Posts tagged with "Shenzhen":

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Zaha Hadid Architects reveals a bulbous headquarters for Chinese smartphone company

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has unveiled its competition-winning vision for OPPO’s new headquarters in Shenzhen, China—a bulbous set of interconnected towers straight out of the space age. The Chine smartphone manufacturing giant selected ZHA’s enormous proposal after sifting through a shortlist that included Bjarke Ingels Group, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, and Henning Larsen Architects. Slated for construction in downtown Shenzhen, ZHA’s civic-centric master plan features four glass buildings split into varying heights across a total of 1.9 million square feet. The tallest tower will house 42 floors full of open-plan office space that connects with another tower via a 20-story vertical lobby. Another pair of external towers, smaller in height, will provide circulation for the main structures. Set near the Shenzhen Bay, the globular buildings will provide ample access to daylight and views of the city with their translucent facades for employees and the visitors.  As the fifth largest communication technology company in the world, OPPO experienced rapid global growth since introducing its first smartphone in 2008 and has set out to establish a new space in Shenzhen to house a fraction of its over 40,000 global employees. While the building will be designed to cater largely to its work in tech innovation, OPPO is also aiming to make its new HQ open to the public. To achieve this, ZHA incorporated several levels of public space within the structures, including a Sky Plaza on its 10th floor and a rooftop sky lab with a bar and observation lounge. An outdoor public plaza will also cut through the base of the site, which curves in at the bottom, and gives access to the various shops, galleries, and restaurants located one the first levels of the buildings.  The project is expected to be LEED Gold certified upon completion in 2025 and construction is anticipated to start later this year. The headquarters is just one of the many monumental projects announced for Shenzhen recently, including what will be the tallest tower in China by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill. 
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AN rounds up 2019's must-reads for the holiday season

With the end of the decade on the horizon, AN has once again rounded up the best new releases for holiday reading. This list has something for everyone on your list, whether they want to dive back into Michelangelo's renaissance work, learn the ins-and-outs of socialist architecture, or explore the world's contemporary architectural biennials. While it's too late for holiday shopping, that doesn't mean you can't pick up something for the New Year's break. Note: AN may receive a commission for items purchased through the following affiliate links.  Biennials/Triennials: Conversations on the Geography of Itinerant Display  Léa-Catherine Szacka Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP: $17.99 Recent decades have brought about an onslaught of -ennials (or -iennales), indicating both the growing importance in exhibition design for architects as well as increased capital and spectator entertainment value; architecture for show, but also a “taking the temperature” of the current climate. This little book colleccts conversations between the author and dozens of biennial and triennial curators, as they discuss the showpiece of our contemporary moment in context.  Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design  Edited by Guy Nordenson  MoMA MSRP: $39.57 This collection of 10 seminal essays outlines the contributions of Japanese post-war architect-engineer collaborations that led to some of the country’s most iconic buildings. Japanese domes, bubbles, and sweeping forms fascinated architects and designers worldwide and led to an unprecedented non-linear chapter in architectural history.  The essays, and their generous accompanying images and archival materials, show how the ideas and concepts of these collaborations were passed down seamlessly over several generations, and in some ways, how they still persists as a scientific feat in design imagination today.  Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War By Łukasz Stanek Princeton University Press   MSRP: $60.00 Political regimes have used architecture as a way of transmitting power, legacy, and permanence throughout all of history, and the socialist movements of the mid and late 20th century were no different. Throughout the Cold War years, architects and planners from socialist Eastern Europe worked closely with those in regions such as West Africa and the Middle East, resulting in a substantial reshaping of the great cities of Accra, Lagos and Abu Dhabi, among others.  This text-heavy book brings this story of cross-continent collaboration to life with previously unpublished images and original archival research, revisiting the connective powers, as well as lessons through longevity, of architecture.  A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change By Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, and Andrea Bagnato Columbia Books on Architecture and the City  MSRP:  $25.52 A moving border is not a border at all—movement becomes negotiable, and the ebb and flow of human fabrication and implication are thrown out of balance. This is a phenomenon observed by ZKM researchers, who have dispatched equipment along the mountainous border between Italy and Austria, the ridge that forms the disparate water flows towards either Northern or Southern Europe. Their findings and cartographic visual language remind the reader that borders and the human political mind are in flux and impermanent, but that our actions towards melting glaciers and climate change are not: in fact, they’re reflected as hiccups in the very borders we try so hard to maintain. As glaciers melt, rivers flood, and borders shift, the environment is literally reshaping political boundaries. The Shenzhen Experiment: The Story  of China’s Instant City Juan Du Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 The “instant city” concept of Chinese mega-development is crystallized in the success of Shenzhen, a government-planned city that seemingly sprouted from the ground. Recognized for its role as an international technology center, economic powerhouse, and mega-city population of over 20 million, Shenzhen also a bit of a mystery, as the same model has been applied to dozens of other "insta-city projects," but none have approached Shenzhen’s overnight celebrity. This book explores the blurry history of the city, beginning with its farmers and oyster fishermen. Tracing policymakers, government regulation, and that the concept of explosive overnight growth is desirable the world over, is an important story for architects and planners everywhere facing the excitement as well as perils of rapid urbanization and industrialization.  Michelangelo, God’s Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece By William E. Wallace  Princeton University Press  MSRP: $29.95 The last two decades of Michelangelo’s life were at first expected to be marked by failure and decline—the Renaissance artist even began to carve his own tomb. However, intervention via the Catholic Church landed Michelangelo with the master plan of St. Peter’s Basilica, a commission that would change his legacy, as well as the course of the Renaissance's architectural history. A fresh look at a portion of the artist’s life that often goes overlooked, the narrative aspects bring to light many myths and very human struggles that the venerated figure overcame. City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present By Alex Krieger Harvard University Press MSRP: $35.00 A critically deep dive into the visions of utopia that have shaped American development, City on a Hill outlines the idealisms underlying various urban design movements, starting with the first wave of pilgrims looking for a new start. Krieger honors the grand ideas that have moved America and its cities forward over the centuries but also underwrites with a critical eye the lessons that can be learned as we move forward towards contemporary ideals of sustainability and smart cities today. 
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Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill designs tallest building in China

