Posts tagged with "China":

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Shanghai mall offers special refuge for husbands shopping with their wives

When wives or girlfriends utter the phrase "Let's go shopping!" on a Saturday afternoon, husbands and boyfriends may groan at the thought of the impending boredom, or find themselves suddenly paralyzed by the fear of hours on end in the women's section of local department stores. In an effort to create a more pleasant mall experience for both genders, the Vanke Mall in Shanghai recently opened a "Husband Nursery." The space (originally reported on by China Daily) is equipped with lounge chairs, a massage chair, a television, a fridge, magazines, and newspapers. Husbands and boyfriends can relax while their wives and girlfriends are cruising the shopping floors. When those ladies are all spent and ready to go, they'll know where to find their significant others. Located in Qibao, a smaller town in the Minhang District of Shanghai, Vanke Mall also offers a Tree House playground for kids.
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This master plan calls for a brand new city to alleviate China’s water issues

Chicago-based UrbanLab has a knack for combining water infrastructure with architecture and landscape to find new urban forms. In the 2014 Venice Biennale, the studio presented the Free Water District (FWD), an urban-scale multiuse, multi-environment development that would encourage industry through a controlled, but free, use of Great Lakes water. In its latest commission, UrbanLab has been asked to address an even more complex urban situation in China.

The Yangming Archipelago in Changde, Hunan, China, will be a new district that will accommodate 600,000 people in five square miles. Changde is part of a larger program in China to implement large water-infrastructure projects in order to improve urban water quality. At the heart of the project is an island-filled lake, which will act as an ecological, as well as a social and cultural space. The Yangming Archipelago also includes a dense system of public transportation and housing, integrated into eco-boulevards.

Eco-boulevards, a concept that can be found in many of the studio’s proposals, put water at the center of urban improvement. The idea is based on case-by-base performance-based infrastructural landscapes. These rich boulevards would come in many forms and sizes, but they would all function as more than a space for vehicular movement, providing social, ecological, and energy amenities. The boulevards would traverse the city with integrated water-filtration and water-retention technologies,a space for vehicular movement, providing social, ecological, and energy amenities. The boulevards would traverse the city with integrated water-filtration and water-retention technologies, a space for vehicular movement, providing social, ecological, and energy amenities. The boulevards would traverse the city with integrated water-filtration and water-retention technologies, both passive and active. The stitching of nature to the larger urban environment would connect formerly disparate parts of the city with a common civic space.

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UrbanLab is combining water infrastructure with architecture to reimagine how cities work

With work ranging from houses and storefronts to city-scale master plans, Chicago-based UrbanLab fluidly navigates architecture and urbanism. Regardless of scale, the studio addresses complex social and ecological issues with straightforward yet ambitious proposals—while managing to introduce a hint of levity in every design.

Midwest editor Matthew Messner sat down with UrbanLab to talk about the Yangming Archipelago and how the studio works with water as a design component.

The Architect’s Newspaper: How does UrbanLab approach water as a resource for architecture and urbanism?

UrbanLab: Water, we believe, is the primary infrastructural framework and life-support system of cities. We think water infrastructure has the capability to unlock questions of how to best shape urban form and support healthy lifestyles. Today, the ways in which cities address their water challenges will be critical to their ability to prosper and grow. We see water scarcity as typically the result of shortsighted or poor planning strategies (or lack thereof) that use water only once before relegating it to waste. In this simple, linear model, water is typically castoff after its first use, at which time it becomes successively more polluted. We think this is crazy: Water is rarely so toxic that it can’t be salvaged and recycled again and again. As Buckminster Fuller remarked, “Waste is merely a resource in the wrong place.” So too is “waste” water that is routinely ejected out of cities instead of being kept and put back to work. Alternatively, UrbanLab’s water-based urbanism projects view water as part of a circular economy and ecology, where it keeps its value after each use, and ultimately returns to an original source.

How does this play out in the studio’s projects?

