Chinese real estate developer SOHO China has won a 200,000 yuan—nearly $30,000—libel case against a blogger who wrote that the Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)-designed Wangjing SOHO was bringing bad luck to its tenants. In November of last year, a blog run by Zhuhai Shengun Network Technology wrote that the triple-building office complex in Beijing had bad feng shui. Among the article’s many claims is that the pebble-shaped buildings looked like “pig kidneys” and that they were a “Waterloo” for the companies working within. The post, which was viewed over 100,000 times before being deleted from messaging platform WeChat, went on to say that larger companies should flee the Wangjing SOHO unless they wanted their growth to slow. On April 10, a Beijing district court ordered that the blog operator pay $29,796 and apologize to SOHO China. In its verdict, the court ruled that the article “applies superstition to Wangjing Soho building, which institutes defamation,” according to the South China Morning Post. The blog itself, S Shengunju S, was deleted in November along with 9,800 other accounts as part of a larger social media post and blog purge by the Chinese government. Feng shui is an ancient practice of precisely orienting buildings and their interiors to invite in energy, wealth, and prosperity that still has many modern adherents all over the world. However, regardless of whether the feng shui of the 5.4 million-square-foot Wangjing SOHO is off or not, the complex has been a success by more than one measure; after the complex’s design was “stolen” in 2013, it went on to win several awards and has a 98 percent occupancy rate.
Posts tagged with "Beijing":
The World Monuments Fund, the New York–based nonprofit dedicated to preserving historically-significant monuments all over the world, announced that Selldorf Architects will design a new visitor’s center in Beijing’s Forbidden City. The “Interpretation Center” will be housed in an existing building in the Forbidden City’s Qianlong Garden, which has been idle since China’s last emperor, Pu Yi, left the palace in 1924. While the original palace complex was completed in 1420 and includes 980 buildings, Qianlong Garden is a semi-recent addition that was added sometime between 1771 and 1776. The two-acre garden has never been open to the public and has remained unrestored. Under Selldorf's plan, an existing structure in the garden’s second courtyard will be converted into a tripartite visitor’s center that will educate guests on the history of the Forbidden City. The Interpretation Center will be composed of three halls around an open-air pavilion. The west hall will focus on the design and creation of the surrounding garden, which holds 27 buildings; the main hall will be open and present unobstructed views of the cascading rock gardens in the third courtyard, and the east hall will present materials on the Qianlong Garden’s restoration. “Projects like the new Interpretation Center at the Qianlong Garden, that bring people together in a spirit of inquiry and inclusiveness, are at the core of our practice,” said Selldorf Architects founder and principle Annabelle Selldorf. “It has been a great pleasure and honor to work with World Monuments Fund to create an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the Gardens and experience their beauty and wonder first-hand.”
Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) has upgraded its visual identity with a reorganized interior and a new facade by OMA’s Chris van Duijn. Since opening its doors 11 years ago, UCCA has become a center of the 798 Art District in Beijing, a cultural area that receives 5 million visitors per year but has long suffered from a lack of organization and an overall masterplan. Architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Qingyun Ma completed a full-scale renovation of the industrial spaces in 2007, but over the years, new architectural elements and patchwork renovations changed the original vision. OMA’s redesign is aimed at helping the museum recover its roots and create a distinctive sense of place. To do this, the design team focused on first revealing the three mid-century factories in which the artwork was housed. They demolished later additions and then restructured the internal program. Two major interventions were then made to enhance the museum’s transparency and engagement with the public. OMA created an informal auditorium that stretches from the inside to the exterior plaza and designed a thin glass veil facade. The wall lightly undulates and wraps around the auditorium, resembling a plastic sheath. According to OMA, the new “wrinkled geometries complement the formal appearance” of the original building, which is clad in red clay. “UCCA initially started as a pioneer in promoting Chinese contemporary art and has in the 11 years since become one of China’s leading institutes with a strong public relevance,” said Chris van Duijn, parter-in-charge of the project. “This current status is reflected in the new design through the public and dynamic character.” The project’s opening comes on the heels of OPEN Architecture’s recently-completed design for the UCCA Dune Art Museum, a satellite campus on China’s Gold Coast.