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill (AS + GG) has revealed renderings for what will be the tallest building in China and the third tallest in the world when complete. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Center in Shenzhen is slated to rise to about 2,300 feet in a new development that AS + GG is also master planning. The Shimao Shenzhen Longgang Master Plan will be a mixed-use district with residential, hospitality, office, and retail space along with public landscapes and entertainment facilities. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Center symmetrical, vaguely biomorphic, glass-covered design is relatively similar to the firm's other work. AS + GG has designed many of the world's tallest buildings, including what will be the tallest building in the world when complete, the over 3,000-foot-tall Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia. Adrian Smith, cofounder of the firm, also worked on the world's current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, while he was still at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Assuming the Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Center is completed before another taller tower can be announced, when the tower is finished Smith will have worked on the three tallest buildings in the world. The building is tall enough to exceed the supertall tower range (which ranges from 984 feet to 1,969 feet), and to make it into the elite megatall crew, of which the Burj Khalifa was the first member in 2010. The current tallest tower in China, Shanghai Tower, designed by Gensler, is just over 2,000 feet tall.
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BIG's Shenzhen International Energy Mansion looks better than the renderings

Long after the golden era of corporate modernist skyscrapers (think Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building, SOM’s Lever House, and so on), many contemporary office skyscrapers are still designed with traditional glass curtain walls that have low insulation and cause overheating from unnecessary direct sunlight. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) conjured an otherworldly alternative for Shenzhen International Energy Mansion: a sawtooth, zigzagging curtain wall comprising glass panels and powder-coated aluminum that blocks direct sunlight, thereby reducing solar gain by up to 30 percent. The 1-million-square-foot structure is composed of two towers and a nine-story connecting block complete with a shared cafeteria, conference rooms, and various retail shops: The uppermost 13 floors of the 42-story north tower houses the Shenzhen Energy Mansion headquarters. As a starting point, BIG considered the subtropical climate in Shenzhen, gauging how they could create comfortable working spaces in hot and humid conditions while at the same time reducing energy consumption. The solution? A passive facade. “Our proposal for Shenzhen Energy Mansion enhances the sustainable performance of the building drastically by only focusing on its envelope, the facade,” said Andreas Klok Pedersen, partner and design director at BIG. Collaborating with Transsolar, the design studio dedicated to addressing climate change, the firm employed various solutions to reduce solar-derived heat and glare without relying on machines or heavy glass coating (which would make views out seem gray and bleak). The building has achieved two out of three stars with the Chinese Green Building Evaluation Label and a LEED Gold rating. BIG and Transsolar developed a multifaceted passive program with a facade folded in an origami-like shape consisting of closed and open subsections. The closed sections provide high insulation values by blocking direct sunlight. “With solid facade panels on the southeast and southwest side for shading, the glazed facade facing northwest and northeast is able to achieve high sustainability requirements with more clarity and less coating,” said Pedersen. All in all, the effect enhances the environmentally sustainable performance of the building and creates an office mise-en-scène bathed in soft light reflected from the direct sunlight diffused between interior panels. Meanwhile, the double glazing applied to the low-e tempered Super Energy-Saving Insulated Glass Units (IGU) by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass on the folded facade provides open views through the clear glass in one direction via a series of simple deformations in the geometry that allows for larger openings. These interjecting pockets of glass create cavernous folds that interrupt the smooth facade in various interior areas, including lobbies, recreational areas, and meeting areas. This seemingly precarious arrangement of views is made possible by the aluminum cladding's comprising full-height extruded panels that form a meandering profile. The setup enables the panel system to interlock smoothly, creating a uniform surface with almost seamless joints. A profile of twists and turns accentuates the reflections of light. In effect, these solid facade panels located on the southeast and southwest sides directly obstruct solar penetration. “The amount of insulation used in the curtain wall is a result of optimization between visibility and sustainability,” said Pedersen. Location: Shenzhen, China Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group Consulting Architect: SADI Shenzhen Architecture and Design Institute Contractor: CSCEC Engineer: ARUP Facade Consultants: Front, Inc. and Aurecon Facade Contractor: Fangda Group Sustainability Consultant: Transsolar Glass Manufacturer, Supplier, Glazing: Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Group Co., Ltd Windows: Aumüller Exterior Cladding Panels: Xingfa Aluminum
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In Shenzhen-Hong Kong biennale, the urban village is the main attraction