Each of our projects is a “bowl” of varying size and shape in which water circulates in semi-closed loops. Shifting to looping circular models that store water, from linear models that discard water, can replace scarcity with abundance, and help solve challenges of long-term supply and demand. We’re very interested to combine water infrastructures with architecture and landscape to find new urban forms.

How is water-based urbanism deployed in the current Changde project?

Our client, Changde’s planning bureau, aims to realize the plan in the next five to ten years. Currently, the project site is sparsely developed farmland bordered by high-density superblocks. At the center of the site is a highly polluted lake that is prone to flooding. Our primary design concept is a continuation of ideas we’ve been developing: To reimagine water as an amenity (not a problem) for people. The lake is re-planned as a bowl-shaped “central water park” for the entire city.

What are some the ecological aspects of the design?

To help clean the lake, water-filtering infrastructures, or eco-boulevards—an idea we’ve been working on through several projects—pre-treat storm water runoff. Eco-boulevards are connected to additional water-filtering infrastructures such as tree-lined feeder roads, storm-water parks, and in-block rain gardens. Together, the streets and open green spaces are a porous framework of sub-bowls that naturally absorb and clean rainwater before [it enters] the lake. A fine-grained urban grid accommodates a mix of transportation options within and between eight new subdistricts. Compared to contemporary, car-centric urban grids in China that encircle gated superblocks, the geometry of our compact grid allows for a highly efficient bus transit system, reducing energy use and pollution. Bus stops and transfer nodes are planned within a 10-minute pedestrian walk to all new developments. In the lake, a group of new islands is planned. The “Central Business District Island” contains the most prominent new commercial buildings, and a chain of “Cultural Islands” contains new civic venues and gardens. The islands filter lake water and naturally enhance biodiversity and the living environment.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.
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MAD Architects reveal designs for China Philharmonic Hall in Beijing

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.
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Diller Scofidio + Renfro wins competition to design artificial island complex in China

New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) has trumped nine other studios in a competition to masterplan a man-made island in Haikou Bay, China. In doing so, DS+R beat off Foster + Partners, UN Studio, and fellow New York practice Morphosis Architects to design 250-acre plot of land.

The crescent-shaped island is officially known as the South Sea Pearl Artificial Island and is located in China's Hainan province. It will be joined to Hainan—itself a large island off the south Chinese coast—by a bridge. Chinese developer HNA Group, the group funding the project, wants to create an eco-tourism hub complete with a hotel complex, theme park, yacht harbor, and cruise ship port. The total price tag will be $1.25 billion.

"Our studio worked for a couple of months to imagine how to take this amount of land and how to consolidate all the building program in the smallest footprint possible, but also in a very natural land form," said Elizabeth Diller, a partner at DS+R, in an interview with Chinese news service CCTV. "It's a stitching of nature and culture together, so we’re very excited about that," she added. Meanwhile, Ni Qiang, the mayor of Haikou, spoke of the economic implications and what the project will mean to the island in a general sense. "This island will not only help boost local economic growth and create more jobs but also bring some of the world's most advanced concepts in urban development to China,” he said. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and take approximately a decade, wrapping up in 2027. The other offices that competed were: Office of Architecture in Barcelona; Seoul-based Iroje Architects & Planners; Rotterdam-based KuiperCompagnons; Los Angeles-based The Jerde Partnership, Beijing-based CCDI, and internationally-based Boston International Design Group.
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Laguarda.Low Architects wins large planning project in Jining, China

