Joel Sanders Architect with LA-based FreelandBuck have been announced as the winners of an international competition to design the Kunshan Phoenix Cultural Mall, located about an hour west of Shanghai. The project will be the largest to date for both firms. The 262,000-square-foot proposal was designed for Phoenix Publishing and Media Group (PPMG), one of the largest media companies in China. The project consists of a 20-story office tower perched upon a five-story podium, organized around four glass-clad “cultural cores." Each core houses theaters, exhibition halls, a fitness club, and an educational center. A retail loop—compromised of stores, restaurants, and cafes—spirals around each core. The site's cores define the perimeter of a central outdoor atrium, dramatically united by an elevated "Book Mart," whose green roof doubles as both a podium for the office tower and cultural park for the general public. The project's intricate, louvered facade is an example of FreelandBuck's focus on computational patterns as a way to generate tectonic shifts in geometry and space. The construction timeframe for the undertaking has yet to be announced.
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Coop Himmelb(l)au recently won a competition to design the Deep Pit Ice and Snow World in the Dawang Mountain Resort area near the city of Changsha. The quarry project, which also featured proposals from Gensler and Asymptote, is the second of its kind in China, following the Songjiang Shimao Hotel outside of Shanghai. It is one of many new schemes for Changsha from international architects such as Zaha Hadid. The 394,000 square foot project is positioned directly on top of a historic cement mining quarry pit and lake, and consists of an Entertainment Ice World, Indoor Ski Slope, Water Park and restaurant and shopping facilities. The design emphasizes the existing quarry pit and the 560 foot spanning sculpted shell of the Snow and Ice World.
The Shell, which spans from cliff to cliff, covers a sunken and hanging garden, creating a new leisure space of islands, water pools, cliffside pathways and ramps that connect the building to its natural surroundings. Other highlights include a cantilevered outdoor swimming pool that also creates a 200-foot-tall waterfall into the quarry pit. A central glass cone provides controlled natural daylight to the Ice World structure and the islands and water surfaces below, and a sculptural 330-foot-tall tower will is to the Ice World via a grand central plaza. The project is slated to start construction sometime in 2014 with an expected completion date in 2016.
While it's been well-documented that China has been "borrowing from" U.S. designs for some time, it appears that relationship is starting to go both ways. Downtown Los Angeles is ready to get a new residential project that bears a striking resemblance to Steven Holl's Linked Hybrid apartment complex in Beijing. Note the porous, gridded facade and the glassy skybridges, to name just a couple of similarities. The mixed-use Medallion 2.0, designed by Kevin Tsai Architecture, would be located off the corner of Third and Main Streets, reported downtown blogger Brigham Yen. It's scheduled to break ground in 2015 and include 400 rental units, a theater, retail, and over half an acre of green space. We'll keep you posted on more Asian imports as they no doubt continue to arrive.