In mid-December, during the opening weekend of the 7th Shenzhen/Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB), the three former factory buildings hosting the main exhibitions are bursting at the seams. Outside, in pockets of the Nantou Old Town, which the biennale has effectively colonized for its duration, architectural installations occupy empty lots and ground-floor shopfronts. Visitors inspect installations such as WEGO, by The Why Factory and MVRDV, a 9-meter-high architectural folly transplanted from an Eindhoven square where it debuted during last year’s Dutch Design Week, or Pingheng, Understanding Chinese Reality, a mural by Spanish collective Boa Mistura that adorns the wall of one of the main exhibition venues. The 7th UABB is curated by Meng Yan and Lu Xiaodu, both partners at architecture and urbanism office URBANUS, with offices in Shenzhen and Beijing, and by curator and critic Hou Hanru, based in San Francisco, Rome and Paris, who self-identifies as the “outsider” on the team. The biennale is divided into three main exhibitions: Global South, an exploration of countries in the global south and their “informal” urban strategies; Art Making City, a trove of contemporary art exhibits prominently featuring urban environments; and Urban Village, which puts the urban typology of the same name center stage. But, as Yan says to a packed auditorium, “The real exhibition is the vibrant city life.” Much in sync with the biennale’s theme, “Cities Grow in Difference,” the auditorium where Yan is speaking is filled with an audience that ranges from architectural experts to local inhabitants of Nantou Old Town, the majority of whom are Chinese migrant workers. For the curatorial team, the urban village is a model for the future. Against what Yan calls the “globalized, standardized, capitalized city” that has expanded to the global scale, the urban village is a hybrid, a wetland, a “breeding ground for a new city.” The biennale seeks to learn from it, and to emulate it in its search for possibilities. The location of the biennale is a case in point. One of the oldest parts of Shenzhen, Nantou is an urban village, a specific Chinese typology of low-rise housing in the center or outskirts of the city, serving mostly migrant workers and temporary dwellers. Nantou is lively, crowded, and seems to be a place where everything is possible. This central focus on the urban village generates an exhibition that, according to Yan, seeks to have a “rhythm like an old Chinese novel or opera.” In practice, this rhythm materializes in a disorienting sequence of exhibition spaces, where art installations merge with urban studies and architectural drawings and models. Sometimes, components of the urban village find their way inside the exhibition, in the display of windows or wall segments; in others, performance takes over, mimicking the rhythms of urban public space, with an extensive array of video projections and performances by dance and music groups, who during the opening days performed everything from classical ballet to contemporary dance. This overwhelming ensemble proves challenging to digest, and the visitor is left with no clear takeaway. To a certain extent, this is caused by the abundance of artworks present, which are a refreshing if disorienting addition to a biennial of architecture and urbanism. Some of the artworks are fascinating, such as Cao Fei’s video work Rumba II: Nomad, where several vacuuming robots are released in an urban fringe of Beijing in an absurd invasion and impossible task; others feel out of place, such as Lin Rui’s An Anniversary Present: For the Love of Sailor Moon & Eiffel Tower, which cryptically combines a model of the Eiffel Tower with a skeleton dressed in a Sailor Moon costume and pictures of the artist’s friends. On the other side of the spectrum are installations by young design studios that actively engage with the dynamics of Shenzhen, like the ethereal Notch, by Berlin-based alt ctrl and SOLUTION, built on site exclusively with components sourced from Huaqiangbei electronics market, or the whimsical Urban Village Furniture Exchange Program, by Huang Heshan and Jiang Fan, where Chinese copy tropes meet several vernacular examples of stools and chairs found everywhere in Nantou, and used by street sellers and inhabitants alike. All are named after famous architects and architecture studios. Architectural luminaries are also present, such