Posts tagged with "China":

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Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, will direct USC’s American Academy in China

Clifford Pearson, deputy editor at Architectural Record, is leaving his post to join the University of Southern California's (USC) School of Architecture as Director of the American Academy in China (AAC). The AAC was founded in 2007 by USC School of Architecture Dean Qingyun Ma. The program uses the humanities, art, and architecture to understand contemporary China. In addition to directing the AAC, Pearson will teach a class on architectural journalism at the academy. He will assume his new role in January 2016, though he will continue at Architectural Record as a contributing editor. Why China now? Pearson explains that, because China's building boom is slowing down, this is an ideal time to "catch our breath and examine what's happened over the past 25 years." Currently, the AAC is a six-week summer program open to U.S. and Chinese students. Its programs are geographically far-reaching and immersive: this past summer, students from 12 universities traveled to Shenzhen, Beijing, Xi’an, and Lushan to study how the mass migration from the countryside to the city has influenced the rural-urban dynamics across China. Pearson would like to enhance AAC's profile among university students in these two countries by expanding the academy into a year-round series of seminars, lectures, and events in Los Angeles and cities throughout China. Pearson envisions the AAC as China's answer to the American Academy in Rome. Similar to the AAR, there will be fellows living on site and working on China-focused research projects. Pearson was tapped for the role because of his expertise in the culture and development of China. From 2005 to 2013, he was editor-in-charge of Architectural Record China, and he is currently co-director of the Asia Design Forum, a think tank that fosters debate around the built environment. He intends to use his "journalist's eye" to create programming that contextualizes and critically examines China today.
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Winner of 2015 Curry Stone Design Prize Announced

Hong Kong–based nonprofit research and design firm Rural Urban Framework (RUF) won the Curry Stone Design Prize for its work rebuilding villages across China. Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, both professors at the University of Hong Kong, founded RUF in 2006. Their goal is to harness design to “stabilize, reinvigorate, and rebuild” China’s rural populations. Currently, China is experiencing a mass exodus of population from villages as people move to cities in search of better opportunities. In 1980, approximately 80 percent of all Chinese lived in villages. Today, more than half of the population lives in cities. According to research by Tianjin University, China loses approximately 300 villages every single day. Working closely with the locals, RUF has completed a variety of projects to meet each community’s specific needs, including bridges, schools, hospitals, houses, and even a garbage collection center. To date, RUF has worked in 18 villages to combat the effects urban sprawl and is designing and planning entire villages and prototype housing. “The work of RUF is addressing one of the most urgent current geopolitical issues, how to deal with the imbalances created by large mass migrations,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Prize Director. “Their work is exemplifying how architecture should establish a dialogue with the community and the environment in order to built structures that respond to their changing needs.” The Curry Stone Design Prize, founded in 2008 to celebrate socially-engaged designers and inspire others to use design, selects winners by consulting social impact experts and humanitarian advocates. RUF will receive a cash prize to aid its mission and projects in China. RUF will participate in a panel at the Chicago Architectural Biennial, led by Prize Director Emiliano Gandolfi on Friday October 2, from 2:30-4pm CST, taking place at the Claudia Cassidy Theater inside the Cultural Center. A short film produced by the Curry Stone Foundation about RUF’s work will also be shown during the panel.
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Who needs Paris? Chinese copycat culture strikes again with I.M. Pei’s Louvre

China is no stranger to unashamedly ripping off landmark Western structures—the country has replicas of the Eiffel Tower and several renditions of the White House. However, this time they have copied one of their own architects, I. M. Pei, with a 1:1 duplicate of the Louvre in a Shijiazhuang theme park. The latest addition to the country's collection of replica Parisian architecture lies among overgrown shrubs and unkempt grass in an obscure amusement park in Hebei province. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sits adjacent to an ancient Egyptian Sphynx. China has already created "Little Paris" in Yuhang, Hangzhou, Zhejiang (East China), which features more mock-Parisian style architecture replete with Tower de Eiffel (though not the real one, obviously). Is this latest piece of "mockitecture" a tipping point or a simply one of more to come?
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Despite no first prize winner, competition to rethink urban growth in China produces some big ideas

