Posts tagged with "China":

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Coronavirus-related slowdowns poised to pummel construction supply chain

While different cities grapple with how major construction projects should forge ahead—if at all—during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the shipping and sourcing of the raw materials used in said projects has slowed to a trickle. As the New York Times recently pointed out, real estate development is a wholly international affair when you consider that the disparate elements that comprise a single construction or renovation project come from, well, everywhere. A decent number of building materials such as concrete and lumber can be domestically sourced, but countries like Italy and China, both of which have been profoundly impacted by the pandemic, are major players in this normally robust global supply chain. In addition to items like Italian marble, Chinese copper, and ceramic tile from Brazil, Turkey, Spain, and elsewhere, a slew of materials and equipment­ sourced from across the globe—paving stones, lighting, electrical equipment, elevators, and so on—have become scarce or are at risk of becoming scarce stateside due to shipping delays, travel bans, shuttered factories, and decimated workforces. As noted by The Real Deal, imports, including construction materials, arriving at the Port of Los Angeles from China were down 23 percent in February when compared to the same period the previous year. Per the Times, these delays, however, have not prompted widespread layoffs within the construction industry itself—or at least not yet. “It’s not like when you build a house and can just go down to a Home Depot and get a different light fixture when you’re short,” Chris Heger, vice president of Seattle-based construction management firm OAC Services, told the Times. “This stuff is all designed and planned years in advance. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.” In-development projects have also been impacted by supply chain concerns, as lenders become increasingly uneasy about the unfolding situation and the overall viability of major developments that could potentially be halted mid-construction. “Lenders want to make sure they’re not going to be stuck with a half-completed project,” Frank J. Sciame Jr., chairman of New York-based builder Sciame Construction, told the Times. Many American builders already have the materials they need on-hand and, in turn, can commence with projects as planned (provided that the powers that be in some cities have deemed the project as being “essential”) according to The Real Deal. A number of importers have also stockpiled enough materials to keep the supply chain moving, albeit at a slowed pace, for a good while. But for exactly how long “a good while” and how large the impact ultimately is on the construction industry both remain uneasy, unanswered questions. “Have people experienced the impact yet? Probably not,” Mike Haller, president of Detroit-based builder Walbridge Aldinger Co., explained to Crain’s Detroit. “But will be impact come? Probably so. There’s regular building materials that come from China, for instance. There’s tiles that come from Italy. There’s stone that comes from Spain. There's curtain wall systems that come from Europe... It's gonna be impactful. How impactful, no one knows.”
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MVRDV designs a pancaked urban living room for Shenzhen

Rotterdam-based firm MVRDV has been selected as the winner of a competition to design the new Shimao ShenKong International Centre, a mixed-use collegiate complex to be built in Shenzhen, China’s Universiade New Town. Described as a “multi-level urban living room,” MVRVD’s typically captivating and interestingly massed concept, Shenzhen Terraces, beat out 27 other submissions from an array of international architecture firms. Founded in 2001, Shimao is one of China's largest real estate development companies. MVRDV's vision for the center doesn’t take the form of a single terraced building. Rather, the concept calls for a park-like campus populated by a cluster of “stacked plateaus” of various heights that will include a library, art gallery, and much more with an emphasis on culture- and education-focused programming. The largest layered structure, with its middle scooped out to form a monumental, semi-outdoor atrium, will feature a bus terminal and a conference center. All of the structures, which resemble flat sedimentary pebbles or stacks of thin misshapen pancakes, will be connected by a series of walkways that form a continuous, elevated pedestrian route throughout the just-north-of-one-million-square-foot compound. Although MVRDV has packed a lot in, Shenzhen Terraces will ultimately be a sheltered hangout space that shields students from the sometimes-brutal natural elements of South China. Writes MVRDV:
“The terraces are adapted to serve a diversity of functions: large overhangs shield the visitors from the hot sun, while offering places to sit and enjoy the view. These shaded terraces create places for plants and water basins that cool the verandas and create a climate buffer to the interiors. The edges of the terraces dip at strategic points to form connections between the various floors and to double as small outdoor auditoriums. In other places, the facades are pushed inwards to emphasize entrances and create recognizable places within the scheme to help visitors orient themselves.”
Like other MVRDV projects, Shenzhen Terraces was designed to have a low environmental impact, with the firm going as far to call it a “sustainable hub” for Shenzhen's sprawling Longgang District. “The abundant planting and water features reduce the local temperature and provide habitat for urban wildlife, while gardens and rainwater collection generate food and water resources,” writes the firm. “The concrete used in the buildings themselves will be made using recycled concrete as the aggregate, and photovoltaic panels will adorn extensive portions of the rooftops.” Openfabric, a young landscape architecture firm with offices in Rotterdam and Milan, collaborated with MVRDV to conceive Shenzhen Terrace’s expansive landscaping scheme that includes publicly accessible green roofs (on roof sections that aren’t populated by photovoltaic panels), grassy manmade hills, reflecting pools, tree-shaded plazas, “activity zones” for various recreational pursuits, and oblong green patches tucked beneath the terraces which “host planting that imitates the sub-tropical natural forests of the region.” “Shenzhen has developed so quickly since its origins in the 1970s,” MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas said in a press statement. “In cities like this, it is essential to carefully consider how public spaces and natural landscape can be integrated into the densifying cityscape. The urban living room of the Shimao ShenKong International Centre will be a wonderful example of this, and could become a model for the creation of key public spaces in New Town developments throughout Shenzhen. It aims to make an area that you want be outside, hang out and meet, even when it is hot—a literally cool space for the university district, where all communication space can be outside. It will truly be a public building.” Shenzhen Terraces is in-development and no construction date has been given.
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Sam Jacob designs ambiguous street shelter in Shenzhen

