Posts tagged with "China":

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China goes the extra mile converting trash to energy

Shenzhen is undertaking a massive public works project that will transform trash from one of China's largest cities into energy—and it's going to be huge. The facility is planned to be a mile in circumference, making it the largest waste-to-energy power plant in the world. Unlike its Danish counterpart by Bjarke Ingels, China's circular waste facility won't be puffing out delicate smoke rings representing CO2. Designed by another Danish firm, SHL Architects, the project is estimated to burn 5,500 tons of litter every day—more than Shenzhen produces daily. While this may seem like a not-so-green solution, the alternatives, according to Fast Companymake it look comparatively greener. The issue for China isn't an environmental one—it's about space. Last December, a landfill in Shenzhen amassed so much litter that it collapsed, killing 12 people in the process. This proposal reduces the amount of space needed to store trash, making more room for housing development. Compared to a standard landfill, the waste-to-energy plant is significantly better for the environment. The former releases large quantities of potent greenhouse gases as rash decays and decomposes. “Burning waste naturally creates pollutants, mainly carbon dioxide—something in the region of one metric ton of CO2 per metric ton of waste," Architect Chris Hardie told Fast Company. “This does not sound great for sure, but when you compare it to putting the waste to landfill, one metric ton of waste will ultimately produce somewhere in the region of 60 cubic meters of methane as it decomposes—and this has more than twice the negative effect on global warming.” The Shenzhen plant isn't unique, either. China has 300 more litter-guzzling incinerators in the pipeline as it tries to prevent disasters like the one in Shenzhen last year and solve the country's waste problem. Like Ingels's plan for a power plant, this one also offers an unexpected feature of human interaction. A pedestrian pathway, hugs the interior perimeter, winding its way around the mile-long circumference. The roof has been designed to include 473,600 square feet of solar panelling. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 18.46.00
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Kengo Kuma reveals shimmering new Wuxi Vanke Art Gallery in China

Using aluminum casts that have been drilled to allow light to filter through, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has created a tranquil space that is the Vanke Art Gallery. Located in the Wuxi province, just West of Shanghai, the gallery's amoeba-like footprint is derived from the shape of the local Taihu Lake stone that was once at the epicenter of Taihu culture in China. Kuma's project also involved the renovation of a former cotton mill that is also part of the gallery complex. The curvaceous aluminum-panelled facade wraps around the main structure, clad with glass, giving it a wide berth. These panels allow light to permeate through myriad gaps and gently illuminate the interior gallery. Because the facade was placed in front of the actual glass elevation, the effects of shadowing are exaggerated. Meanwhile, light is also allowed to reflect off water that bridges the gap between these two facades. In some places, this shallow pool of water's footprint extends beyond that of the aluminum facade. As a result, three distinct footprints interplay, with the water acting as the initial threshold, of a series of three, between the public and private space. The water, as the primary threshold, also establishes a calm and tranquil environment, something Kuma was eager to construct with the area's history of being home to a bustling brick-built cotton mill. This is then reinforced via light filtering through and the choice of materiality. Kuma, while disrupting the function within the immediate vicinity also instills a sense of tradition, drawing on the history of Lake Taihu, where the form of the Taihu stone comes from. Wuxi Vanke Art which occupies a combined 112,375 square feet also offers spaces for commercial functions and offices within the two structures.
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Weird, but not so wonderful, says China as it bans “weird” architecture

Question: What has three Arcs de Triomphe, an Eiffel Tower, an Egyptian Sphynx, a Louvre, London Bridge and ten White Houses all over? The answer: China, of course. If the Chinese government has its way, that will soon change.

https://twitter.com/TheMCRsoviet/status/632080629048459264

The duplicate architectural icons may end there as the country's authorities have said no to anymore "oversized, xenocentric, weird" architecture, The New York Times reports. The State Council and the Communist Party’s Central Committee last week stated that there is to essentially be no more copycat architecture, and instead urged new builds to be “suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye.” The directive also stipulated that "the chaotic propagation of grandiose, West-worshipping, weird architecture" should be ended, while gated communities have also been vetoed.

Guidelines arose after meetings discussed issues regarding the alarming rate of urbanization that China is undergoing. Just two years ago, President Xi Jinping expressed his views on China's architectural scene, again deeming it "weird" saying there was to be "no more weird architecture." He went on to say that the current climate displayed "a lack of cultural confidence and some city officials’ distorted attitudes about political achievements," though only now does action appear to be being taken.

According to a translation by the Wall Street Journal Blog, Yang Baojun, vice director of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPA), commented on the directive, saying that "the document is a wake-up call for those places where [there has been] a one-sided pursuit of architectural form over function, where cultural orientation has been compromised by an excessive desire to show off."

