How Chinese Urbanism Is Transforming African Cities

The Great Wall Apartments, a Chinese style residential compound in Nairobi, Kenya. Image Courtesy of Go West Project

This article from 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 Chinaa magazine focusing on Chinese urban development.

Daniel Libeskind on Italy, Design, & the State of Architecture Today

Rendering of the CHAU 43 residential project in Berlin, whose facade will be clad in Libeskind’s titanium ceramic porcelain tile.. Image Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

In this interview with Daniel Libeskind, originally featured on as Q&A: Daniel Libeskind on Italy, Product Design, and the State of Architecture Today, talks to Libeskind about his perspective on Italian culture, its influence on his career, and his most recent foray into product design.

When you talk to Daniel Libeskind, no single question has a simple answer. From his days as a young musical prodigy (he played the accordion) to his directorship at Cranbrook Academy, not to mention his voracious passion for literature, the fascinating episodes of his life all come together, informing his approach to design and architecture. His career path is an unusual one. And while that is true for many architects, his is particularly interesting, where each twist and turn, no matter how ostensibly disconnected, seem to have always prepared him for his next step. Take his two highest profile jobs, the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the master plan for Ground Zero. The two are intrinsically linked—the museum’s official opening to the public in 2001 was originally scheduled on September 11. The project had taken 13 years of political maneuvering to realize. Similarly, Libeskind’s World Trade Center site master plan was marred by a decade of delays and alterations, which threatened to blot out his original design intentions. One monumental task after the other, eerily similar in challenging circumstances, both offering the architect a rare opportunity to helm projects richly entrenched in emotion, symbolism, and historical significance.

Now as his career moves beyond these two important projects, the architect’s connection to Italy is beginning to play a pivotal role in his work. He moved there after his time at Cranbrook, when he was looking for new career challenges. Libeskind has been back in America since he was commissioned the Ground Zero project, but he recently opened up a studio in Milan, where he, his wife, and son oversee the firm’s forays in product design.

I caught up with Libeskind at his Lower Manhattan office overlooking Ground Zero to talk about Italy and his involvement in upcoming design fairs there, Milan Design Week and the Venice Architecture Biennale.

House in La Jolla / Metropolis

© Juan Solano

Architects: Metropolis
Location: Peru
Project Architect: José Orrego Herrera
Project Area: 570 sqm
Project Year: 2014
Photographs: Juan Solano

Building Omega / Metropolis

Courtesy of

Architects: Metropolis
Location: Santiago de Surco,
Architect In Charge: Jose Orrego
Area: 36,860 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of Metropolis

House in Palabritas / Metropolis

© Elsa Ramirez

Architects: Metropolis
Location: Lima,
Architect In Charge: Jose Orrego
Design Team: Anahi Bastian
Area: 230 sqm
Year: 2009
Photographs: Elsa Ramirez

Casuarinas’ House / Metropolis

© Juan Solano

Architects: Metropolis
Location: Casuarinas, ,
Architect In Charge: José Orrego
Area: 330 sqm
Photographs: Juan Solano

Casuarinas House / Metropolis

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© Juan Solano

Architects: Metropolis
Location:
Architect in Charge: José Orrego
Project Area: 569 sqm
Photographs: Juan Solano

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“Universidad del Pacifico” Branch Office / Metropolis

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© Juan Solano

Architects: Metropolis
Location: , Peru
Project Year: 2012
Project Area: 17,000 sqm
Photographs: Juan Solano

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Films & Architecture: “Metropolis”

Following with the list of films we propose every week, as The Belly of the Architect, Blade Runner, and Gattaca.This week we are going back to the times when technologies didn’t allow yet the sound or even color to be part of films. , one of the classics by the German director , is a film that shows a future where the city is structured in vertical layers according to the different social strata. Something that could be recognized in the current situation of several cities today… Do you know about any example? Do you think this will be the actual future pattern of our cities?

House in Beach Palabritas / Metropolis

© Elsa Ramirez

Architects: Metropolis – Jose Orrego
Location: Palabritas Beach, , Peru
Collaborators: Anahi Bastian
Built Area: 230 sqm
Photographs: Elsa Ramirez