A most unusual object has recently been installed on a street corner of the former Yantian port district of Shenzhen, China, that may at first appear to be a peace offering from an alien race. Designed by the London-based architecture firm Sam Jacob Studio (SJS), the Yantian Dolmen is a part of a family of urban furniture elements that blur the distinction between art and design. The Yantian Dolmen was commissioned for the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture of Shenzhen and Hong Kong (UABB 2019) and responds to the year’s theme of “Urban Interactions” by inspiring curiosity and social engagement in its appropriation. The piece was designed in a nod to the dolmen, a type of megalithic tomb structure developed in the early Neolithic period over five thousand years ago. Much as how present-day archaeologists continue to question the role they served during the Stone Age, the Yantian Dolmen is a willfully unconventional street furniture piece with a range of uses limited only by the public imagination. Because its role and meaning might therefore change over time, Sam Jacob, founder of SJS, described the piece in a statement as a “social sculpture” whose use always remains provisional rather than fixed, and on his Instagram as a “municipal dolmen/shelter/porch structure.” “In the dolmen,” Jacob wrote in a statement, “elements of Neolithic monument merge with everyday contemporary shelters to create a more ambiguous formal arrangement.” Two abstracted triangular blocks and two steel tubes recalling urban hazard equipment hold up a massive chunk of ‘stone’ to create an overall form that appears both impossibly heavy and partially airborne. The Yantian Dolmen is the latest in a series of projects SJS is producing that combines elements of ancient and contemporary cultures, including the MK Menhir, a 1:1 replica of an Avebury standing stone on a porte cochère northwest of England, a replica of a clay beaker found at a Middle Bronze Age burial site fabricated using contemporary fabrication tools, and the Archaeographic House, a design proposal hybridizing the 4,000-year-old dwelling of Skara Brae on Orkney, Scotland, with the Alison and Peter Smithson’s House of the Future designed in 1956.  A dolmen-inspired accessory dwelling unit designed by Anna Neimark was also recently on view at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) that, much like the Yantian Dolmen, recalls “the architecture of forgotten narratives, eroded tectonics, and mud­dled grammar.”
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Wuhan shutters all temporary hospitals as COVID-19 risk dissipates

Some good news out of Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province and epicenter for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that's now intensifying elsewhere across the globe. Authorities have suspended operations at all 16 of the city’s temporary hospitals—most erected and put into operation with remarkable speed and efficiency—as the infection rate across the greater Wuhan region continues to plummet following an aggressive, nearly two-month-long quarantine period. The temporary facilities were established with the express purpose of treating patients suffering from symptoms of coronavirus. The first of these makeshift hospitals discharged its last group of recovered patients on March 1. The news of the hospitals’ closure comes at roughly the same time as Chinese state media declared that the spread of the virus has been constrained in Hubei and beyond, with only new 19 new cases being reported as of March 9, all of them in Wuhan, a significant drop from just the day before. In total, Chinese officials have reported 80,754 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began in late December. There have been 3,136 resulting deaths in China, with the first being reported on January 11. To mark the encouraging milestone, President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began, where he relayed, per the BBC, that the virus had been “basically curbed” in the region. “Initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan,” said Xi. President Xi’s visit to Wuhan included a stopover at the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital, where he “visited” on-their-way-out patients and medical staff via video. Encompassing 645,000 square feet, Huoshenshan (“Mount Fire God”) Hospital was one of two field hospitals built-from-scratch on the outskirts of Wuhan, China’s 9th most populous city, in under 10 days using modular construction methods. This approach, taking a direct page from a prefab hospital erected in Beijing during the 2003 SARS outbreak, was in lieu of repurposing large existing structures such as convention centers and stadiums as was the case with most of the city’s other temporary medical facilities. Construction of Huoshenshan Hospital kicked off on January 23 was completed on February 2, with its first patients being admitted the next morning. A sister facility erected from prefabricated modules, Leishenshan (“Mount Thunder God”) Hospital, opened on February 8 in a massive disused parking lot in the neighboring Jiangxia district. “China has a record of getting things done fast, even for monumental projects like this,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC when work on Huoshenshan Hospital was first underway. “Engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for Westerners to imagine. It can be done.” With ample room to accommodate between 1,500 and 2,000 patients and a 1,260-person-strong medical staff, the largest of Wuhan’s now-closed coronavirus treatment centers, dubbed the Wuhan Living Room Temporary Hospital, took over a major exhibition center. While transforming an expo center into a massive emergency medical center practically overnight was obviously quite a feat of planning and logistics, the hospital didn’t receive as grandiose a name as its swiftly realized modular counterparts. Dr. Zhang Junjian, a neurologist at Wuhan University and the director of the Wuhan Living Room hospital, told the Associated Press at the end of February that he expected operations to end in “maybe in mid-March or during the last ten days of March because fewer patients are being admitted and the number of patients being discharged is gradually increasing now.” “If nothing special happens, I expect the operation of our makeshift hospital, the biggest one in Wuhan, could complete its historical mission by the end of March,” he added. Based on the news coming out of China, that much-anticipated day came even earlier than expected. As China basks in these encouraging developments and its president takes a very public victory lap, the spread of the virus shows no signs of slowing elsewhere including in heavily ravaged Italy, which recently enacted an unprecedented nationwide shut-down for all 60 million of its residents following a regional quarantine that was limited to the country's northern regions. This week, Italy also recorded the highest single-day fatality rate—168 people killed by the virus in 24 hours—since the outbreak began. The United States, particularly the Seattle metro area and suburban New York City, has also experienced an alarming uptick in confirmed cases over the last several days.
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Here are the architecture and design events postponed because of coronavirus