The New York Times meanwhile reports that experts have warned of "stricter design standards for public buildings." It also added that, an online forum for the Communist Party newspaper, People's Dailypredicted that "in the future it is unlikely that Beijing will have other strangely shaped buildings like the ‘Giant Trousers’ " referring to the China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) by OMA.

Feng Guochuan, an architect based in Shenzhen spoke about how the President Xi's words had already begun to have an impact on decision making regarding new projects. He was also worried that Xi was meddling with matters that should only concern urban planners, and not the President. "Generally speaking, local governments now tend to approve more conservative designs," he said.

https://twitter.com/DanLewisNews/status/243113209974890496?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

However, Wang Kai, vice president of CAUPA, said these stricture design guidelines would mainly be applied to public schemes, while private projects would still have freedom. "For private housing or commercial projects, there is still space for innovation."

Mr. Wang also added that "we shouldn’t go overboard in pursuit of appearances," going on to say how functionality should be the main concern in public buildings.

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Goettsch and Lead 8 win competition for massive Shanghai complex

Designs by Chicago-based Goettsch Partners, along with Hong Kong-based Lead 8, have been chosen for a 2,841,672-square-foot, mixed-use complex in Shanghai. The Financial Street Shanghai Railway Station Mixed-Use Development is spread across two parcels of land just north of the Shanghai Rail Station. The project provides pedestrian routes connecting the project to adjacent sites and public transportation hubs with above and below grade paths and bridges. David Buffonge, cofounder and executive director of Lead 8 explained that “Financial Street Shanghai creates a sustainable urban environment that will concentrate walkable, compact densities around a vibrant mixed-use site near Shanghai Railway Station.” On the eastern parcel of the project, a 161,459-square-foot office building is accompanied by 484,375 square feet of loft apartments, and 161,458 square feet of retail space. The western parcel includes 1,410,072 square feet of office space, another 581,251 square feet of retail,236,806 square feet of loft apartment space, and a 53,819-square-foot cultural center. These programs are spread through five main buildings surrounded by shared public spaces and green retail streets. The office buildings also connect with the outdoors with indoor-outdoor work spaces, specifically tailored to appeal to technology and start-up companies. Both Goettsch and Lead 8 worked on the master plan for the project. Goettsch is leading the design on all the office and residential portions of the western parcel and the exterior design of the eastern parcel, while Lead 8 is handling all of the retail portions. Lead 8 is a young office founded in 2014. Their name, a partial acronym, stands for living environments, architecture and design. With offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, they focus on large-scale, mixed-use, and transit-oriented developments.        
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PLP reveals Nexus Tower, a high rise without a central core, in China’s Pearl River Delta

Only six years old, London-based architecture firm PLP formed as a break away from KPF. Despite its age, the firm already has some noteworthy projects under its belt including the award winning The Edge in Amsterdam. Principals David Leventhal and Andrei Martin have recently designed one more, the Nexus Tower in the Pearl River Delta in China. The skyscraper comprises three stacked volumes, all of which are oriented differently upon a central axis acting as an elevator shaft. Martin is quick to say that this is not the core of the building, explaining that each volume has it's own core, situated on its outer edge. Such a feature "challenges the central core [office] typology," explained Martin. The Nexus Tower boasts quadruple-height informal spaces, all clad in glass, so that incumbent offices can advertise (for free) to passers by how much "fun" their employees are having. Exterior elevator shafts on each volume's "core" also aid legibility. This allows the public to witness inter-floor circulation as elevators travel up and down the facade, giving the impression of activity within the building. Set to rise 1,968 feet, the Nexus Tower will be the tallest of the structures within PLP's larger master plan. Other structures include The Platform for Contemporary Arts, a performing arts complex; The LZ Park Tower, a 984-foot office tower; and The Concoursea large scale retail and leisure facility. Height and the lateral loads the tower must sustain were heavily influential in the design of the Nexus Tower. By fanning out the volumes, lateral loads could be divided up, reducing the overall impact. This also gave the building some visual diversity too, with each volume having a different view out over the city, mountains, and suburbs. The subsequent roof areas were adapted as terracing and green spaces. There is currently no construction timetable for the tower.
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Indian proposal for the world’s tallest free-standing clock tower would replicate London’s Big Ben

