Posts tagged with "China":

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Pictorial> Twenty-one of the best pavilions from Milan Expo 2015

Milano Expo 2015 is rolling along, with 145 countries and a host of international organizations, civil society organizations, and corporations displaying their food-centric traditions and the latest sustainable agriculture and food production techniques. AN reported on the Expo when it opened:

a handful of designs...stand out as attempts to rethink the way we build and how it relates to modern agriculture and sustainable food production for the next century. Most of the pavilions use sustainable materials and construction methods that utilize national building techniques. Inside, exhibitions—often interactive—showcase biodiversity, culture, and food traditions of each nation.

Beyond the focus on food and agriculture, there is also a wealth of eye-catching architecture at the Milan Expo as well. Here is a collection of some of our favorite pavilions from this year's rendition. And be sure to check out our coverage of the Expo here.
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Kengo Kuma designs a geometric dreamscape for Hérmes’ Chinese brand, Shiang Xia

The acclaimed architectural firm that once decked the walls of a Tokyo Yakitori bar with LAN cables recently completed designs for the latest retail outlet of Shang Xia, a Chinese culture–inspired offshoot of the renowned Hérmes fashion brand. Touted as “a space combining retail, culture and the arts,” the Shanghai-based space is an expanse of natural wood and sandstone housed in an unassuming red-brick French villa. The interior walls sport a plastic-meets-cloth veneer that has been tri-axially folded into honeycomb-like indentations. Heat-treated and shaped in Japan, the material has the shape-memory texture and strength of plastic and the softness of natural cloth. Founded by designer Jiang Qiong Er, the brand is dedicated to the art of living as embodied by Chinese heritage and craftsmanship, retailing fine decorative objects, sculptural furniture, luxurious garments and rare accessories. Guided by a 21st-century Asian aesthetic, the elegant, 1,356-square-foot retail space is fronted by a pixelated all-glass veneer facing the thrumming streets of Xintiandi, near Shanghai’s commercial center. The work of famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the outlet includes exhibition space for arts and culture. The architect also previously designed Shiang Xia’s outlets in Beijing and Paris, the latter resplendent with a lattice of over 10,000 glistening tiles extending into a layered ceiling installation. Meanwhile, the Beijing store contained latticed partitions of extended aluminium, which evoked a brickwork skeleton.
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Biomimicry guides the design of Shanghai’s new nautilus-shaped museum of natural history

This weekend a Shanghai museum got a new home, and its design takes a major cue from nature. The Shanghai Natural History Museum wraps 479,180 square feet of exhibition space with facades inspired by the elements, natural phenomena, and the biological structure of cells. Perkins + Will designed the structure, which expresses architectural themes found in nature. A green roof rises from the site plan, spiraling logarithmically like the shell of a nautilus. A 100-foot-tall atrium rises within that organizing geometry, transmitting natural light through a craggy lattice that mimics the shape and organization of living cells. Nature inspired the design of the building's other facades, too. Its eastern face is a living wall, complementing a north-facing facade of stone that the architects said suggests shifting tectonic plates and canyon walls eroded by rivers. The interaction of natural elements is also meant to invoke traditional Chinese landscape architecture. “The use of cultural references found in traditional Chinese gardens was key to the design,” Ralph Johnson, principal at Perkins + Will, said in a press release. “Through its integration with the site, the building represents the harmony of human and nature and is an abstraction of the basic elements of Chinese art and design.”

Though it sits within Shanghai's Jing An Sculpture Park, the building is designed to be more than inhabited art. It recycles rainwater through its green roof and minimizes solar gain using an intelligent building skin, while its oval courtyard pond helps cool the building. Geothermal energy regulates the building's temperature.

The museum's collection comprises some 290,000 samples, including a complete, 140-million-year-old skeleton of the dinosaur Mamenchisaurus, and species which cannot be found outside China, such as Yellow River mammoth, giant salamander, giant panda, and Yangtze Alligator. Situated in Shanghai's Cotton Exchange Building since 1956, the natural history museum leaves its historic home for a building with 20 times the exhibition space and a design that looks forward, as well as back through the eons.
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Jeanne Gang, Wanda Group unveil new renderings for supertall Wanda Vista tower in Chicago