Spring is traditionally the season when the international architecture and design community looks forward to the year’s biggest and buzziest exhibitions, events, and openings. This spring is different. As health officials brace for a possible global pandemic, a rapidly spreading outbreak of coronavirus (COVD-19) is hitting the design world, geographically speaking, where it hurts most. Outside of mainland China, where the virus originated in the city of Wuhan, and in South Korea, the most reported cases of coronavirus are in Italy, with a vast majority being in the northern Lombardy region. As a result, the organizers of Salone del Mobile in Milan, the world’s largest furniture trade show, pushed the annual event back two months. While the 2020 Milan Fashion Week was not postponed earlier this month, some shows were notably altered while China’s formidable showing of designers, buyers, and journalists sat this year out due to mounting travel restrictions. As Women’s Wear Daily reported, a handful of major U.S.-based media outlets that sent fashion editors to Milan are advising—and some mandating—their staffers self-quarantine by working from home for two weeks. Meanwhile, China’s own big upcoming fashion events, China Fashion Week in Beijing and Shanghai Fashion Week, have been delayed (some creative workarounds, however, have been hatched). Outside of design fairs, architecture exhibitions, and fashion shows, the status of what’s perhaps the biggest global event to take place this year, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, remains uncertain although there are no immediate plans to cancel at this point. The World Health Organization (WHO) is advising the Swiss-based International Olympics Committee as to how to proceed. Below is a non-exhaustive list of cultural events, programs, and openings—the focus is on art, architecture, and design—that have been rescheduled or outright canceled due to what the WHO has deemed a “global emergency.AN will continue to add to this list as needed.

United States

2020 Tall + Urban Innovation Conference, Chicago: The Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat has postponed its upcoming conference in Chicago scheduled for April 5-7. AIGA Design Conference, Pittsburgh: The Professional Association for Design's annual conference, scheduled to kick-off at the end of this month in Pittsburgh, has been rescheduled for November 12-14. AIA Conference on Architecture 2020, Los Angeles: The American Institute of Architects has canceled its 2020 conference, which was scheduled to take place May 14-16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The AIA is "exploring options to reschedule." The Architectural Digest Design Show, New York City: Scheduled for March 19-22 at Manhattan's Pier 94, the annual AD Design Show has been pushed back to June 25-28. The Architecture League of New York: In an email sent to members and friends, The Architecture League of New York announced the cancelation of a slew of upcoming lectures and events, including a series of lectures by the 2020 winners of the Emerging Voices program. The lectures will be rescheduled for a later date. Frieze New York:  Scheduled to commence May 7, the New York edition of the massive annual art fair has been canceled. Frieze London is still a go for October 8-11 as of this writing. The Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Harvard GSD has canceled all of its upcoming spring events and public programming. The school itself, like many colleges and universities across America, has shifted to online coursework. The International Contemporary Furniture Fair, New York City: ICFF will return to its home at Manhattan's Javits Center in May 2021. The National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.: The National Building Museum is postponing its March 13 reopening following a three-month closure to complete extensive renovations. All special educational programming and events scheduled through April 30 will also be canceled or postponed. NeoCon, Chicago: Bustling annual commercial design fair NeoCon will not be held June 8-10 at Chicago's Merchandise Mart as scheduled. NYCxDesign: Scheduled to kick off May 12, this five-borough design bonanza features openings, installations, talks, and open houses. It's been rescheduled for October to coincide with a slew of existing planned architecture and design events including Arctober and Open House New York. The Shed, New York City: The Shed cultural center at Hudson Yards has suspended all performances and events through March 30. South by Southwest, Austin, Texas: The massive annual tech, music, film, and arts festival—along with all auxiliary conferences and events associated with it—has been canceled by the City of Austin. It was slated to kick off March 13 and run through March 22. "We are exploring options to reschedule the event and are working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU," reads the SXSW website. The Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles: SCI-Arc is postponing its upcoming slate of public programming through April 7. WantedDesign Brooklyn, WantedDesign Manhattan: The next edition of the popular two-borough annual design show WantedDesign will  be in 2021. “Having anticipated celebrating our 10th anniversary with our dear NYC friends and international design community, we are genuinely disappointed not to be able to proceed with our May exhibitions in Manhattan and Brooklyn as planned,” reads a post on the WantedDesign Facebook page.

