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.
Posts tagged with "China":
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.
Move over Burj Khalifa, a group in China has its eye set on building the next world's tallest skyscraper, and they plan to do it in just 90 days. Called Sky City Changsha, the tower envisioned for central China's Hunan province could rise nearly 2,750 feet over 220 floors. That's 32 feet higher than the current world's tallest in Dubai. Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), an air conditioning manufacturer behind the proposal, will prefabricate building components to achieve the impossibly short deadline. BSB has already proven their speed. In 2010, the company built the 15-story Ark Hotel, also in Changsha, in a mere six days, followed by a 30-story tower built in only 15 days (see video below), both using prefab construction. In contrast, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, built with traditional construction techniques, took six years to build. The secret is in their pre-planning. An extensive amount of construction materials—93 percent in the Ark Hotel—are prefabricated, which leaves the final act of putting them together all the easier to speed through. BSB estimates that using factory-built prefab components produces less than one percent of the usual waste associated with traditional building methods while consuming less steel and concrete. The company also claims its prefab structures are earthquake resistant up to a magnitude of a 9.0 earthquake. If completed, Sky City would be a city unto itself. Included in the building's one million square feet is living space for 17,400 people, a 1,000 person hotel, retail, schools, office space and a hospital. Pending approval from the Chinese government, Sky City could be completed as soon as January of 2013. [Via WSJ and geek.com.]
Bjarke Ingels, architect of mountains, now has set his eyes on Everest. The New York and Copenhagen-based architect's firm BIG has been tapped by the Rockefellers to design one of the world's tallest buildings at 1,929 feet for a new commercial development in Tianjin, China, a city of nearly 13 million people. Ingels revealed a cryptic, fog-shrouded rendering of the tower on his web site—indicative of the scarcity of detail yet released on the tower—but this being the information age, AN found more information and views of the tower on a clear day. BIG is working with HKS Architecture and Arup to design the $2.35 billion Rose Rock International Finance Center set within an SOM-designed master plan for the Tianjin Binhai New Area Central Business District. The new commercial neighborhood to the southeast of Tianjin replaces a formerly industrial peninsula with a mix of high-rises, historic sites, and parks anchored by a high-speed rail station and helps to connect it to the coast. Rose Rock Group, founded by Steven C. Rockefeller Jr., Steven C. Rockefeller III, and Collin C. Eckles, held a ceremonial groundbreaking on December 16, 2011 and is promoting the new tower as a key to transforming Tianjin into "the financial center of Northern China." Renderings show a terraced pyramidal tower with a palpable vertical thrust and clear reference to the Art-Deco stylings of its inspiration, the Rockefeller Center in New York. Just as the Rockefellers built ambitiously skyward in New York 80 years ago, Ingels said in a statement, "The Rose Rock International Finance Center will be to the contemporary Chinese city what the Rockefeller Center was to the American city of the 1930s: an architectural landscape of urban plazas and roof gardens designed to stimulate and cultivate the life between the buildings." Only this time, over a thousand feet higher.
A "supertall" building is one which tops out at over 1,250 feet. Right now, there are 18 completed supertall buildings and 21 under construction. Chicago-based architects Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) will break ground on Tuesday on the 1,740-foot-tall CTF Tower in Tianjin, China. It will be the tenth supertall building to begin construction for SOM, the most of any firm in the world. The building is a carefully-crafted design which deliberately merges structural challenges with program and form. The mixed-use tower in the Tianjin Economic Development Area, an area planned for new growth, has retail at the base, topped with offices, 300 residential units, and a 350-room, 5-star hotel. "The functional aspects of program were integrated with the structure," said SOM design partner Brian Lee. "And the form was also developed alongside the structural scheme." Larger floor plates are needed for the office spaces, which are placed near the base of the building. Residential units with smaller floor plate are at the top. The gentle curves of the building and the large, sloped, concrete elements form a "mega-column," which acts as an external frame. Environmental conditions also affected the final design. Wind slots, a porous crown at the top of the tower, and a gradiated opacity toward the higher floors all help to decrease wind loads, and the corners are rounded to prevent a vortex effect on the back side of the building.