In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has pushed forward with large-scale and ambitious ideas, from the construction of an eco-city outside Beijing to the form-defying Harbin Opera House. Now, the southwestern city of Chengdu hopes to launch an illumination satellite functioning as an artificial moon by 2020. The purported goal of this interstellar adventure is to cast a dusk-like glow over the area below, significantly reducing nighttime energy use and, in turn, monthly electricity bills. The satellite would reflect sunlight onto Chengdu during the night. Reported by the People’s Daily, the man-made moon will work in tandem with the star’s nighttime illumination to further brighten the city below. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd, believes that the galactic device could light an area of significant size, ranging from a diameter of 4 to 50 miles. Located significantly closer to the earth, Chunfeng estimates that it could provide eight times as much iridescence as the moon. The Guardian notes that similar initiatives reflecting sunlight at night have proved successful in both Russia and Norway, albeit at a much smaller scale and ambition. Funding, or full state approval, has not yet been secured for the project.
The China House Vision is an architectural exhibition that images in the future of urban living for Beijing Design Week 2018. On view through November 4 at the Herzog and de Meuron–designed stadium in Beijing’s Olympic Park, the exhibit includes the work of ten internationally acclaimed designers whose work has been heavily influenced by topics concerning communication, energy consumption, artificial intelligence, and the sharing economy. Among the “dwellings of the future” is a prototypical living space for MUJI employees, the result of the collaborative work between MUJI, a Japanese retail company distinguished for its emphasis on minimalism and environmental design, and Japanese architect Go Hasegawa. MUJI gained inspiration for the project from the top floors of residential buildings in Shanghai, where 13-foot-tall spaces are taller than single-story dwellings require, yet too small for duplex apartments. MUJI sought to transform an awkward and uncooperative space in the stadium into a jungle of micro-apartments, particularly for staff members working at MUJI. The scheme, like MUJI, is both modern and minimalist with its use of fine lines, pure geometry, and colorless walls and ceilings. However, it also evokes historic sentiments through its use of a centrally positioned, three-dimensional unit reminiscent of the “canopy beds” found in traditional Chinese dwellings. The central unit, along with a series of thin wooden partitions, divides the various shared and private compartments of the home. A modest staircase leads to the private bedrooms, which are both austere and claustrophobic, each containing only built-in storage racks and a small bed. The lower level of the scheme functions as a shared space with an open and flexible floor plan. Shared household appliances such as air conditioning units, refrigerators, and washing machines are strategically and efficiently built into the walls of the compound. MUJI’s “no-frills” furniture is found throughout the scheme, adding to the dwelling’s already minimalist aesthetic. Through the scheme’s disentangled layout, colorless scenery, and placid décor, Go Hasegawa's prototypical dwelling of the future presents viewers with a glimpse of what it is like to live in an environment where hyper-functionalism and shared resources are commonplace.
AMO’s tradition of experimentation with imagery, jokey self-referential installations, and the power of perception has arrived in China. From now through August 14, True Me will be on display at the 798 Art Factory in Beijing, presenting guests with distorted selfies, monochrome rooms, and anime-inspired installations. True Me was organized in conjunction with AMO, the Chinese selfie app (and data vacuum) Meitu, and the Beijing Contemporary Arts Foundation to celebrate Meitu’s new logo. The show simultaneously skewers and celebrates “selfie culture”: wavy mirror walls wrap the exhibitions and line the show’s circulation, warping the reflections of guests as they move through the Art Factory. According to AMO, this is to show patrons their heavily post-produced “outer self” that social media users project on image sharing apps. The “inner self” is represented too, with six installations meant to evoke visitors’ raw, softer internal life. These spaces are covered in felt, flannel, and grass, and contain photogenic backdrops that were highly influenced by pop culture. Ironically enough, each installation is highly Instagrammable and will likely feature in just as many “outer self” photographs. The spaces range from neon-pink cosmetic mockups, to a faux arcade wallpapered with anime characters in dynamic poses, to a giant backlit eye, to a long purple hall containing alternative versions of the Meitu logo. True Me was led by OMA Partner and Asia Director Chris van Duijn and is AMO’s first exhibition in China. It’s far from AMO’s parent firm OMA’s first project in the country, however. Most recently the firm won a competition to master plan and design an enormous “Unicorn Island” in Chengdu.
Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the revolutionary suburban utopia Broadacre City in the 1930s. He could not have expected it to inspire artists designing the campus of an online shopping website in China more than eighty years later. China-based Drawing Architecture Studio exhibited a series of panoramic drawings called Taobao Village – Smallacre City at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year, which is a speculative design for the headquarters of Taobao, a Chinese consumer-to-consumer retail platform that garners 580 million monthly active users. Drawing Architecture Studio is a Beijing-based art, architecture and urban research practice cofounded by architect Han Li and designer Yan Hu. In Broadacre City, Wright envisioned that American cities would no longer be centralized and limited to a central business district. Instead, families, each given a one-acre plot of land, would be self-sufficient households commuting mostly with the automobile. His concepts are especially relevant today in China where the rural and urban divide highlights many problems of inequality and inefficiency. The Chinese drawing studio combines Wright’s ideals and a fresh perspective from modern China. The masterplan of Broadacre is used as the basis on which the village of Taobao, the Alibaba-owned, popular e-commerce website, is imagined. According to the architects, their proposal tries to speculate how Taobao and the Internet will contribute to China’s goal to integrate urban and rural economies. The village consists of transport infrastructure and distribution networks of the online shopping empire. Bridges, roads and conveyer belts cross over and intersect each other, constructing a layered, lively cityscape enclosing both the enterprise and the rural-urban complex. The illustrations employ elements from both the East and the West. The composition of the village is symmetrical and organized along a straight axis, recalling the organization of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Eclectic, Western-classical building motifs used in rural Chinese villages alongside traditional Buddhist statues and Chinoiserie columns are depicted in the illustrations. The drawings are part of the exhibition titled Building a future countryside in the Pavilion of China at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
The Serpentine Pavilion just went international after opening its first destination outside the U.K. in Beijing, China. The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing is open to the public from May 30 through October 31, on Wangfujing in the Dongcheng District. Cantilevering metal ribs span the WF CENTRAL public square, and are anchored by cables onto the ground’s steel slab. As architecture in Beijing regularly deals with strong winds and earthquakes, the form of the rib resembles the profile of a bow, which is a design symbolizing how a Tai Chi Master has the ability “to conquer the harshness of those forces [resistances to architecture] with softness.” The design of the renowned Chinese practice JIAKUN Architects, led by architect and educator Liu Jiakun, was chosen because it responds well to Beijing’s unique historic and social context. It also references the past 18 designs of Serpentine Pavilions in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, including works by Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and other key figures. JIAKUN Architects was inspired by Confucius’s invention of the traditional concept of Junzi, or the Exemplary Man. The pavilion presents a space for people to be enlightened and to contemplate on the Confucian philosophy. The design is reminiscent of the Liu’s previous works, which combines contemporary architecture issues with an approach influenced by Chinese folk wisdom. West Village – Basis Yard and Chengdu MOCA are among his other famous projects. The Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will be the venue for five “Pavilion Weekends” over the summer and will host a series of art, cultural and lifestyle programs. It will also include lectures by celebrated artists and architects, well-being workshops, lawn parties, children’s disco classes and outdoor art-cinemas. The Serpentine Galleries in London has commissioned a leading architect to design a temporary summer pavilion every year since 2000. This year they commissioned Mexican architect Frida Escobedo.
A plan to develop a major arts district and “eco-city” outside Beijing was announced by Guangdong Yuegang Investment Development on Thursday at the 16th Venice Biennale. Located in the Xinglong Valley, just 20 minutes from the city by high speed rail, Valley XL, as the project is being called, will feature a museum, an art park, arts education centers, and artists’ studios, as well as residential and commercial developments. The nearly 1,000 acre development is being overseen by Arquitectonica and the first building to open in 2019, the 8,500-square-foot Valley XL Art Center, a performance space, will be designed by Wang Zhenfei. Along with a center for modern and contemporary art, the Valley XL Museum, the Art Center will be a focal point of the development. The Art Newspaper reports that curator Li Zhenhua will be the advisor to Valley XL and the artist and filmmaker Ju Anqi will be the project video director. Valley XL is a partner of China’s 2018 pavilion, this year themed Building a Future Countryside, curated by Li Xiangxing. The pavilion is focused on the tensions—and innovations—present in the rapid modernization of the once or still rural areas of China. The pavilion presents projects that are being built or have taken place in the countryside over the last several years through installations organized by Dong Yugan, Zhang Lei, Liu Yuyang, Hua Li, Rural Urban Framework, and Philip F. Yuan. Construction on the $2.8 billion planned city, developed by Guangdong Yuegang Investment Development in partnership with Shenzhen XL Culture Development, is expected to begin the second half of this year.
