Beijing-based architect Zhang Ke was educated first at China’s leading school, Tsinghua University, going on to later graduate from Harvard’s GSD in 1998. The former equipped him with technical know-how, while the latter encouraged him to question the essential elements of the profession, such as why we build. After working for three years in Boston and New York, Ke returned to Beijing to open his practice in 2001.
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At the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chinese Firms Look to Tradition to Write a New Chapter in Their Nation's Architectural History
This article was originally published on the blog of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the largest platform for contemporary architecture in North America. The 2017 Biennial, entitled Make New History, will be free and open to the public between September 16, 2017 and January 6, 2018.
When we think of contemporary architecture in China, we often refer to the megaprojects by international architecture studios that tend to get covered most in the design media. From OMA’s CCTV Headquarters and Shenzhen Stock Exchange to the recently completed Tianjin Binhai Library by MVRDV and Poly International Plaza by SOM, these projects dominate urban skylines at a singular scale that suggests they were built to impress.
Beyond individual buildings, China’s mega-architecture boom is rapidly developing entirely new cities, a process designed to relieve the country’s principal metropolitan areas of their high density, while offering new prototypes for urban life. These highly branded environments are prompting displacement – as a form of rural exodus – and social stress throughout the country, while also ignoring the legacy of traditional Chinese architecture in urban centers.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial has announced the list of participants invited to contribute to the event’s second edition, which will be held from September 16 to January 7, 2018 in Chicago. More than 100 architecture firms and artists have been selected by 2017 artistic directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, founders of Los Angeles–based Johnston Marklee, to design exhibitions that will be displayed at the Chicago Cultural Center and throughout the city.
“Our goal for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial is to continue to build on the themes and ideas presented in the first edition,” explained Johnston and Lee. “We hope to examine, through the work of the chosen participants, the continuous engagement with questions of history and architecture as an evolutionary practice.”
Architectural photographer Marc Goodwin has recently completed the third collection of his "ultra-marathon of photoshoots" – this time in Beijing. Following his unique insight into the spaces occupied by Nordic architectural offices (based in Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki) and his look at studios both large and small lived in by London-based practices, Goodwin has turned his lens to the burgeoning number of offices in the Chinese capital. From MAD Architects' magnificent old printing works to ZAO/standardarchitecture's purpose-built studio, here is a view into the places that architectural offices call home.
Six exemplary projects have been announced as winners of the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Presented once every three years, the award was established by the Aga Khan in 1977 to “identify and encourage building concepts that successfully addressed the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence.” To be considered for the award, projects must exhibit not only architectural excellence, but also the ability to improve users overall quality of life.
Selected from a shortlist of 19 candidates, the five winning projects will receive a $1 million dollar prize as they join an acclaimed list of previous winners, which includes buildings from Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Charles Correa, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Hassan Fathy.
Currently on display at the Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin, "ZÀI XĪNG TǓ MÙ: Sixteen Chinese Museums, Fifteen Chinese Architects," takes an in-depth look at China’s recent museum boom and its effects on the socio-political and cultural landscape of modern China.
As part of the exhibition, filmmaker Moritz Dirks sat down with 16 of the top architects working in China today, including Wang Shu, Dang Qun of MAD Architects, and Zhu Pei of Studio Pei-Zhu, to discuss the challenges of creating cultural spaces that relate both to the global, digital, urban contexts of the contemporary world and to the strong heritage and identity of Chinese culture.
Continue after the break for the 16 interviews.
In conjunction with "Contemplating Basics," the 35th Aedes Architecture Forum's exhibition of work by Beijing-based ZAO/standardarchitecture, Reframe presents an interview the firm's founder, Zhang Ke, and Dr Eduard Kögel, an Urban Planner and critic from Berlin.
Berlin's Aedes Architecture Forum will mark the beginning of its 35th Anniversary Program by continuing its focus on Asia and China. With the architect Zhang KeofZAO/standardarchitecture from Beijing, Aedes presents one of the most promising protagonists of a young group of Chinese architects and urban planners with the exhibition 营造 Contemplating Basics. This follows on from the 2001 exhibition TU-MU, in which Aedes presented for the first time, and with global success, the first generation of independent architects in China. At that time, the architects and artists introduced in the exhibition - Yung Ho Chang, Liu Jiarkun, Ai Wei Wei, Wang Shu, Lu Wenyu - were fully unknown in the West, while some have since gone on to become Pritzker Prize winners or internationally renowned artists.