Chinese architect Wang Shu has been named the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate, marking the first time a Chinese architect has been honored prize which brings a bronze medal and $100,000 purse. Wang Shu is known for building with traditional Chinese forms and materials, often recycling bricks and tiles to form a patchwork mosaic in his buildings, which demonstrate a distinct modern sensibility. He is professor and head of architecture at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China and founded Amateur Architecture Studio with Lu Wenyu in 1998 where he has taken an outspoken stance against architecture that he perceives as destroying vast urban and rural landscapes across China. Amateur Architecture Studio derives its name from the traditional building practices of the amateur Chinese builders who have crafted cities for centuries. He spent years learning from these craftsman and brought back the traditional building techniques to mix with his experimental and site-specific practice at Amateur Architecture Studio. “The fact that an architect from China has been selected by the jury, represents a significant step in acknowledging the role that China will play in the development of architectural ideals," said Thomas J. Pritzker, chairma n of the Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the prize. "In addition, over the coming decades China’s success at urbanization will be important to China and to the world. This urbanization, like urbanization around the world, needs to be in harmony with local needs and culture. China’s unprecedented opportunities for urban planning and design will want to be in harmony with both its long and unique traditions of the past and with its future needs for sustainable development.” Wang Shu has previously been awarded the Gold Prize from the French Architectural Academy in 2011, the Schelling Architecture Prize in 2010, and the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction in 2005. He also received a Special Honor at the 2010 Venice Biennale and was the Kenzo Tange professor at the Harvard GSD, which has previously been held by Alvaro Siza, Peter Zumthor, and Raphael Moneo among others. He delivered the Tange lecture at Harvard last November titled "Geometry and Narrative in Natural Form," which you can watch below. The formal awards ceremony for the Pritzker Prize will take place in Beijing on May 25.
SOM Chicago has won a competition to design a mixed-use tower in the new Chinese city of Suzhou. Located along a lake front, the tower includes a distinctive void carved out the upper portion of the tower, splitting the floorplates in half to better serve hotel uses. Offices will fill the lower, larger floorplates. "We've been doing these kinds of mixed-use towers since Hancock," said Ross Wimer, a partner at SOM Chicago. "Instead of tapering the tower, we've carved away a slot to bring fresh air and light into the building." On the upper floors the building uses the cooler outside air for natural ventilation, reducing the building's overall energy load. SOM's sustainability group estimates the building will use 60% less energy than is typically used in a similar tower in the US. "It's about figuring out ways for tall buildings to stop fighting the environment," Wimer said. The silvery curtainwall includes both glass and stainless steel, with the south-facing wall using more opaque metal and the other sides more transparent glass. The project also includes an L-shaped commercial building and a large public plaza. "In China, developers often build out the entire site, but we felt it was important to include a public space," Wimer said. The 75 story, approximately 2.9 million square foot tower is expected to be complete in 2017.
Chaohu city in China has been canceled. It wasn’t a small city. In fact the population of more than 4 million is comparable to Los Angeles, the Phoenix metro area, and the whole of South Carolina, but that is now irrelevant data, since Chaohu's official city status was annihilated on August 22. Although buildings and inhabitants remain as proof of a once-coherent city plan and living organism, the land has since been divided into three parts and absorbed by its neighbors, Hefei, Wuhu and Ma'anshan. Situated in eastern China’s Anhui province, about 200 miles west of Shanghai, the idea was to strip the dead wood and make the surrounding cities more competitive, which, unlike the former Chaohu, are rapidly industrializing and urbanizing. In a recent interview for NPR, economics professor Jiang Sanliang from Anhui University explained: "Chaohu's development hasn't been good, but Hefei … needs land, so absorbing Chaohu will benefit Hefei. The government hopes that redistributing the land will improve the entire province's GDP," he says. It turns out, according to this report, Hefei’s average growth of 17 percent was enough of a reason to dissolve an entire city. Though it is an unusual scenario, there are some benefits to the new divisions. For years the city’s namesake, Lake Chaohu, has been undergoing an intensive clean-up effort to meet the countrywide agenda to cleanse its badly polluted lakes. In the new arrangement the lake falls under Hefei’s administration and has more chance of getting the funding it needs to meet the Government’s 2030 deadline. However, there is no doubt that the move is at odds with other city-planning approaches in China; in August we reported on a new kind of utopia in Chengdu. Designed by a New York architect and local developer, it was one that aimed to foster connections and strengthen communities rather than amalgamate and alienate them. Indeed, instead of public consultation and even public announcement many inhabitants of the former Chaohu learnt about its abolishment from local news on the morning it happened; the striking off happened overnight. No ceremony. No funeral. No Chaohu.