Mainland China

China International Furniture Fair, Guangzhou: The 2020 edition of this long-running furniture fair was set to take place March 18-21 at Guangzhou’s Canton Fair Complex. It’s been postponed and be held on a yet-to-be-determined date. Design Shanghai: Asia’s largest international contemporary design fair was scheduled to take place March 12 through 15 at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center. It has been rescheduled for May 26 to 29. “We have made this decision based on advice and information from government and local authorities,” reads the Design Shanghai website, “in China and consultation with our partners, venue and local team. The safety of our customers and team is our first priority. The venue and layout will stay the same and we will keep you fully informed of any further developments.” Festival of Design, Shanghai: As reported by Architectural Digest, this interdisciplinary lecture series launched by architecture practice Neri&Hu and held concurrently to Design Shanghai has been canceled. He Art Museum opening, Shunde, Guangdong: The unveiling of the Tadao Ando-designed He Art Museum (HEM) in the Guangdong province has been pushed back from its original March 21 opening date. The museum “is looking forward to finding a suitable date for which will be announced in due course” reads a notice announcing the postponement. JINGART, Beijing: The third edition of this hip nascent art fair has been canceled. It was scheduled to take place May 21 through 24 at the Beijing Expo Center. Shenzhen International Furniture Exhibition: Held annually in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, this highly attended event was scheduled for March 18-21. It has been postponed. X Museum, Beijing: The March opening of this Millenial-focused private art museum, launched by young collectors Theresa Tese and Michael Xufu Huang, has been postponed.

Dubai

Art Dubai: On March 3, organizers of the annual art fair, now in its 14th year, announced that it would be postponed. It was originally slated for March 25-28.

Germany

Light + Building, Frankfurt: The massive annual lighting and home automation trade show scheduled for March 8-13 at Messe Frankfurt has been postponed after “extensive consultations.” It will now take place through September 27 through October 2.

Hong Kong

Art Basel Hong Kong: The Hong Kong edition of Art Basel, which was scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Conference and Exhibition Centre from March 19 to 21, has been canceled. As the Art Basel website reads: “We remain committed to Hong Kong and look forward to welcoming you to the next edition of Art Basel Hong Kong on March 25-27, 2021.”  M+ Matters: Archigram Cities: The opening of this highly anticipated series of events showcasing the archives of English avant-garde collective Archigram at visual culture museum M+ was delayed on February 12. A new opening date is forthcoming.

Italy

Expocasa, Turin: The start of the long-running trade show, focusing on interior design and renovation, has been pushed back from February 29 to March 28. Fuorisalone, Milan: Fuorisalone, an informal series of events that take place across Milan's different design districts in conjunction with Salone del Mobile, has been postponed to coincide with the rescheduled furniture fair in June. Salone del Mobile, Milan: On February 25, the organizers of Salone del Mobile announced that the international furniture fair was moving from April 21 to 26 to June 16 through 21 as health officials worked to contain the spread of coronavirus in the heavily impacted Lombardy region. Organizers launched a Twitter hashtag #salonemovestojune to help spread the word, proclaiming: "We can't stop. We won't stop." Syracuse University School of Architecture, Florence: The central New York-based university has suspended all of its spring semester study abroad programs in the Tuscan city. This includes the School of Architecture's popular Florence program based at Villa Rossa and Palazzo Donatello. Various other colleges and universities with campuses in Florence have also canceled their spring semesters. Venice Architecture Biennale: The start date of the 17th edition of the Biennale, curated by Hashim Sarkis, has been pushed back to August 29 by organizer La Biennale di Venezia. It was scheduled to commence on May 23. Despite the delay, the exhibition will still conclude on November 29.

South Korea

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul: Housed in buildings designed by Jean Nouvel, Mario Botta, and REM Koolhaas, this popular art museum is closed until further notice. Several other galleries and museums in Seoul are also temporarily shuttered.
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How will the coronavirus affect global construction commodities?

The coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China, is anticipated to negatively impact the global trade of raw materials in the coming months. According to market analytics company S&P Global Platts, the consumption and processing of commodities like iron ore and steel are likely to dip throughout the country and cause ripple effects in economics throughout the world. What’s not clear is how severe the situation will get. In late January, China announced it would shut down over two-thirds of its economy due to the outbreak that started in Wuhan city. Since the Chinese Lunar New Year began as the virus spread, many companies across the mainland have halted production and construction crews have paused work as an extension of the holiday break. Fourteen provinces, including the major manufacturing hub of Hubei where Wuhan is located, and other metropolitan areas such as the port city of Shanghai, will be on lockdown until next week. Fortune noted that those regions make up 90 percent of the country’s copper smelting, 60 percent of its steel manufacturing, and 40 percent of coal output.  Normally during Lunar New Year, companies stop or reduce production, but the recent three-day extension of the holiday—largely due to transportation restrictions to and from quarantined areas and to encourage people to stay home—may cause an added riff in planned-manufacturing and eventually quarterly sales. Bloomberg noted that any changes in China’s steel industry, specifically, “which accounts for more than half global output, set the tone for producers and users around the world.”  Some experts say the impact won’t be felt until next month—S&P Global Platts said February is typically the weakest time of the year for metal output in China since demand is low due to the holiday. Construction is also normally slow because of the colder weather. London-based analytics organization Argus believes after the extended Lunar New Year break is officially over, the market for products like rebar and coil will drop while “the downstream market will be reduced, pushing back demand for finished steel products.”  Despite these fears, China’s most influential steel group, the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), called for industry stability and asked steel companies not to inflate steel prices because of the declining demand. Reuters reported that CISA wants mills to “reasonably adjust their production rhythms” and “jointly safeguard hard-won ‘de-capacity’ results” in order to maintain profitability and reach levels of normalcy later in the year.  Both in China and worldwide, the long-term effects of the coronavirus are still up in the air. The World Health Organization reported this week that 24 countries have confirmed cases of the outbreak, though most resulted from contact with people who had come directly from China and Wuhan, where 563 people have died. Meanwhile, China is expected to lift its tariff on coking coal, which is used for making steel soon, leaving some U.S.-based mining companies ready to once again sell in the Chinese market.
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China opens 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital built in less than 10 days

As promised, China has completed the first of two emergency hospitals it is building to address the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan, and it did so in less than 10 days. A second hospital is scheduled for completion on Wednesday, less than two weeks after construction began. The Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital on the outskirts of Wuhan City was delivered to the People’s Liberation Army on February 2 and reportedly began receiving patients on February 3, starting with a group of 50. The 269,000-square-foot facility has 1,000 beds and was built to serve exclusively as a treatment and quarantine center for patients with the 2019-nCoV virus that has much of the country on lockdown. Images on China Global Television Network (CGTN), a government-run media agency, show a two-story facility with a series of wards connected by long corridors. There are two beds to a room, and the rooms are equipped with start of the art medical equipment such as a through-the-wall ultraviolet disinfectant system that the staff uses to deliver food and other supplies to patients. The government has been live-streaming footage of the construction to show how it is responding to the outbreak. Officials say they were able to build the hospital so quickly because they used prefabricated modules that could be assembled on-site, and people worked around the clock in shifts to assemble the components. A second facility known as the Leishenshan (Thunder God Mountain) Hospital, with 1,600 beds, is nearing completion and scheduled to open Wednesday in a different section of Wuhan, 15 miles from the first hospital. Government officials initially said it would have 1,300 beds but increased the number to 1,600 while the building was under construction. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, is the epicenter of the virus. City officials took the lead on building the structure, working with the country’s health ministry and others. The construction process for both facilities is modeled after the one used to build the Xiaotangshan Hospital, which China built in 2003 to treat patients during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and is still in operation. More than 7,000 people from around the country reportedly came together to build Huoshenshan Hospital. Construction workers were reportedly paid three times their usual salary. The hospital has a 1,400-member staff drawn from the country’s armed forces, including the People’s Liberation Army Joint Logistic Support Force and medical universities run by the army, navy and air force. The need for the two hospitals has been demonstrated by the way the virus has spread just since construction started. When sitework began for the first hospital on January 23, the death toll in China was 26 with 830 people diagnosed with the virus. By the time the first hospital was delivered, mainland China had reported more than 360 deaths due to the virus and over 9,700 people infected. Wuhan’s cases of infection had risen from 495 to 4,109 during the same period. Worldwide, more than 17,000 cases have been reported on four continents. The United States has had 11 cases of novel coronavirus as of February 3. On Friday, the U. S. government declared the virus a public health emergency and suspended entry for most foreign nationals who visited China. The World Health Organization has also declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency but leaders have praised China for its response to the virus. “We would have seen many more cases outside China by now, and probably deaths, if it were not for the government’s efforts and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “China’s response has been really remarkable and, quitely frankly, unprecedented,” Dr. Carlos Del Rio, professor of medicine and global health at Emory University, told CNN. “They have learned a lot from SARS and I think they are applying those lessons in controlling this outbreak.”
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Zaha Hadid Architects reveals a bulbous headquarters for Chinese smartphone company