India appear to be copying China's predilection for, well, copying iconic architecture from around the world. The Indian city of Mysore will see a record-breaking clock tower that has a remarkable resemblance to London’s Big Ben constructed next year. “Clock towers symbolize perfection, discipline, and the way we do our work," Ramadas Kamath, executive vice president at Infosys, the company behind the proposal, told the BBC. Based on Infosys’ plans for its clock tower in Mysore, Kamath, it seems, is paying a big compliment to the neo-gothic work from Augustus Pugin who created the Westminster clock tower. Known by pretty much everyone as “Big Ben” (which is actually the name of the ringing bell, not the clock or tower), Infosys' proposed design appears to take much inspirations from Pugin’s work. At a glance, the two structures look almost identical. Only upon closer inspection do they begin to bare any differences, as can be seen with the intricate detailing on the tower’s shaft. Regardless of the similarities with its Western counterparts, the Mysore clock tower will be unique in one respect: size. Soaring to 443 feet, it will trump “Old Joe” in Birmingham, U.K., by 82 feet. In doing so, it would become the tallest free standing clock tower in the world. Big Ben will pushed down to third in the pecking order, standing at 316 feet, followed by the Campanile Tower at UC Berkeley rising to 307 feet. The tallest clock tower in the world, albeit not free standing, is the King Al Ahli on in Saudi Arabia. Construction is set to take around 20 months, with much of the tower being prefabricated in the adjacent state of Tamil Nadu.
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Chicago’s Willis Tower falls off top ten list of tallest buildings in world

The Willis Tower (formerly known as, and still referred to by locals as, the Sears Tower) has been bumped from the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) top ten tallest buildings in the world list with the completion of the Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China. The significance of the Willis Tower’s fall from the top ten is in the fact that Chicago, as the birthplace of the skyscraper typology, has consistently been included in the list of top ten tallest buildings for at least the last 50 years. At 1,450 feet tall, the Willis Tower held the position of tallest in the world for 24 years from 1974–1998, when it was topped by the 1,483-foot-tall Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitat measures buildings “from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flagpoles or other functional-technical equipment” Perhaps in a twist of irony, the tallest buildings in the world that have pushed Chicago out of the rankings have often been designed in Chicago or by Chicago-based offices. Though designed in its San Francisco office, the Shanghai Tower is the work of Chicago-based Gensler. The current world’s tallest building, Dubai's 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa, was designed by Chicago-based SOM, also the designers of the Willis Tower. SOM is also responsible for the design of One World Trade Center in New York, which bumped the Willis Tower from its position as tallest building in the United States. Chicago-based Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, former design partner and head of the Burj Khalifa project at SOM, is also responsible for the Jeddah Tower which will take the crown of tallest in the world when it is completed in 2020, rising over Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at a height of over 3,300 feet. Though Chicago no longer boasts the tallest skyline, the expertise of its architects is in higher demand than ever. According to the CTBUH, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and many other towers in the United States, will hardly break the top 50 tallest buildings in the world within the next 10 years, yet it can counted on that many of the multitudes of Asian towers soon to be crowding the top will be designed in the city where it all began.
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What’s happening with that giant golden statue of Mao in China?

This month, a 120-foot-tall statue of former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in the village of Zhushigang, Henan province, was completed. The steel-and-concrete statue sat, somewhat incongruously, in the middle of a field. Days later, the statue was torn down. What happened? https://twitter.com/ChinaGravy/status/686651446918561796 Local officials claim that the statue was not approved. The statue was commissioned by local business leaders and villagers, at a total estimated cost of three million yuan ($460,000). Mao ruled China from 1945–1976, and remains a divisive figure. Photos circulating on social media in China show the statue being dismantled. Some commentators found the statue's location offensive, as Henan was the epicenter of the Great Famine that began in the late 1950s and by some estimates claimed 36 million lives. Today, the province is one of the poorest in China, and some questioned if the money spent on the statue could have been spent on poverty alleviation or education. https://twitter.com/KSLcom/status/686594932065185793 For those who would like to view an ostentatious homage to the former leader, there are many more larger-than-life statues of Mao throughout China. In Chengdu's Tianfu Square, visitors can stare at a 98.4-foot-tall statue of Mao that was erected in 1967 on the site of an ancient palace. In Changsha, there is a 105-foot-tall Mount Rushmore-esque bust of young Mao on a cliff overlooking the Orange River. Erected in 2007, the statue depicts Mao circa 1925. Alternatively, there's an opportunity to try out new techniques that allow a statue to materialize in an ephemeral form. In 2015, a Chinese inventor duo debuted hologram projections that replicated the Bamiyan Buddha statue destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. https://twitter.com/alibomaye/status/607259092265148416
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Penda creates a river-like pavilion for the 10th International Garden Expo in Wuhan, China

Where the River Runs, a 1,500 square-meter (4,921 square-foot) pavilion by the Beijing– and Vienna–based firm Penda Architecture and Design, is currently under construction for the 10th International Garden Expo in Wuhan, China. The expo will span over 200 acres and expects more than 12 million visitors. Walking through the river-like pavilion, visitors see the different landscapes a river forms—ranging from cliffs, caves, and canyons, to expansive grasslands. Although the installation is not significant in terms of sustainability, it strives to educate visitors on the pressing issue. Wuhan lies at the intersection of the Yangtze and Han rivers, and has historically brought goods from around the world to China. Penda therefore centered their design upon Wuhan's historical relationship with the rivers. The Penda team said, “But, the rivers didn’t just bring wealth to the city, it also brought a rich flora and fauna to the people.” The canyons' walls are filled with poems and quotes that pertain to rivers. And visitors are given seeds to plant at the canyons' edge. This memorial-like procession is intended to influence visitors to treat rivers with respect. The pavilion will contain underground tanks to collect rainwater for plants during the festival. Where the River Runs won 2nd place in the international competition and is currently under construction on plot 1590 of the 10th International Garden Expo in Wuhan, China. For further information visit Penda's project page here.
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KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten to Design New Shenzhen Art Museum