Studio Gang's Wanda Tower may climb even higher than originally planned. New renderings revealed Monday night show the tower topping out at 93 stories instead of the previous 88. At 1,144 feet, the tower, whose development is being bankrolled by Beijing-based Wanda Group, would be the third-tallest tower in Chicago (provided it fits the standards of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, who arbitrate such matters.) Formally dubbed Wanda Vista, the $950 million tower will seek LEED Silver certification and is anticipated to open in 2019. The new renderings reveal a continuum of blue-green glass along the building's vertical profile. Gang said Monday the design is meant to mimic the reflection of light off Lake Michigan. The new design retains the massing of three tall, thin towers stepping toward the East, but gone are the balconies along the north and south facades. With more than 1.8 million square feet of real estate, the development will include 405 luxury condominiums and 169 hotel rooms. The Chinese real estate giants announced their plans last year without listing an architect; the design team was soon revealed to be local firms Studio Gang Architects and bKL Architecture. Chicago-based Lakeshore East, which has worked with bKL and Gang to develop the Lakeshore East neighborhood, owns a 10 percent stake in the project.
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This year’s architecturally inspired films at the 2015 Slamdance and Sundance film festivals

This year’s Park City offerings at the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals ranged from portraits of architects, a mayor with architectural dreams, a victim of the foreclosure crisis, those trapped in physical and dreamed spaces, and individuals exploring the cultural landscape. Always a harbinger of what is coming up, look out for these films and media projects coming to a screen near you. https://vimeo.com/117273601 Concrete Love. Gottfried Böhm, the only German architect ever to be lauded with a Pritzker Prize (1986) is part of a long line of architects, from his grandfather, father, wife, and three of his four sons. The film’s title refers not only to the Brutalist architecture he favored, but also the love between husband and wife, father and children. Concrete is a shape shifter, a malleable liquid that takes the form of its mold—an apt metaphor. The filmmaking is a sensitive, knowing guide that is as reflective of the creative process as the architectural work itself. A model film which won this year’s Goethe Documentary Film Prize where the jury noted “the film tells a multi-layered tale of love, the passion for architecture and four generations of German history. With sensitive observations, intimate interviews and stirring filmic explorations of an extraordinary architectural legacy, the film creates a lasting impression of the buildings and the people.” Chinese Mayor. This is a rare look at the inner workings of a Chinese city that is remaking itself under an ambitious mayor, Geng Tanbo, who permitted a film crew to follow him around for three years. His goal is to transform China’s coal capital, Datong, population 3.4 million, into a city of culture by rebuilding the structures of its heyday 1,600 years ago including city walls with museums inside, and grottos with Buddhist sculpture and murals—all without residents. He states that Datong can be a new Paris or Rome. This necessitates tearing down much of the existing city and relocating 30 percent of the population or a half million residents, giving the mayor the nickname “Demolition Geng” or “Geng Smash-Smash.” There is not an architect or planner in sight. One of the more interesting meetings takes place with a large group of other Chinese mayors and party secretaries who are all rebuilding their cities into cultural meccas (it is worth noting that mayors are appointed, not elected). Geng deals with corruption (a shady developer made off with $12 million), incompetence (sewer pipes too narrow), shoddy work (paving without cement), delays (hospitals and roads are way behind schedule) until he is suddenly removed from office and transferred to another city, leaving 125 construction projects in Datong halted indefinitely. 99 Homes. Against the backdrop of the 2008 housing foreclosure crisis, a hard-working and honest man (Michael Shannon), cannot save his family home. A real estate shark throws him a lifeline—an offer to join his crew and put others through the same harrowing ordeal of throwing families onto the street that he experienced in order to earn back his home. A portrait of a man whose integrity has become ensnared in this recent American meltdown. The Wolfpack. Locked away from society in public housing on the Lower East Side, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch, which they re-enact with homemade props and costumes. Everything changes when one of the brothers escapes, and the power dynamics in the house are transformed. A claustrophobic environment explodes. Forbidden Room. Guy Maddin’s familiar art-house filmmaking takes the locales of “forbidden” spaces—bathrooms, submarines, volcano, caves, elevators and gets lost in non-linear, episodic, absurdist storylines. An ode to the silent movie era, the visuals, sound and story are layered, while color schemes morph into one another. The Nightmare. Following his exploration of the hotel that inspired Kubrick’s The Shining, director Rodney Ascher now investigates the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, the trap between the sleeping and waking worlds. Eerie dramatizations of what the subjects see are created in an architectural moodscape. New Frontier exhibition, Dérive. In this installation, in the distance, you see a city glistening in the dark. The closer you get to it, the larger the city grows until it engulfs you in its presence. This interactive projection is driven by the viewer’s body motions to explore 3-D reconstructions of urban and natural spaces that are being transformed according to live environmental data, including meteorological and astronomical phenomena. Station to Station. Visual artist Doug Aitken embarked on a nomadic experiment of art creation, exhibition and participation in summer 2013 (see AN coverage of its launch from Williamsburg). Station to Station chronicles a train that crossed North America over 24 days making 10 stops, with a rotating roster of artists, musicians, and curators, who collaborated in the creation of recordings, artworks, films, yurts and happenings, across the country. Comprised of 61 individual one-minute films that form a high-speed trip through today’s culture. Films/Media Directors: 99 Homes, Ramin Bahrani Chinese Mayor,Hao Zhou Concrete Love, Maurizius Staerkle Drux Dérive, François Quévillon Forbidden Room, Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson The Nightmare, Rodney Ascher Station to Station, Doug Aitken The Wolfpack, Crystal Moselle
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Bar-Hopping in Secret: Shanghai’s Latest Speakeasy Disguised as Sandwich Shop