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has unveiled its competition-winning vision for OPPO’s new headquarters in Shenzhen, China—a bulbous set of interconnected towers straight out of the space age. The Chine smartphone manufacturing giant selected ZHA’s enormous proposal after sifting through a shortlist that included Bjarke Ingels Group, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Henning Larsen Architects. Slated for construction in downtown Shenzhen, ZHA’s civic-centric master plan features four glass buildings split into varying heights across a total of 1.9 million square feet. The tallest tower will house 42 floors full of open-plan office space that connects with another tower via a 20-story vertical lobby. Another pair of external towers, smaller in height, will provide circulation for the main structures. Set near the Shenzhen Bay, the globular buildings will provide ample access to daylight and views of the city with their translucent facades for employees and the visitors.  As the fifth largest communication technology company in the world, OPPO experienced rapid global growth since introducing its first smartphone in 2008 and has set out to establish a new space in Shenzhen to house a fraction of its over 40,000 global employees. While the building will be designed to cater largely to its work in tech innovation, OPPO is also aiming to make its new HQ open to the public. To achieve this, ZHA incorporated several levels of public space within the structures, including a Sky Plaza on its 10th floor and a rooftop sky lab with a bar and observation lounge. An outdoor public plaza will also cut through the base of the site, which curves in at the bottom, and gives access to the various shops, galleries, and restaurants located one the first levels of the buildings.  The project is expected to be LEED Gold certified upon completion in 2025 and construction is anticipated to start later this year. The headquarters is just one of the many monumental projects announced for Shenzhen recently, including what will be the tallest tower in China by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill. 
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China is building a 1,000 bed hospital in six days to deal with coronavirus

China’s Wuhan City, the capital of Hubei, is building a 1,000-bed hospital in six days in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has the city on lockdown, and it plans to build a second dedicated hospital with 1,300 beds over a two-week period. Sitework for the first hospital began last Thursday, when dozens of bulldozers began clearing land on the outskirts of Wuhan, a city of 11 million, where the novel coronavirus reportedly originated. Since then, more than 100 workers have converged on the site in Wuhan’s Caidian district. Local authorities are spearheading the construction effort and have set February 3 as the target date for completing the first facility, the Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital. According to the South China Morning Post, Huoshenshan Hospital will be both a quarantine and treatment center reserved for people infected with the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which has been blamed for causing the deaths of 80 people and infecting thousands since last month. The primary reason the first facility can be built so quickly is that much of it will consist of prefabricated structures, more than 20 in all, built elsewhere and then installed on the site. A site plan published by the Morning Post showed that the first Wuhan hospital will be a low rise structure with a series of wards for patient care. The prefabricated modules, one to two stories high, will be separated by outdoor space and connected by central corridors. The completed facility will be 269,000 square feet and will hold approximately 1,000 beds, according to The People’s Daily, a state-run media agency. Construction workers are reportedly being paid three times their usual wages because the government considers it an emergency. CITIC Pacific Properties, a subsidiary of CITIC Limited in Hong Kong, has worked with local officials and China’s Ministry of Health to design the Huoshenshan Hospital. China State Construction Engineering is one of the lead builders. “It’s basically a quarantined hospital where they send people with infectious diseases so it has the safety and protective gear in place,” Joan Kaufman, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, told the BBC. “China has a record of getting things done fast, even for monumental projects like this,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC. Because it is an authoritarian country, China can overcome bureaucracy and financial constraints and mobilize a large workforce quickly, added Huang, who is also a professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. “Engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for Westerners to imagine. It can be done.” People with the 2019-nCoV virus develop flu-like symptoms that can lead to pneumonia, including a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Existing hospitals and “fever clinics” in Wuhan and other cities have been overwhelmed by people exhibiting symptoms and seeking treatment; especially as the country has locked down Wuhan and a total of 56 million residents in quarantine. Construction of the new medical facilities is one of many measures the Chinese government is taking to address the spread of the virus, along with closing tourist destinations such as Shanghai Disneyland and Beijing’s Forbidden City. On Saturday, the People’s Daily reported that Wuhan plans to build a second hospital, Leishenshan Hospital, designed to accommodate 1,300 patients. The target occupancy date for that project is mid-February. Government leaders say the process for both projects is modeled on a hospital that China built in 2003 to treat patients during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). That facility, the Xiaotangshan Hospital, was built in Beijing in seven days and eventually was the location where one-seventh of the country’s SARS patients were treated. At the time, the project set a world record for hospital construction. More than 4,000 people worked day and night to build the SARS hospital in 2003, according to news reports at the time. In addition to patient wards, it had an X-ray room, intensive care unit, laboratory and other medical facilities, and according to officials, Wuhan’s hospitals will be comparable in size to the 2003 facility.
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Zaha Hadid Architects completes twisting tower with the world's tallest atrium