as Atelier Bow-Wow, with the The Fire Foodies Club installation, and Yona Friedman, who presents two instances of his Street Museum in Nantou and Shekou. Additionally, the UABB features a strong presence by architecture schools, whose installations occupy a whole floor of the main venue, even if they do dissect the urban village typology to exhaustion. Overall, despite its convoluted nature, the biennale is surprising and fascinating, much of it is due to its location and the overwhelming participation of the local inhabitants. Walking through the crowds of local residents and international participants, one is unsure where the exhibition ends and life begins. And yet, the unique ambiance of Nantou itself might be as temporary as the biennial. In a rapidly changing context like Shenzhen, which grew from a fishing village to a megacity in under half a century, the UABB is at the center of large-scale transformation. This is true for Nantou Old Town itself, where the biennale is the first step in a regeneration plan for the whole area–a process in which URBANUS is a consultant and will undoubtedly play a part. Here’s to hoping that the urban village inspires the planned regeneration, so that Nantou can be preserved and continue to be an inspiration and testing ground for the future of the city.
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Fumihiko Maki–designed culture hub opens in Shenzhen

Design Society, a new cultural hub in the bustling megacity of Shenzhen, China, will open on December 2 with the launch of the Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC), designed by Japanese architect and Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki. The hub is a collaboration between London's Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and China Merchants Shekhou, an urban developer that is part of the China Merchants Group, and represents the first partnership between a Chinese corporation and an international museum. Joining Coop Himmelblau's Shenzhen Contemporary Museum of Art and the cultural institutions and galleries in the OCT Loft, a creative arts district in a former industrial area of the city, the SWCAC represents another sign of the city's burgeoning design identity and a bid to bolster China's place in the global arts scene. For the The project is Maki's first project in China, and was commissioned by China Merchants Shekou in 2011. The arts complex, located on the Shekhou harbor, is distinguished by three white stone-and-glass volumes that cantilever out from a central podium building, with a glass opening at the end of each jutting mass that faces in three distinct directions, towards the water, the city, and the nearby park. The building also doubles as a landscape, with a rooftop park accessible to the public via two grand staircases at either end of the site, allowing visitors to take in views of the water and surrounding cityscape. Within the building, a central passageway connects the three main plazas and provides access to all the levels of the building. In total, the SWCAC offers 760,000 square feet of exhibition space over six floors, covering a footprint of 280,000 square feet. Maki envisioned the SWCAC as a "mini city," and so, along with six galleries, which includes a gallery dedicated to the V&A's own collection, the center also includes a theater, multi-purpose hall, restaurants and retail shops. For those curious about Maki or his design, one of the three opening exhibitions at SWCAC will present a retrospective of the architect's 60-year career and a close look at the design process behind creating the building itself, titled Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work: Fumihiko Maki + Maki and Associates.  The December 2 kickoff for Design Society and the SWCAC will include an extensive public program of events and exhibitions. The other opening exhibitions include Values of Design at the V&A Gallery, which will examine the relationship between values and design through over 250 objects from the V&A permanent collection, and Minding the Digital, a speculative digital design exhibit held at the Main Gallery, curated by Design Society and designed by MVRDV.
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Shenzhen's Ping An Finance Center crowned World's 4th Tallest Building

This article was originally published on ArchDaily as "CTBUH Crowns Ping An Finance Center as World's 4th Tallest Building."