These days, the illicit thrill of sneaking into a hidden bar from the back of a video store is a mere blip on our adrenaline threshold. But a new speakeasy in Shanghai aims to reinvent the game with a sleek underground bar concealed behind the innocent facade of a sandwich shop. The diner setup is intact, but the glossy countertops in bright shades, neon lighting strips and polished minimalist furniture against unfinished walls emit a suspicious whiff of not-diner. Slot some coins into the vintage-looking Coca Cola vending machine in the corner and it suddenly swings outward, revealing a cooly-lit tunnel and the not-too-distant din of sophisticated chatter. A contrastingly different setting reveals itself: a chic, dimly-lit bar clad in dark tones of black and brown. By the entrance, floor-to-ceiling shelving holds bell jar-shaped whiskey bottles, a spotlight beneath each one illuminating the amber liquid within. A canopy of copper-inlaid lighting overhead echoes this warm glow, while white LED lights on a slanted plane behind the bar visibly project the liquor bottles outward. The owners of 'Flask and The Press' commissioned designer Alberto Caiola to create a mysterious, dynamic setting without feeling too try-hard. “Considering that Shanghai has already seen its fair share of hidden speakeasy-themed bars and lounges, we decided to build suspense and break it in an entirely unexpected fashion,” Caiola told Designboom. Suspended from a wall adjacent to the entrance is an installation of flasks covered by a veil so that only their outlines are visible. Rather than partitioning the seating areas, Caiola juxtaposed chesterfield sofas, bar stools and winged armchairs of different heights to visibly section the space. The wooden floorboards underfoot alternate from dark to light to dark again in keeping with this variation, while cascading cubes suspended from above relieve the low-ceilinged space of stuffiness. A wunderkind at visibly expanding a confined space, Caiola plays tastefully with convex mirrors and slanted planes to lengthen and focalize.
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Zaha Hadid unveils plans to build the largest airport terminal on the planet—in China

Fresh off settling a legal dispute with New York Review of Books critic Martin Filler, Zaha Hadid has unveiled plans for her latest project. And even for the Queen of Swoop, this one is big. Very Big. Record-breaking big. Working with ADP Ingeniérie, a French firm that specializes in airport design, Hadid has drawn up plans for the largest airport passenger terminal on earth. The superlative terminal will, of course, be in China. Specifically, at the new Daxing Airport near Beijing. Conceptual designs for the roughly 7.5-million-square-foot space have all the trademark design flourishes of Hadid's work—an undulating roof, swooping columns, and a grand, polished interior. Gizmag noted that from above the terminal appears as a "massive mutant starfish." Not wrong. "Initially accommodating 45 million passengers per year, the new terminal will be adaptable and sustainable, operating in many different configurations dependent on varying aircraft and passenger traffic throughout each day," said Zaha Hadid Architects in a statement. The firm added that the terminal will serve as a multi-modal transit hub with connections to local and national rail lines. "Under the leadership of the Beijing New Airport Headquarters (BNAH) and the Local Design Institute, the joint design team consists of ADPI and ZHA, along with competition consortium group members Buro Happold, Mott MacDonald and EC Harris," reported ArchDaily. The project is slated to be completed as soon as 2017.
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Will China Become a Design Dictatorship?