The long-held title of "world’s tallest atrium" has jumped from a building in Dubai to a new tower in Beijing. The recently-opened Leeza SOHO by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) boasts a 623-foot-tall twisting, open-air interior that beats out the Burj Al Arab hotel by 23 feet.  Located in the southwest corner of the city, the 45-story skyscraper sits in the heart of the burgeoning Lize Financial Business District near the area’s main transit hub. It features 1.8 million square feet of commercial office space spread across the two bisected volumes, connected by four sky bridges within the adjoining structural rings. The area in between the two halves makes up the full-height atrium, which spirals upward at a 45-degree angle in order to maximize the amount of light able to reach every floor.  ZHA had to slice the interior of Leeza SOHO in half due to ongoing work on the nearby subway. The building sits at the intersection of five new lines and is atop a below-grade service tunnel. From the outside, the structure doesn’t necessarily look divided; double-insulated, low-e glazing encases the entirety of both volumes like a shell, reducing energy consumption and emissions. During the day, however, the sun shines through the middle of the facility and reveals the void in its center.  Other sustainability interventions include a high-efficiency heating and cooling system, as well as a greywater-collection method. The project is on track to receive LEED Gold certification.  Construction on the project began in April 2015 and took just over four years to complete. ZHA co-developed the building with SOHO China and worked with The Beijing Institute of Architectural Design as the architect-of-record. The tower was one of the final projects designed by Zaha Hadid before her passing in 2016.
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Safdie Architects completes first phase of enormous mixed-use complex with horizontal skyscraper

The first phase of Raffles City Chongqing, a 22.7-acre skyscraper development in the burgeoning city of Chongqing in southwestern China, has been recently completed. Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, Raffles City is sited on the waterfront of the Yuzhong District made up of eight vertical skyscrapers and one “horizontal skyscraper,” comprising a total of 11 million square feet of occupiable space. Raffles City is the fourth project Safdie Architects has designed in collaboration with Capitaland, one of the largest real estate developers based in Asia, and is by far the largest project the firm has ever built. The first phase of the development’s completion was signaled by the opening of a five-story mall within a retail podium, 95 percent of which has already been leased. According to Capitaland, the mall alone is expected to accommodate 400,000 daily visitors across its 2.5 million square feet of retail space. When complete, five of the Raffles City towers will be primarily residential with approximately 1,400 luxury apartments (one of which, at 1,150 feet tall, will become the tallest residential tower in China when complete), while the others will accommodate a total of 1.6 million square feet of office space, 380 hotel rooms and several other programs. Perched above four of the towers is a 980-foot-long "horizontal skyscraper," named The Crystal, which will contain gardens, dining spaces, a clubhouse and an infinity pool set within its cylindrical expanse. This distinct feature recalls the Skypark, a three-acre recreational space resting atop the three skyscrapers constituting the Marina Bay Sands Hotel the firm completed in Singapore in 2010. From a distance, the curved facades of Raffles City are designed to recall the prow-like arcs of “a fleet of ancient Chinese ships,” according to the architects. Safdie Architects began designing Raffles City eight years ago and, with international company Arup Group as the structural engineers and LEED consultants, the building is working towards LEED Gold Level certification. Following the landmark opening of Raffles City’s first phase, the remaining majority of the megadevelopment is anticipated to open by the middle of 2020.
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China’s Belt and Road Initiative is tying the world together—but what's the end game?

In addition to the more infamous killing and pillaging conducted by its various hordes, the Mongol Empire, first led by Genghis Khan and later by his grandson Kublai, brought nearly all of Asia, much of the Middle East, and some of Europe under a unified system of trade and commerce in the 13th century. Consolidating ancient Silk Road mercantile connections, it brought currency into widespread use and generally sought win-win trade deals with conquered territories. While that empire faded by the mid-14th century, it gave the world a precursor to the modern-day state of China, which has embarked on its own ambitious—and, to some, unsettling—quest to link a considerable portion of the world through trade.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by Chinese president Xi Jinping, includes hundreds of infrastructure projects financed and constructed in part or in whole by Chinese entities in lands far beyond China’s borders. Projects include ports, airports, rail lines, utilities, industrial centers, highways, and even entire new cities and urban sectors. “Belt” refers to roads and railways while, paradoxically, “road” refers to sea-lanes; together they aim for nothing less than the unification of almost all of Asia and Africa.

The initiative segments the globe into “corridors” and involves differing levels of participation from host countries. There is no official count of participating countries, but estimates range from 60—covering nearly all of Asia—to well over one hundred. The BRI’s six main economic corridors include the New Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Central Asia–West Asia Economic Corridor, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Bangladesh–China–Myanmar Economic Corridor, the China–Mongolia–Russia Economic Corridor, and the China–Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor.