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced the completion of the Ping An Finance Center in Shenzhen, China, according to CTBUH tall building criteria. At 599 meters (1,965 feet), it is now officially the second tallest building in China and the fourth tallest in the world, behind only the Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower and Makkah Royal Clock Tower.

Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), the Ping An Finance Center is located in the heart of Shenzhen’s Fuitan District. The building contains over 100 floors of office space located above a large public podium, with a multi-story atrium providing retail, restaurants, and transit options to the city and greater Pearl River delta region. The CTBUH describes the form of the tower as a “taught steel cable, outstretched by the sky and the ground at once. At the top of the tower, the façade tapers to form a pyramid, giving the tower a prismatic aesthetic.” The form is further emphasized by eight composite “megacolumns” along the building envelope that streamline the building for improved structural and wind performance, reducing baseline wind loads by 35 percent.

The facade of the building is one the project most innovative features; its use of 1,700 tons of 316L stainless steel makes the envelope the largest stainless steel facade system in the world. The specific material was chosen for its corrosion-resistance, which will allow the building to maintain its appearance for decades even in the city’s salty coastal atmosphere.

Read more about the project here. News via CTBUH. Written by Patrick Lynch. Want more from ArchDaily? Like their Facebook page here. Archdaily_Collab_1
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Coop Himmelb(l)au completes Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition in Shenzhen

Vienna-based firm Coop Himmelb(l)au has completed the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) as part of the master plan for the Futian Cultural District in Shenzhen, a major city in Guangdong Province, China. The complex merges two independent institutions—The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Planning Exhibition (PE)—within a structurally unified form. (The latter is an exhibition venue.) The combined art and exhibition facility consists of a seven-story building which reaches a maximum height of 131 feet, rests on a 233,447 square-foot site, and offers a total of 861,112 square feet of floor space. The building’s irregularly shaped volumes are clad in natural stone louvers and insulated glass, which create a transparent exterior. Within the complex, the central atrium houses an amorphous reflective structure referred to as ‘the Cloud,’ which houses a café, bookstore, and museum store, while joining the exhibition rooms of both museums with bridges and ramps, according to Perspective. Architects at Coop Himmelb(l)au extended this synergy between the two organizations throughout the complex, with both organizations sharing the lobby, auditorium, conference rooms, and service areas. According to a press release, “the transparent facade and a sophisticated internal lighting concept allow a deep view into the joint entrance and transitional areas between the buildings. From the inside, visitors are granted an unhindered view onto the city suggesting they are somewhere in a gently shaded outdoor area, an impression enhanced by 6 to 17 meter high, completely open and column-free exhibition areas.” Energy-wise, MOCAPE utilizes solar and geothermal energy, with a groundwater cooling system in attempts to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint. The transparent roofing of the museum also filters in natural sunlight into the exhibition rooms, reducing the need for artificial lighting sources.
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bKL proposes megatall tower for Shenzhen

This new proposal by Chicago-based bKL would see a 700 meter (2,297 feet) tower built in Shenzhen, China. Dubbed the H700 Shenzhen Tower, the megatall structure (megatall is greater than 600 meters according to the CTBUH) would likely become the third tallest building in the world if completed. The current tallest, Dubai's Burj Khalifa at 2,717 feet tall, will soon be eclipsed by the Jeddah Tower in Saudia Arabia, which will rise to 3,280 foot. H700 would be the tallest building in China roughly and roughly 350 feet taller than the next tallest building in Shenzhen. The recently topped-out Ping An Finance Centre, at 1,969 feet, is the current tallest building in Shenzhen and China. The tower would continue Shenzhen’s eastern expansion. The large plaza at the base of the tower would add retail, civic, and institutional programs, providing a cultural space for the Central Business District (CBD). Project diagrams show sky gardens at intermediate floors as well as the at the buildings peak. With their Wolf Point West tower in Chicago recently completed, bKL is also working on one of the tallest buildings in Chicago as Architect of Record: the Studio Gang-designed Vista Tower.
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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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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?