The days of China as a staging ground for progressive, even experimental, architecture may be numbered. High-profile projects by Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, et al, while the delight of design aficionados around the world, haven't impressed Chinese President Xi Jinping—at least in a positive way. At a symposium on the arts held in Beijing at the end of last year, he made statements to the effect that "weird" buildings—an adjective that has not yet been codified—would not be welcome in the future. Government intrusion into architectural aesthetics is not, of course, without ugly precedent. Joseph Stalin—who was called "the father and friend of all Soviet architects" at the All-Union Congress in 1946—essentially conscripted architects to work for the state, forcing them to close their practices to deliver structures like the Seven Sisters, fortress-like buildings topped with Gothic-ish towers. (Un-fun fact: The project manager for these buildings was a KGB honcho, and the construction crews were composed of POWs and political prisoners.) Mies van der Rohe, in an act of cunning integrity, convinced the Third Reich of the importance of keeping the Bauhaus open, only to close the school himself in a statement of artistic principle. We wonder who among the contemporary architectural community might take such a stand—should the need arise—with regard to China.
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Wanda’s plans for a new Studio Gang–designed Chicago supertall tower come into focus

City officials laid to rest Wednesday some, but not all, of the supertall rumors swirling around Chicago since July. Beijing-based real estate giant Wanda Commercial Properties is indeed planning what would be the city's third tallest building for 375 East Wacker Drive in the Lakeshore East neighborhood. Since news of the ambitious project first broke this summer, the design has visibly shifted. The project, dubbed Wanda Vista, is now 88 stories instead of 89. Its facade has traded sky blues for shiny silver. The highest of its three volumes is now the westernmost, stepping down towards Lake Michigan instead of up, as originally rendered. The form is still a cluster of three high-rises, made of stacked frustums—cut-off pyramid shapes—that interlock and terminate in green roofs. The middle tower would still straddle North Field Boulevard. Any real detail, however, remains obscured, as the projects' designers, Studio Gang Architects and bKL Architecture, are staying mum. Though the project awaits approval from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and City Council, its developers hope to break ground in 2016. Plans for the mixed-use building include a five-star hotel, apartments, and retail, potentially to open by 2018. The 88-story project is estimated to cost $900 million, a sum not unreasonable for Wang Jianlin, Wanda's chief executive and the richest man in mainland China. Chicago-based Magellan Development, which has worked with bKL and Gang to develop the Lakeshore East neighborhood, owns a 10 percent stake in the project.
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OMA heading back to China with an exhibition center in Shanghai

Having designed what is arguably Beijing's most recognizable building, CCTV, OMA is ready to make a similar, if slightly smaller, mark in Shanghai. They've just won a commission to design the Lujiazui Exhibiton Centre, located on the northern edge of Shanghai Pudong, a famed tower-filled area along the Huangpu River. The project, sponsored by the Lujiazui Central Financial District Development Corporation, takes its cues from its formerly industrial location along the former Shanghai Shipyard, and actually sits on a former ship cradle. It will be wrapped in a metallic mesh, exposing its steel structure and recalling the under-construction boat hulls once common on the site. The firm plans to transform the nautical ramp into a large-scale theatrical space for events, carving out a covered plaza under the elevated, cantilevered building. Completion is set for the end of next year, a lighting fast schedule for anywhere but China.
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Eavesdrop> Dictating Taste in a Dictatorship

Contemporary monarchs and world leaders have a mixed record when it comes to dictating architectural taste (see Prince Charles: wrong on classicism, right on sustainable agriculture). Even so, it seems significant that Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an end to “weird architecture,” the kinds of formally adventurous projects China has been building at a breakneck speed for the last few decades. It’s unclear at this point if he was expressing a personal preference or if this edict will have teeth. One Bird’s Nest too many?
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Kean University announces Michael Graves School of Architecture

This Saturday, Kean University, in Union, New Jersey, will launch the Michael Graves School of Architecture in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Michael Graves Architecture & Design. Over his career, Graves has racked up an impressive list of architectural accolades including the AIA Gold Medal, the National Medal of the Arts, and the Driehaus Prize for Architecture. The new school will be housed in the university's dramatic Green Lane Academic Building, designed by the Gruskin Group. Graves is designing a new facility for his school at the university's campus in Wenzhou, China. 'I think [it's] an A-plus," said Graves referring to his Wenzhou campus, in a video released by the university. "It's one of my better buildings, if not my best building. We're really pleased with it."