During his visit to Beijing in 2013, Daan Roosegaarde, Dutch artist, designer, and innovator, discovered the air quality in the city was so poor that children were kept indoors and he was unable to see out the window of his hotel room. But Roosegaarde saw more in the smog than most; he saw the possibility for clean air for the people of Beijing. He returned to his team of designers at Studio Roosegaarde and they set to work on designing, building, and testing (what they claim is) the world’s largest air purifier. Standing at almost 23 feet high, the Smog Free Tower can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour using the same amount of electricity as a home water boiler (about 1,400 watts). According to Roosegaarde, the system can collect, capture, and turn to dust about 75% of dangerous PM2.5 and PM10 airborne smog particulates, creating a bubble of clean air in its midst. Studio Roosegaarde turned to Kickstarter to get the project going and were able to build their first Smog Free Tower in Rotterdam in September of 2015. One year later, with the support of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Smog Free Tower opened in Beijing’s 751 D.Park on the first stop of its global tour. “We warmly welcome Smog Free Project to Beijing,” said Liu Guozheng, Secretary-General of The China Forum of Environmental Journalists. “This project is key in our agenda to promote clean air as a ‘green lifestyle’ among Chinese citizens. Our goal is to guide the public to a healthier lifestyle, low carbon development and to raise awareness amongst the public and reduce smog.” Visitors have also enjoyed visiting the Tower during its stay, calling it the “clean air temple,” in reference to historic Chinese pagodas. During its stint in Beijing, the tower cleansed 30 million cubic meters of air, equivalent to the volume of 10 Beijing National Stadiums, and removed 400 grams of smog. The smog particulates collected from the tower’s Beijing stay have been used to create 300 limited edition Smog Free Rings, each crafted by a member of Roosegaarde’s design team. The purchase of the rings aids in the development of the project and its global tour. “Smog Free Project is about the dream of clean air and the beginning of a journey towards smarter cities,” said Roosegaarde. He and his team hope that the Smog Free Project will inspire citizens, governments, and other members of the tech industry to work together toward smog-free cities. To learn more about Smog Free Project, Smog Free Rings, and the Smog Free Tower’s next stop on its global tour, visit Studio Roosegaarde’s website here.
Beijing-based MAD Architects has revealed plans for the design its latest project, the China Philharmonic Hall. The 286,000-square foot music hall is located on a 2.86-acre property in Beijing’s Central Business District and has been designed in collaboration with acoustics expert Yasuhisa Toyota in an effort to create a state-of-the-art music venue for China’s capital city. Toyota was also an acoustics designer for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Philharmonie de Paris, and the Suntory Hall in Japan, and is known as a master in the field. The concert hall, surrounded on two sides by vegetation and a lotus pond, is designed to be approached through park areas and act as an urban refuge. In a press release from the firm, Ma Yansong, founder and principal at MAD Architects, describes the project as a place of respite in what is otherwise a hub of trade and commerce, saying, “We wanted to create a pure and sacred oasis in the midst of the bustling city.” He added, “From the moment you enter the building, you will be taken to another time and space.” Like many of MAD Architects’ recent projects, the building’s functional interior spaces—a 1,600-seat concert hall, a smaller 400-seat rehearsal hall, recording studio, library, gallery, offices, and rehearsal rooms—are all amassed together at the center of an otherwise airy and porous building. Flowing around the central building mass is a sinuous exterior facade made of translucent white panels that contain circulation and gathering spaces. The venue’s main concert hall is designed with a terraced seating arrangement made up of wooden platforms and is capped by a series of billowing white forms that are, according to the architects, inspired by the petals of the lotus flower. These surfaces will be used for projections during performances—all part of the effort to have a transformative effect on the venue's harried urban occupants. The project is scheduled to begin construction this year and is expected to be completed in 2019.
Beijing-based MAD Architects has completed work on the new Clover House kindergarten, the firm’s first project in Japan. The project deconstructs an existing catalog home, peeling away everything except its structure in order to expand the building’s footprint. Located in the Aichi Prefecture of central Japan, the school is operated by a pair of brothers who wanted to establish a facility that could be as comfortable as a home. MAD Architects principal Ma Yansong cites this impetus as the project's driving force, explaining in a press release, “It was important to create a kindergarten that felt like a home, and give the kids the best possible house to grow up in, one that promotes their learning and creativity.” The new bulbous, faceted structure billows around the preserved structural frame, which is now an informal space divider. One corner of the new house swoops down as it meets a new catenary-arched entrance while a second-floor slide descends onto an expansive playground. The interior spaces of the school weave through and climb over the remains of the existing home, with staircases bringing classrooms and play spaces onto what would have been the roof of the existing building. As with MAD Architects’ recent Xinhee Design Center in Beijing, China, the designers were inspired by the analogous relationship between bones and flesh that the existing beams and new covering reproduce: The roughly-hewn beams of the existing house play against the smooth blonde wood and gypsum articulation of the new interior spaces. The new skin, soft with plaster, is punched through by geometrically-shaped windows flood that flood the interior with light. Outside, the monolithic exterior is clad in white vernacular asphalt shingles.