Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture

The Organizing Committee of the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale Of Urbanism\Architecture announced the program for the fourth edition of the Biennale, which takes place December 8 to February 18 and is organized by the Chief Curator of the 2011 Biennale Terence Riley.

Selected from an international call for proposals, Mr. Riley is the first non-Chinese curator for the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale Of Urbanism\Architecture. Riley is an architect and partner in the architectural firm K/R, and the former director of Miami Art Museum. As the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art New York, he played a key role in overseeing MoMA’s 2004 expansion project. More information on the event after the break.

“Architecture Creates Cities, Cities Create Architecture” is the title of the 2011 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture. The Biennale will portray the endless interaction between architecture and cities, and provoke an in-depth discussion on sustainability and urban vitality. The Biennale will juxtapose that interplay as experienced in Shenzhen and other cities in China with that of other cities around the world in its exhibitions, publications, collateral events and, even, in its logo. Designed for the Biennale by wx-design, the logo graphically interprets the theme by stringing two sentences together in the form of a Mobius strip.

Riley’s program includes more than 30 exhibitions, symposiums, panel discussions and performances. He has appointed a number of scholars, architects and artists as members of the curatorial team, including Jeffrey Johnson (Director of China Lab, Columbia University), Dr. Tang Keyang (Curator of China Pavilion, 12th Venice Architectural Biennale), Xiangning Li (Professor of Theory and Criticism, Tongji University), Qingyun Ma (Dean of the School of Architecture, University of Southern California), Dr. Mary Ann O’Donnell (Research Associate, College of Arts, Shenzhen University), Jonathan Solomon (Acting Head of the Department of Architecture, Hong Kong University), Rochelle Steiner (Dean & Professor, Roski School of Fine Arts, University of Southern California) and David van der Leer (Assistant Curator of Architecture and Urban Studies, Guggenheim Museum), among others.

The featured exhibitions in the program strive to express a global experience and dialogue. For example, 6 Under 60 is a multimedia project that retrospectively investigates the successes and failures of six new cities, including Shenzhen, China; Las Vegas, USA; Almere, The Netherlands, Gaborone, Botswana; Brasilia, Brazil; and Chandigarh, India. The exhibition will also feature new videography tracing their ongoing evolution from master plans to actual cities. Additionally, Shenzhen Builds will exhibit 5 major urban projects designed by leading architects from China and abroad currently or soon to be under construction in Shenzhen. It will reveal their design processes and the projects’ impact on the surrounding environment, architecture and urban development. Counterpart Cities selects 6 groups from Shenzhen and Hong Kong respectively, to interrogate their common ecological and environmental issues and propose solutions. Other exhibitions such as 8 Urban Plans For China, Informal China, Urban China Timeline and Boom! Shenzhen provide in-depth studies on urbanization at the regional and city level in China.

The biennale will also provide a venue for young architects, artists and designers. The Street will invite an international roster of 12 architects in their 30’s and 40’s to design 12 facades in their own architectural language, as well as an installation of their work. Together, the twelve facades will create a street-like environment, literally reflecting the theme of the Biennale. Ultra Lightweight Village highlights the work of a selection of younger, international architects by utilizing Shenzhen’s Civic Square. The 2009 Biennale reconnected the square with urban life and activities through experimental interventions. Ultra Lightweight Village will continue to do so by erecting six structures designed by six leading contemporary architects from around the world along the connecting axis of the main plaza and the Lianhua Mountain Park to the north, passing through the Government Center. These projects will bring a different scale to the Biennale and help invigorate the area both during the day and at night. Also, New York architects John Bennett and Gustavo Bonevardi will create a series of installations that will function as platforms for performances during the vernissage, further activating the space.

The 2011 Biennale will also include the concept of International Pavilions that was initially proposed by Mr. Antonius Lambertus Maria Van Zeeland, the Consul-General of the Netherlands Consulate in Guangzhou. Featured in this section of the biennale will be an award-wining project from the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture. Reclaim, the Bahrain Pavilion, which was awarded Best National Participation, consists of three fishing platforms – the informal waterfront structures that used to line the sea and served as lively social spaces before the real estate boom of recent decades reconfigured the city’s shore. It echoes Shenzhen’s experience of being developed from a small fishing village to an international modern city. In an effort to not only internationalize the Shenzhen Biennale, but also to expand the number of multiple internationally voices heard, various national institutes were invited to participate, including: Austria, Chile, Egypt, Finland, and The Netherlands.

Catalyzing change is also the subject of two projects in the 2011 Biennale. The Ghana ThinkTank is a worldwide network of think tanks creating strategies to resolve local problems in the “developed” world. These think tanks analyze “First” World problems and propose solutions, which are put into action back in the community where the problems originated. Similarly, Haas + Hahn, Dutch artists Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas, turn public urban spaces that are deprived and often sites of conflicts, into inspiring artworks of monumental size. These projects offer local youth education and job opportunities, while making their community a nicer place to live.

As a city that recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, Shenzhen is planning its future for the next 30 years. As part of this historic milestone, the Biennale will present Exhibition of Universiade Stories an exhibition that showcases the newly constructed stadiums, and investigates the impact that large public events have on the city of Shenzhen. Another presentation of regional development will be The Research, Competition and Exhibition of Innovative Public Housing. The Biennale will include the fifth phase of this project that includes the exhibition and final review phase of design submissions. This will play an important role in the development and construction of public housing in Shenzhen.

In addition, the Hong Kong organizing committee was successful in securing sponsorship from the Hong Kong government and is working together with Shenzhen to truly make this a Bi-City Biennale. Based on the Biennale’s concepts established by the curatorial team, the Hong Kong edition will work to complement the Shenzhen Biennale in an integrative way. The Biennale in Hong Kong, curated by Gene King and Anderson Lee, is now under preparation and expected to open in February 2012. 2011 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale Of Urbanism\Architecture aims to achieve the goal of ‘Bi-City, One-Theme, One-Exhibition’.

To learn more about the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Architecture\Urbanism, visit their official website here.

About this author
Cite: Alison Furuto. "Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture" 05 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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