German studio KSP Jurgen Engel Architekten was selected last month in an international competition to design the new Shenzhen Art Museum and Library complex. The winning scheme was chosen over submissions by world-renowned firms including OMA, Mecanoo and Steven Holl. The winning design consists of an art museum, a library and archive, and a public square known as the “Culture Plaza,” all encased within cubic glass structures. An approximately twenty foot high stone pedestal forms the basis for the museum, library, and plaza. In addition to the podium and the plaza, the museum roof and the uniform facade material of matte glass help accentuate the coherent character of the structure’s designed components. The new museum is marked by different-size spaces; it includes about 160,000 square feet of exhibit space extending over three levels. The library features a four-story reading room with nearly 1,000 desks and a large skylight, and the archive is located in the podium and on the basement levels. Set back terraces have a cascading effect and act as a wayfinding element, while at the same time affording an impressive view of the “Culture Plaza” and the city. According to the architects, the central idea of the design is to create a public place that promotes interaction between people and culture. The art museum represents just one of many high-profile architectural projects that are currently taking place in the city of Shenzhen. Skyscrapers designed by Morphosis Architects, NBBJ and RMJM are in the works. Rem Koolhaas’ OMA has also won a competition to design their second tower in the city, following the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building.
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Enough Buildings: the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture

“City-ness” is at the heart of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, which kicked off last Friday in Shenzhen, China. Titled Re-Living the City and curated by Aaron Betsky, Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner, and Doreen Heng Liu the event brought together architects, designers, urbanists, and makers on the site of the former Dacheng Flour Factory not far from Shekou Port.

Opening night culminated with giant animated graphics projected on the factory’s abandoned concrete silos, a dramatic light show that reflected the organizers and curators ambitious attempt to rethink how China, and especially still-booming Shenzhen, approaches continued urbanization. The industrial port area is primed for redevelopment and the biennial activities and adaptive reuse of the main five-story concrete building and adjacent structures seem poised to remake this part of the city into a hub a cultural activity based on tactical and informal urbanisms.

The curators divided the biennale into subthemes: Collage City 3D, PRD 2.0, Radical Urbanism, Social City, and Maker Maker, which are distributed across the site. The third floor of the former flour factory is dedicated to thematic and national pavilions. (It’s here that I co-curated with Tim Durfee an exhibition on behalf of Art Center’s Media Design Practices Program entitled Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City.)

While each thematic category manifests through distinctly different projects—Collage City for example featured Hood Design’s Symbiotic Village installation of hanging fish bowls, while Radical Urbanism presented a mural-like illustration from Interboro Partners’ Arsenal of Exclusion and Inclusion: The Battle for the Beach—there’s a shared emphasis on bottom-up urbanism, hands-on techniques, and citizen agency.

Or, as Betsky is quoted as saying in the catalog: “enough buildings, enough objects, enough images.”

His statement is certainly a provocation given Shenzhen’s skyline—at night the architectural products of the last 20 years are ablaze with LED light shows, screens, and advertisements. The curators ground their explorations in the here and now, emphasizing how the present offers future lessons for a “re-lived” urbanism. But given the recent Chinese edict “No more weird buildings,” one has to wonder if “enough” is enough to carry the next decades. Will the absence of formal agenda lead to a vacuum filled with banal buildings or instead offer space for these types of urbanisms to authentically emerge on their own?

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On View> Cao Fei’s “Shadow Plays” explores the rapid pace of Chinese development

Cao Fei: Shadow Plays The Mistake Room 1811 E. 20th St., Los Angeles Through November 21, 2015 Cao Fei’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Shadow Plays, features a chaotic conglomerate of contemporary urban forms in Chinese life. Focusing on the obscurities, Fei’s work offers a surreal sideways glance at China’s rapid development. Utopian and dystopian universes exist in her video and “Second Life” artworks, representing the hypothetical extremities to which China is susceptible as a product of growth and potential collapse. Pop-culture references punctuate Shadow Plays, intertwining developmental, cultural, psychological, and economic shifts in her home country. Fei adds an overriding sense of playfulness to the situation. The almost childlike arrangement and oversaturation of components makes the dystopian undertones of her work all the more disturbing, amplifying the fact that, like children, we are all perhaps powerless to the external forces being exhibited on and in China today.