekou ferry terminal (venue B). More information after the break.
When we see another Eiffel Tower, idyllic English village, or, most recently, a Zaha Hadid shopping mall, copied in China, our first reaction is to scoff. Heartily. To suggest that it is – once again – evidence of China’s knock-off culture, its disregard for uniqueness, its staggering lack of innovation. Even I, reporting on the Chinese copy of the Austrian town of Halstatt, fell into the rhetorical trap: “The Chinese are well-known for their penchant for knock-offs, be it brand-name handbags or high-tech gadgets, but this time, they’ve taken it to a whole other level.”
Moreover, as Guy Horton has noted, we are keen to describe designers in the West as “emulating,” “imitating,” and “borrowing”; those in the East are almost always “pirating.” However, when we allow ourselves, even unconsciously, to settle into the role of superior scoffer, we do not just do the Chinese, but ourselves, a disservice: first, we fail to recognize the fascinating complexity that lies behind China’s built experimentation with Western ideals; and, what’s more, we fail to look in the mirror at ourselves, and trouble our own unquestioned values and supposed superiority. In the next few paragraphs, I’d like to do both.
Designed by Studio 7 of Urban Architecture China, their proposal for the New XIUYI Kindergarten in Kunshan, China aims to strongly connect to the layout of the traditional village. They do this by spreading 30 classrooms into nine buildings and forming a relatively independent settlement type of a space. The organic arrangement creates both interesting private play areas and diversified public spaces, at a scale appropriate for children. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Designed by LYCS Architecture, their newly completed proposal for the Tian Tai County ChiCheng No.2 Primary School focuses on the relationship between architecture and site, site and city, form and function. Striving for a unique design to serve as a model school, their concept provides a beautiful environment for the cultivation of knowledge, culture, physical fitness, art and ethics for elementary school children. More images and architects’ description after the break.