Laguarda.Low Architects, a sixteen-year-old firm with offices in Tokyo, Beijing, and (until recently) Dallas, has consolidated their head office in the Flatiron district in New York City. They have developed an international practice, working on nearly every continent and have just been awarded a massive planning and architecture project—over 3 million square feet—in Jining, China. The plan is a major urban development scheme, one that few countries but China seem to be able to pull off. The firm principals Pablo Laguarda and John Low say that they created a cohesive design for the plan “by adding a grand public plaza (including landscaped plantings, courtyards, and water features) between cultural buildings” designed by Mario Botta and SANAA. All east facing facades are clad in white stone, matching the paving of the plaza. This particular stone was chosen to provide uniformity in materials between the paving, building facade and roof, and create a curtain like backdrop for the cultural buildings. The project will be built in will be built in six phases, beginning with a new hotel, retail center, four office towers and two high-end residential buildings. Construction will start in 2016.
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Ten firms are competing to design an artificial island complex in China

HNA Group has announced a design competition for the master plan and central buildings on a man-made island in Haikou Bay, China. The island, called the South Sea Pearl (and Nanhai Pearl Artificial Island), will be an eco-tourism hub with housing, a cruise ship port, a yacht harbor, hotels, resorts, a theme park, and more. HNA Group is the owner of several other properties in the area and across China, including the supertall skyscraper Haikou Tower due to be completed in 2020. They also own Hainan Airlines, the fourth largest airline in China. The crescent-shaped island is 250 hectares in size and located off the coast of Hainan, China, a larger island in the South China Sea with a population of 9 million. According to ArchDaily, Vincente Guallart was selected to create a strategic vision for the island. Guallart told ArchDaily the goal was to "achieve a new urban development based on ecological principles." The ten firms that will compete to design the island are London-based Foster + Partners, New York-based Morphosis Architects, Office of Architecture in Barcelona, New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Seoul-based Iroje Architects & Planners, Seoul-based UNStudio, Rotterdam-based KuiperCompagnons, Los Angeles-based The Jerde Partnership, Beijing-based CCDI, and internationally-based Boston International Design Group. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and take approximately a decade, wrapping up in 2027.
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MAD Architects reveals plans for Xinhee Design Center in Beijing

Beijing-based MAD Architects have revealed designs for a roughly 657,000 square foot (61,000 square meter) headquarters for Chinese clothing designer and manufacturer Xinhee Group. In their designs for the massive headquarters, the architects utilized the fashion group’s multi-brand corporate structure as a guiding principle, designing a six-lobed complex of buildings joined at a central atrium. Each lobe of the radially-organized plan houses one of the company’s six clothing brands, creating a unified whole from discrete working parts. In a meeting with AN last month, MAD Founding Principal Ma Yansong relayed the inspiration behind the center as a blend between pragmatism and nature, with many of the aspects of the building pulling double-duty socially and environmentally. For example, the central atrium—which connects the various arms and employees of the company—allows the group to host grand fashion shows while simultaneously acting as a massive solar chimney for the building. It pulls cool air from ground-level gardens up through the structure, carrying away heat and exhaust along the way. The structure’s sinuous floor plates seemingly dance around central cores contained within each of the six building sections. These floor plates vary in size and proportion across the complex, with some of the upper floors pulled back from the sloped facade, creating internal double- and triple-height spaces. The resulting array of stacked levels is clad in large sections of PTFE curtain wall panels that introduce dappled light. In the process, the PTFE makes the building appear lighter than it actually is. Yansong elaborated in a press release for the project, stating “It’s interesting for a building with such an intrinsically logical structure to look floating and free.” Though renderings for the project have just been released, the Xinhee Design Center is currently under construction and is expected to be operational sometime in 2017.
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The future is now? Chinese straddling bus that travels OVER cars unveiled