In 2005, the doors to the New South China Mall first opened, promising a new age of Chinese consumerism and signaling the rise of the middle class. Located outside Dongguan, an industrial city located in the rapidly-growing Pearl River Delta with a population comparable to New York’s, the nearly 10 million-square-foot mall was the largest in the world in terms of leasable space. The developer, Chinese instant noodle tycoon Alex Hu, expected 100,000 daily shoppers, but the crash-strapped factory workers who populate the nearby metropolis never bothered to make the 2.5-hour trek to the overgrown shopping center, and so 8 years later 99 percent of the mall’s 2,350 retail outlets are still vacant. In the wake of this failure, a new developer, the Dongguan Minying Real Estate Development Company, has hired California-based architecture firms 5+Design and SWA to design yet another mega-sized mall in the rapidly growing city, this time with a few important adjustments that the team hopes will make their project a success. Developers of the 11 million-square-foot Dongguan International Trade Center (DITC) hope to succeed where the New South China Mall failed by offering an accessible downtown location with integrated public transit, lush landscaping, and a diverse, mixed-use program. Situated at the intersection of several public transit lines in the center of the city, the 1 million-square-foot site will be connected to multiple subway and bus routes, as well as provide pedestrian and bicycle access to offer an enticing alternative to the traditional car-based mall. The development will be composed of five towers gathered around a compact, 6-story retail complex. The towers, while all rendered in reflective glass and metal paneling, each have their own distinct design and program. The tallest of the five, coming in at 1,409 feet, will be the 25th tallest building in the world and contain offices and a club, while the others will house offices, a hotel, creative technology studios, residential spaces, and a bank. At the center of the DITC will be the retail center, containing a wide spectrum of tenants to cater to the city’s economically diverse population, as well as a below-ground market hall, exhibition spaces, an ice rink, amphitheater, rooftop park, health club, and a 15-screen cinema. But, still, many may ask, why build a 11 million-square-foot mall in a city with an empty 10 million square foot mall? According to 5+Design principal Michael Ellis, a lot has changed in the years since the New South China Mall opened, and Dongguan is ready for something new. “There is a new generation in China that likes the conveniences of great shops and dining experiences near where they live,” Ellis told China Daily USA. “You see that in the US too, with young people moving to downtown Los Angeles for the same reason. It’s a worldwide trend, but new development is happening so quickly and at a large-enough scale in China that it allows us to operate freely there.” Construction of the DITC is set to be completed by 2015.
The illustrious 19th century Qing dynasty politician, Zhang Zhidong, is primarily remembered for modernizing the Chinese army and for establishing the steel industry in Wuhan. It seems appropriate then that the new Shang Shidong Industrial Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind, should be built in the city of Wuhan. Even more fitting is that the museum, which will celebrate the city’s iron and steel culture, will be built on the manufacturing site of the Hanyang-made rifle and will preserve the famous Hanyang ironworks and Hanyang arsenal. The architect’s plans for the industrial museum divide the structure into three levels, each highlighting a different aspect of the steel industry: the Modern Industrial section, focusing on ironworks history, the Heavy Industry section, focusing on military machinery and transportation, and the Light Industrial section, dedicated to advances in water, power, textiles and food processing. Other smaller buildings pertaining to the museum will honor prominent figures involved in the history of the Chinese industrial work force. The bold design of the building accurately reflects the force with which Wuhan was able to establish itself as a primary manufacturer of steel and iron in China while simultaneously accentuating the city’s promising future. The museum, located in a suburban site surrounded by greenery, is dominated by a thick arching curve that forcefully reaches for the sky. This domineering structure rests on two geometrically shaped structures and is supported by a complex steel frame. The highest peak of the museum offers occupants views of the city while the museum floors overlook the gardens. The museum is currently under construction and is expected to be completed by the Chinese New Year (January 31st, 2014). [ Via Designboom.]
At its 37th session held from June 16 to 27, 2013 in Phnom Pehnh and Siem Reap-Angkor, Cambodia, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added 19 sites to the World Heritage List. The new additions bring the list to 981 noteworthy destinations. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of exceptional universal significance and satisfy at least one out of ten selection criteria, which are frequently improved by the Committee to reflect the advancement of the World Heritage notion itself. The following cultural sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. · Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, Qatar · Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora, Ukraine · Bergpark Wilhemshöhe, Germany · Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, China · Fujisan, Japan · Golestan Palace, Iran · Hill Forts of Rajasthan, India · Historic Centre of Agadez, Niger · Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong, Korea · Levuka Historical Port Town, Fiji · Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany, Italy · Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, Canada · University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia, Portugal · Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region, Poland & Ukraine · El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, Mexico · Mount Etna, Italy · Namib Sand Sea, Namibia · Tajik National Park, Tajikistan · Xinjiang Tianshan, China
It has just been announced that the Shenzen Biennale will be jointly curated by former NAi head Ole Bouman who will serve as Creative Director and American Jeffrey Johnson and Chinese scholar Li Xiangning, who will act as Academic Directors. The theme of the biennale which opens in December 2013 will be urbanization "outside the mainstream" and will take place in multiple sites around the region. Bouman will be responsible for curating the exhibition, "focusing on forward-looking design practices, and large-scale works" while Li Xiangning and New York-based Jeffrey Johnson will be responsible for a curatorial review and theoretical research. The last Shenzen Biennale (2011) was curated by Terence Riley and was one of the most interesting architecture exhibitions of the year.
