Films & Architecture: "24 City"

By the acclaimed director Jia Zhangke, 24 City cannot be considered a documentary, since actors perform in most of the scenes; however, this Chinese film realistically shows the dissociation between the rapid urban development and a population that seems to be victimized by globalisation.

The film is focused on the workers at Factory 420, a complex designed and deployed by the government for military purposes and used as a factory for producing and repairing mechanical elements for the army. This whole area became a city in itself, housing generations of factory workers. When the space is converted to 24 City, a complex to accomodate hundreds of luxury apartments, the entire site is demolished. 24 City tells the workers' stories in the midst of this transformation.

How should we consider these kinds of mono-functional cities and what could/should be their futures? Let us know in the comments below.

Factory 420 Entrance


Original title: Er shi si cheng ji
Year: 2008
Runtime: 107 min.
Country: China
Director: Jia Zhangke
Writer: Jia Zhangke, Zhai Yongming
Soundtrack:Yoshihiro Hanno, Lim Giong
Cast: Joan Chen, Lü Liping, Zhao Tao, Chen Jianbin


When the state-owned Factory 420 becomes a luxury apartment complex known as "24 City," the stories of three generations and eight characters meld together to offer an intimate glimpse into the history of China. The line between documentary and fiction blurs as the towering factories on which socialism was built are dismantled and employees are laid off, paving the way for a free-market economy. Located in Sichuan's capital city of Chengdu, the 420 plant used to produce airplane engines.

Factory buildings interior

For more than 50 years, it was the center of life for hundreds of workers. Now, as builders prepare to transform the factory into luxury condos, interviews with real workers and ex-workers are intercut with vignettes about a lonely Shanghai woman (Joan Chen) exiled in Chengdu, a mother (Lu Liping) who lost her son on the long trip from Shenyang, and a young professional (Zhao Tao) pondering the uncertain fate faced by her elderly working-class parents. 

Entrance dismantling


Previously posted on this section…

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Cite: Daniel Portilla. "Films & Architecture: "24 City"" 08 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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