Analysts estimate that trade generated by the BRI reached $117 billion last year. The total estimated cost, by 2027: up to $1.3 trillion. Whether that investment will pay off for China remains to be seen. Chinese banks and companies hope to profit from loan payments and contracts; the Chinese state hopes to benefit by opening markets and gaining influence. The World Bank estimates that the BRI could reduce transportation times on many corridors by 12 percent, increase trade between 2.7 percent and 9.7 percent, increase income by up to 3.4 percent, and lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty.

Consisting largely of heavy infrastructure, these projects are unlikely to result in lavish Xanadus to stoke the architectural imagination. With the exception of some impressive new cities and city districts, such as Port City in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and some choice high-speed rail stations, BRI projects include workaday structures like cargo terminals, highway bridges, and the odd potash plant. The BRI recalls past geopolitical initiatives, like the Marshall Plan, by which the United States revived, and benefited from, Europe’s economy after World War II. But the BRI dwarfs the Marshall Plan, which comprised $13 billion of investment, or around $100 billion in today’s dollars—much less than BRI’s trillion-dollar scope.

As arguably the biggest collection of construction projects in human history, the BRI offers ample opportunities for architects, contractors, engineers, and other designers. Many, if not most, of the firms involved are Chinese concerns with close ties to the state. They include state-owned enterprises like China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation, the world’s third-largest shipping company and largest construction company, respectively. Both are massive enterprises with numerous subsidiaries, and though they are publicly traded, they ultimately answer to the Chinese Communist Party.

In many ways, this effort to build soft power through hard infrastructure extends a domestic development strategy that China has followed for the past two decades. Itself a developing nation not long ago, China has built up its own ports, roads, and railroads in order to unify its national economy and give its manufacturing sector—which comprises 20 percent of the world’s output of goods—access to global markets.

The Chinese government optimistically refers to the BRI as a 21st-century Silk Road, one that harmoniously links economies and increases prosperity for dozens of countries and billions of people, representing up to 60 percent of the world’s economic output. China pitches these projects to host countries as tools of economic development. Analysts say that success, for China and BRI partners alike, depends on far more than concrete and steel. The onus falls on host countries to make use of China’s largesse. Efficient trade relies on everything from effective local governance to the mobility of workers to the mitigation of environmental impacts. In the case of partners like Belarus (sometimes referred to as Europe’s last dictatorship) whose governments are unstable, corrupt, or underdeveloped, reforms may pose greater challenges than does the development of megaprojects.

In many cases, benefits to host countries have not materialized. Many projects use little local expertise or labor; rather, they are boons for Chinese engineering firms, construction companies, and suppliers such as steel and concrete manufacturers. Once built, they take on a nearly colonial tenor, moving raw materials out of host countries and moving Chinese goods into them. And no matter how economists feel about BRI projects, the initiative has already alarmed environmentalists. The number and physical size of projects promise to remake urban landscapes, alter—and destroy—natural landscapes, and consume untold millions of tons of natural resources, building materials, and fossil fuels. Chinese environmental laws and practices are also notoriously lax compared to those in the U.S. and Europe. In 2017 the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued a report documenting BRI projects’ numerous incursions into sensitive habitats. WWF identified “high impacts” throughout nearly all of Southeast Asia and “moderate impacts” in BRI corridors in Central Asia. BRI projects have also been associated with increases in the use of coal for power production in many host countries. 

Beyond environmental effects, even when host countries own their assets, they are indebted to Chinese financiers. Reports indicate that many countries cannot pay off construction loans, leaving them indebted to China indefinitely. Many projects have turned into white elephants. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Sri Lanka was designed to accommodate one million passengers per year. Though fully operational, Mattala currently serves zero passengers, while also servicing $190 million in debt to Chinese banks. Having been a relatively poor, developing country so recently, China likely understands the pressure points of the Myanmars and Mozambiques of the world better than any other global power does.

The Center for Global Development estimates that as many as eight countries involved with the BRI are already at risk of debt distress. Some countries are in debt to China by a factor of as much as 20 percent of their GDPs. Others are now approaching BRI proposals more gingerly than they might have when the program launched. Malaysia recently canceled $22 billion in BRI projects; other countries, particularly Kenya and Mozambique, are pushing back against proposals and renegotiating deals. Ultimately, economic domination via financing may not be a great strategy—flush with cash though they may be, Chinese banks want returns on their investments no less than Western banks do. Then again, even if they aren’t repaid, the Chinese state might still get what it wants in the form of global influence.

In other words, the BRI is as much a geopolitical experiment as it is an economic development strategy.

Josh Stephens is contributing editor to The California Planning & Development Report and author of the forthcoming The Urban Mystique: Notes on Los Angeles, California, and Beyond.