China has unveiled its much anticipated "straddling bus." Spanning two lanes of traffic, the "bus" is essentially a moving tunnel, traveling on tracks on the far side of each lane while leaving six-and-a-half-feet of headroom for automobiles moving underneath. Though appearing to be more of a tram, the vehicle is officially known as the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB). Stretching to 72 feet long and running on electricity, the bus can accommodate 300 passengers and is touted as traveling up to 37 miles-per-hour. Buses can also be connected to each other if necessary. This week, a trial run of the TEB-1 was carried out along a 984-foot-long stretch of controlled track in Qinhuangdao, a city located in the north east of China. In 2010, a computer model of the bus caused a stir online, resurfacing again this May when images of a physical scale model were released of it being showcased at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo. Despite the excitement surrounding the project, many were skeptical of the TEB's success—if it were to ever be realized. After a remarkable three-month turnaround, however, the bus is now a reality. Song Youzhou, the project's chief engineer spoke state-media outlet Xinhua. "The biggest advantage is that the bus will save lots of road space," he said earlier this year. "The TEB has the same functions as the subway, while its cost of construction is less than one fifth of the subway," said fellow engineer Bai Zhiming to the CCTV news agency. According to the firm behind the project, TEB-1 could take the place of 40 normal buses. So far, however, it is not known how much the "straddling bus" will be used across China. Five cities—Qinhuangdao, Shenyang, Nanyang, Tianjin, and Zhoukou—have agreed to deals with TEB Technology Development Company for further testing.
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See Iwan Baan’s stunning winter photography of MAD’s Harbin Opera House in Northeast China

Braving temperatures as low as -22°F, Iwan Baan is no stranger to shooting in the extreme. Armed with his camera, tripod, and Canada Goose Parka, the esteemed Dutch architectural photographer has produced a series on Beijing-based MAD Architects' Harbin Opera House in China's Northernmost province.

His work, unlike most in the industry focuses on people, not buildings. "My pictures are always very much about the users of the place," Baan says in a film covering the shoot. "I'm not trying to create timeless images which could be in any moment in time. They always should very much have a connection to a specific place, time, people, a context, a culture and this kind of thing."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzvG8D-PI5M

"So people are, in that sense, a very important part," he explains. However, despite the alternative choice of focus, his work still conveys the fluid curvature of MAD's Harbin Opera House. Cast against a snow-white sky, the meandering white aluminum panels can be seen elegantly rising from the snow.

In this medium, the building's intentions of emulating the sinuous nature of its marshy surroundings and adjacent frozen riverbank are well and truly achieved. Even among fading light, the opera house's relationship with the site remains intact through Baan's lens from both interior and exterior perspectives.

“Harbin is very cold for the most of the year, so I envisioned a building that would blend into the winter landscape as a white snow dune arising from the wetlands,” says Ma Yansong, principal architect and founder of MAD Architects.

“Opera design normally focuses on internal space, but here we had to treat the building as part of its natural environment—one outside the urban context,” Yansong adds.

Traditionally, opera house photography evokes silent spaces, that, by contrast are designed to be anything but. Here, the acoustic properties of the space embedded within the theatrical grandeur are enhanced. With his uncanny habit of seeing things differently, Baan however, captures crowds on their feet in rapturous applause. Outside he shoots tourists, dog walkers, and local ice fishers setting an enlivened scene.

Purist's needn't worry though, as shots without any intrusive people also feature.

In related news, MAD has released a video showcasing their Invisible Border Installation for the Interni's Open Borders exhibition at the 2016 Milan Design Week. A descending veil, comprised of translucent polymer strips can be seen fluttering in the wind as it is loosely held in an undulating form, suspended from the Loggia of the Cortile d’Onore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwYvelwAlc4
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Michael Sorkin named as American Academy in China’s inaugural Research Fellow