Los Angeles-based Synthesis Design & Architecture (SDA) in association with Shenzhen General Institute of Architectural Design and Research have won an invited competition to design the 1.9 million-square-foot, mixed-use Shanghai Wuzhou International Plaza in Shanghai. Their slick “Urban Canyon” concept summons images of a magnificent gorge cutting through the city with its two nested cliff-like structures that have been carved from the landscape by staggered, pebble-looking buildings. The facades’ and roofs’ grooved titanium-zinc cladding adds to the metaphor while mimicking the energy and vibrancy of the city. Divided into two blocks, the northern area houses luxury retail shops and developer Hong Kong Wuzhou International Group’s corporate offices. The southern section is a retail, lifestyle and entertainment complex anchored by two office towers. Sky bridges connect the buildings and outside, plazas, landscaping, seating areas, and dynamic lighting are integrated. Practical details are still being finalized.
In 2010, AN wrote about an identity theft scandal involving some high profile British architects and Chinese impostors leaving some observers at the time to wonder if starchitects like Norman Foster or Zaha Hadid might be next. It now appears the archi-pirates have indeed set their eyes on Hadid's curvaceous designs, setting of a construction race to see whether the copy-cat can outbuild the original and an international debate about intellectual property. Spiegel reported that Hadid's Wangjing SOHO tower complex, proposed in 2011 for Beijing and now under construction, has been copied and rebranded as the Meiquan 22nd Century in Chongqing. When placed side by side (above), it's tough not to see the distinct resemblance. The developer of the Hadid complex told Spiegel that the clone-towers in the south of China are progressing with construction at a faster rate than the SOHO project, and could even be completed before Hadid's original, noting that even if his company prevailed in court, the offending building would likely only face a financial penalty. Satoshi Ohashi, the project architect at Zaha Hadid Architects, went as far as to tell the German publication, "It is possible that the Chongqing pirates got hold of some digital files or renderings of the project." Many are not surprised that in an age of Photoshop and digital drawing, entire architectural projects are being copied, including architects at Hadid's firm. While upset at the direct copy, Zaha herself expressed "excitement" at the idea her projects could spur mutations.
It's no secret that China continues on a trajectory of continued urbanization, placing strain on already-overcrowded cities. To help alleviate this congestion, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has designed a 120 million-square-foot master-planned new city in China’s Hunan Province called Meixi Lake. The new city is centered around a large, 2.4-mile-long lake and will one day be home to some 180,000 residents. As China’s urban population grows (with over 200 cities expected to house 1 million or more people each by 2030) new cities are seen as a way to relieve the strain on already built ones. "Over the last 10 years, China's cities have grown in two ways: by increasing density within the historical cores, and by adding new cities adjacent to the old," KPF Design Principal James von Klemperer said in a statement. "In such a new town, like Meixi, we can introduce integrated urban innovation: we can combine water transport with localized energy production, cluster neighborhood centers, advanced flood prevention and water management, and urban agriculture." But creating an entirely new city from scratch can be a daunting challenge. Architects are making extra efforts to ensure that these new developments are not prescribed and sterile, designing environments with sustainability at their core. In new cities like Meixi Lake, the built environment responds directly to residents' needs with varying housing options and mixed-used buildings. With a clear centering around the central lake—what KPF calls a "central park" for Meixi—the master plan merges the natural and built environment making sure one never outweighs the other. Water is filtered from the 100-acre lake. High-rise buildings of the central business district surrounding the lake are connected with a pedestrian tram, lessening the amount of cars on the street. KPF also plans collective gray and black water systems, energy plants, and urban agriculture to reduce pollution and enhance sustainability. "Environmental sustainability is crucial to a city’s longevity. China is growing beyond its environmental capacity and has limited natural resources and fresh water," KPF Managing Principal Richard Nemeth noted in a statement. "We were able to rethink the typical urban elements that needed improvement and implement them in this completely new city.” Neighborhoods have been imagined as village centers and are clustered at about 10,000 people and are linked by green parks. Every uniquely-designed neighborhood enclave is complete with a school, shopping district, and civic buildings.