To address the urgent and emerging issue of urban development in China, Creativersal and the International Union of Architects (UIA) staged the Mount Lu Estate of World Architecture (MOLEWA) competition. The program took a long-range and somewhat utopian view of the matter. "Rather than an unchecked flow to the big cities, the strategy endeavors to evolve existing medium-sized population centers naturally into prosperous, sustainable, clean and rationally distributed 'new cities'," states the competition website. "To be viable, these cities must not only be functionally complete and efficient, but also beautiful and pleasant." Responding to an existing master plan of the site, a riverside city in the foothills of Mount Lu called Ruichang with a population of 430,000, professional and student teams were invited to propose solutions for residential and commercial/cultural sectors. Diverse—but apparently not definitive, as the jury declined to award a first prize—the submissions came from 40 countries. Instead, they recognized two second-place winners and three third-place winners in each of the two categories. Work on the 20-hectare project is expected to commence in 2016. The third-place winners in the residential division:       A second-place winner of the residential category: An Honorable Mention entrant in the residential category: The third-place winners of the commercial/cultural category:     A second-place winner in the commercial/cultural category:
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First this casino in Macau built the world’s first figure-eight Ferris wheel, then it built a time-lapse LEGO model of the spectacle

Calling itself Asia's entertainment capital, the nearing completion casino, Studio City Macau, is a $3.2 billion resort that has enough glittering amenities to claim such a title. But as we know from Las Vegas, no casino sprawling out over the size of a mini city is complete without some sort of amusement park flourish, and Studio City doesn't disappoint, boasting the world's first figure-eight Ferris wheel. Hovering 427 feet above the ground, the so-called Golden Reel is the crown jewel of the $3.2 billion complex. With a gold-tinted structural system that carries round cars on the novel journey, switching them between rings along the way, the spectacle is sure to be as pleasing from the ground as for visitors spinning up above. The Golden Reel was inspired by an idea right out of a disaster action flick. Melco Crown Entertainment CEO Lawrence Ho, who is developing the project, envisioned the dramatic storyline: "not one, but two flaming asteroids crashed through the building facade in tandem to create an almost perfect figure-8 form," according to the company's press release. "The Golden Reel is a ‘world’s first’ technological innovation that reinvents the gondola-ride and Ferris wheel experience for our visitors," Lawrence Ho said in a statement. "As a new iconic landmark in Macau, the Golden Reel is a totally unique entertainment offering to Asia, and indeed the world, and we continue to deliver on our commitment to expanding the non-gaming leisure and entertainment offerings available in Macau, as a continuing strategy in supporting its evolution into a highly-diversified and world-leading leisure and tourism destination." macau-figure8-01 Besides holding title as the first figure-eight wheel, the Golden Reel will also be the highest Ferris wheel in Asia. Seventeen pods, each large enough to accommodate ten people, will traverse the amusement ride. Visitors will spend 15 minutes making the round beginning on the building's 23rd floor. The attraction is situated between what developers are calling "Art Deco meets Gotham City" hotel towers designed by the Goddard Group, designers and master planners of theme parks around the world. But if such a spectacular Ferris wheel isn't enough to satisfy your interest in the bizarre, Studio City has also built a replica of the towers and Golden Reel out of LEGOs, filmed it in time lapse, and put it online for the world to see. Take a look below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5jTgw3TfjI
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Chinese tech exec Liu Dejian builds $100 million home modeled after Star Trek’s USS Enterprise

Architecture purists, turn back now. Star Trek aficionado and wealthy tech exec Liu Dejian purchased the rights from CBS to build a home and office space that’s a deadringer for the sci-fi film franchise’s famous starship, the USS Enterprise. Located in the coastal city of Changle in China’s Fujian province, the 853-foot long building features the circular contours and tubular features of the iconic spaceship, which appeared three times in Star Trek films released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The building’s cleverest design quirk is that when viewed from the ground, it looks like a somewhat typical office mounted on columns with a parking space beneath. However, satellite and Google Maps imagery reveals it to be a starship with a football field and four tennis courts on a roughly circular plot of land surrounded by water. As the only licensed Star Trek building in the world, it has become the headquarters of online game developer NetDragon Websoft, founded in 1999 by Dejian, also a board member of Chinese search engine giant Baidu. Inside, the 43-year-old tech exec has installed a lifesize replica of a T-Rex named Stan after the paleontologist who discovered parts of its skeleton in South Dakota in 1987. True to Star Trek legend, the work spaces are divided by automatic sliding gates, and 30-foot metal slides on the third floor whisk employees down to the ground floor in a flash. Regarding the company’s first attempts to contact CBS to purchase building rights, NetDragon Websoft told the Wall Street Journal: “That was their first time dealing with an issue like this and at first they thought it was a joke. They realized somebody in China actually did want to work out a building modeled on the USS Enterprise only after we sent the legal documents.” Construction commenced in October 2010 and completed late last year, costing a reported 600 million yuan ($97 million). The building has inspired heated debates online among Trekkies as to which ship it is modeled after, but general consensus maintains that it’s the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E.
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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.