Michael Sorkin has been selected as the American Academy in China’s inaugural research fellow. The urbanist, designer, and critic will begin work this summer. Dubbed the “Made For China” project, Sorkin’s research aims to look inwardly at his own firm’s recent Chinese work in search of an “urbanism with Chinese characteristics.” His research will also analyze the work of other western architects working in China and delve into the firm’s interactions with local regulations and stakeholders so as to digest their effects on these Chinese particularities. Clifford Pearson, Director of the AAC, remarking upon Sokrin’s selection in a press release, said “As a writer and critic, Michael has often challenged established perspectives, offering a penetrating and often witty take on what is really happening in architecture and design. And as an architect, he is fully engaged with the realities of building in China.” When asked about the academy’s selection process for the fellowship, Pearson remarked to The Architect's Newspaper via email, “Because this was the inaugural fellowship, an internal group of advisors—including Dean Ma (and) myself—selected Michael Sorkin. In the future, we will have a call for submissions and make our selection from people applying for the fellowship.” The AAC was established in 2007 by USC School of Architecture dean Qingyun Ma as a base for researchers and students from around the globe to study China’s arts and architecture. Among its chief tasks are conducting research on contemporary Chinese urbanism with a focus on what China’s contribution to global urbanism might be. The USC School of Architecture has operated a six week summer studio out of the institute and aims for the program to eventually have a global draw. In line with this goal, Pearson, himself recently named AAC director, launched the annual research fellowship in order to establish AAC’s role as a year-round, China-focused research institution. Regarding the AAC’s reinvigorated expansion, Dean Ma told AN via email, “AAC has developed a long trajectory through creative cultures between the US and China. This trajectory can only be enhanced and extended by scholars and designers alike. Sorkin meets the expectation perfectly—he has always been able to bring cultural and social discussion into design and reexamine them by the future of human expectations.” AAC’s upcoming programs include a symposium examining the changing nature between China’s cities and countryside and a design competition focused on napping pavilions with full scale versions of these “napavillions” commissioned from Noreen Liu, Gary Paige, Larry Scarpa, and Tiantian Xu.
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3D “zebra crossings” stop drivers in their tracks

Earlier this year, it was reported that Saumya Pandya Thakkar and Shakuntala Pandya, two women from Ahmedabad in East India, had come up with an imaginative solution to stop cars and let pedestrians cross the road without the aid of traffic lights. Their "zebra crossing"— rectangular volumes drawn in perspective—appeared to do the trick. While Thakkar and Pandya may have thought they were pioneering new techniques, this strategy had already been realized in Taizhou and Xingsha in China some eight years prior. Using bright and bold colors, these "3D" roadblocks-cum-crossings span China's roads to deceive drivers. Here, instead of using the road surface as a color like in India, blue or red is added to amplify the three dimensional effect. So far the 3D zebra crossings have been a success. "Pedestrians can now feel safer when crossing the street. It’s a great idea," said cyclist Lee Wu. "It is so magical! It looks more like a roadblock watching from afar, and I could not help to slow down before I found out it is nothing but a zebra crossing,” said a driver. “It works well so far, as more and more passers-by tend to walk on this new zebra marking and more drivers give way to them,” added a traffic policeman from Changsha county. Naturally, there are some are skeptical of the 3D road marking's ability to implement safer conditions for pedestrians. Would not such a feature cause drivers to stop suddenly—and dangerously—in their tracks upon realizing that they're careering into a red, white and yellow cuboid? However, part of the success may not be down to the fact that drivers are being fooled into thinking that there is a real 3D object in their path. This illusion can only be achieved from a certain perspective. As drivers by nature are moving, this optimum perspective exists for only a few seconds, if that. Instead, motorists are more distracted by the presence of something brightly colored and abnormal on the road and slow down to inspect it.  A spokesman for the local traffic police in Taizhou said: "We want the new crosswalk to become a real safety belt for pedestrians and vehicles." In Ahmedabad, authorities have deemed the markings successful, although in China, one manufacturer is already selling a stick-on 3D solution. As featured on asia-manufacturer.com, the B4011X 3D Zebra Crossing is "self-adhesive and reflective" containing "glass beads for good reflection and skid proof effect; rapid and easy installation." The product is made from flexible polymers, pigments and micro glass beads and apparently lasts for up to two years when applied to concrete, asphalt, cement and marble. Such solutions are yet to make it across to Western Europe and the U.S., however, one can already imagine someone painting a depiction of the Beatles striding across a floating zebra crossing if realised.