Digital design meets traditional Chinese craftsmanship in a pavilion constructed like a paper lanternHong Kong-based architects Kristof Crolla (LEAD) and Adam Fingrut (Zaha Hadid) married traditional Chinese craftsmanship and digital design technology in their temporary pavilion, Golden Moon, which won the Gold Award in the Mid-Autumn Festival Lantern Wonderland last month. The 60-foot-tall structure was built in just 11 days atop a reflection pool in Hong Kong's Victoria Park, proof that "complex geometry can be built at high speed and low cost with the simplest of means," said Crolla and Fingrut, who sought to rethink digital design by "anchoring the paradigm in a strong materiality." To create the "fiery flames," a reference to the Chinese legend of Moon Goddess Chang, Crolla and Fingrut began with a geodesic dome structure made from steel and wrapped it with a bamboo grid made using traditional scaffolding techniques. In this case, however, that "highly intuitive and imprecise craft" was based on an incredibly precise computer generated grid designed to install and bend the bamboo rods into a specialized structure around the steel dome. The dome was then clad with metal wire and a translucent, flexible fabric, two typical paper lantern-making materials, which were then lit up by 10,000 LEDs. The flame pattern and bamboo structure is "based on an algorithm for sphere panelization that produces purity and repetition around the equator and imperfection and approximation at the poles." The dome is wrapped with a diagrid according to a Fibonacci sequence that produces order along the equator and randomness at the poles. Simple drawings of this code were made for the construction team so they could easily mark the intersections between the steel and bamboo structures. Golden Moon is the result of research into what Crolla and Fingrut call "building simplexity," or constructing complex geometries from the simplest means. For example, optimization scripts were used to reduce the amount of fabric "flames" from 470 different units to ten that could stretch and adapt to the curve of the dome. "Preconceptions of building methods and familiar construction techniques had to be abandoned by all parties as both the digital and the material world demanded a new design and building set-up to be devised."
Much has been made of the decline of American industry and, more recently, the rise of small-scale urban industry, but one of the largest international manufacturers, Taiwan-based Foxconn, could change the industrial scene completely if it decides to build factories in the United States. The Guardian reports that Foxconn is considering Detroit and Los Angeles for potential outposts thanks to rising costs overseas, but the company infamous for manufacturing Apple products among others at its 800,000-worker-strong Chinese facilities would have to adapt to radically different American ways of working. It was early last year—after a string of workers committed suicide and a lethal explosion tore through a plant—when Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook asked the Fair Labor Association to assess Foxconn’s working conditions. Reforms where set in place that doubled Foxconn’s worker salary levels in China and cut overtime hours. The increase in costs in places like China has prompted the company to consider locations overseas. In September, plans were announced for a nearly $500 million factory to be built in São Paulo, Brazil where Foxconn will hire up to 10,000 people to make computer and some Apple products. The company also plans to open a new phone factory in Indonesia by the end of 2012. If built, Foxconn's new U.S. factories and work standards would be altered for the American workforces, who won’t likely work for China’s low wages or live in work dormitories. Instead of manufacturing products that rely heavily on hand labor, the American factories would primarily build flat screen televisions, which use a primarily automated process. Company officials would not comment on the possible expansion into the U.S., but did say American engineers will be invited to its Chinese facilities to learn about its manufacturing process.