Images by Zhang Xiao, young architect and photographer from China.
(Title of post: quote by Emmanuel LÃ©vinas)
Everyoneâ€™s got a preconceived idea about what a country is like before actually going there. It is an imaginative structure conditioned by anything we have seen and or heard about the place we are about to visit for the first time. Such impressions acquire a different character when they come face to face with reality; sometimes they differ greatly from our preconceived notions and sometimes not.
Before heading to China I indulged in some spontaneous brainstorming and I came up with a number of concepts which juxtapose opposing ideologies, concepts and social constructs such as tradition/modernity, communism/capitalism, East/West, authentic/fake, poverty/wealth, repression/freedom, and so on. Surprisingly, I came across all of the concepts that I had imagined before getting to China, although the actual ones had the genuine taste of reality. What might strike westerners at first sight in Chinese cities are the ideas of development and expansion according to Chinese parameters. The basis for its rapid development is the enormous pool of labour that, when well organized, can reach such a speed that it seems sometimes impossible to sustain. There are many contrasts within the futuristic urban landscape of Shanghai. My first impressions found incongruity by looking up to the sky and down to the earth. By looking up I would see impersonality, a skyline overloaded with concrete and glass and an exaggerated downtown that I associated more with the American urban model. However when I would look down at street level, at the ins and outs of those towers, I would see, smell and feel the stereotypical China I was expecting to encounter.
Within this context of contrasts of Chinese identity and global trends I discovered an urban project called â€œOne City, nine townsâ€. The goal of this project, launched in 2004, is to create nine suburbs around Shanghai imitating the architectural style of different countries of the world. The idea is to relieve the city’s problem of overpopulation by building these western-themed new towns with an estimated capacity of one million people by 2020 all together. Most of them are still under construction, but so far people can already live in a Shanghai suburb that looks like England, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Italy or Germany.
However the trend nowadays goes further than just spending a day off in an amusement park. It is about making a life in an artificial town. Wandering around â€œParisâ€ recently I met three eleven or twelve-year-olds skating in their neighbourhood. I asked them if they knew what Paris was. They said, “Paris? I don’t know.”
More of his photographs here
Chinese artist Li Wei. His work is a mixture of performance art and photography. He is an artist and also a stunt man: he doesnÂ´t use photoshop to create his illusions of reality; he uses props such as metal wires, scaffolding, acrobatics and mirrors.
His performances look to convey his continual sense of lost gravity. He is fascinated by the unstable sides of art. By the sense of danger. He thinks of his artistic work as a continual balancing act between a striving for freedom and a concern for preserving the little emotional security still available. So he suspends himself above the Beijing skyline to illustrate this, and to feel, to feel again; to experiment.
–Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being–
“A series of my paintings is based on dreams that I had as a child of many many jellyfish floating in the sky, some of which fell to the ground on parachutes and became mushrooms.Â These dreams had a strong impact on me, andÂ I remember them vividly. Somehow I feel that it is easier to focus on dreams than reality.”
Yes. China. Or the new Chinese suburbia to be exact. And images by Dave Wyatt documentingÂ it all.
As he explains:
Thames town is an English style new satellite town built close to Shanghai as part of the local governments â€˜One City â€“Nine Townsâ€™ plan. Â This plan was hatched out of the population boom being experienced in Shanghai. Â In the past 15 years the population has increased by 8 million and the landmass it covers has increased from 100sqkm to a staggering 680sqkm. Â Despite this growth Shanghai is still four times as densely populated as New York. Â The â€˜One City â€“Nine Townsâ€™ plan seeks to construct nine satellite towns around Shanghai. Â Six of these towns are to be themed on European style cities from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and Italy.
The rise of Chinaâ€™s new middle â€˜classâ€™ is resulting in the creation of a new suburbia, the same phenomenon as seen in post-war Britain and America. Â Now that disposable incomes are reaching levels that allow people to pay for better education, annual holidays and private accommodation, the landscape of China is changing in the same manner as seen in the West. Â This is Chinaâ€™s suburban revolution.
(Via Alejandro Cartagena‘s blog)
(The world is the new Epcot, o quÃ©)
One of Beijing’s new landmarks, the OMA desinged Cultural Centre of the CCTV complex, was burnt down due to a fireworks show that went wrong. The building was to be inagurated in May and hosted an hotel plus theaters and other cultural and recreational spaces.
Pictures fromÂ fuzheado‘s photo stream on flickr.
Says the You Might Like This Blog:
“Hong Hao is a Chinese artist who likes organising and grouping things. In this photographic work â€œmy thingsâ€Â thousands of scanned images are arranged together on a massive scale. when placed on a black background they become micro universes; personal-size objects to create distant galaxies or river deltas across a rubbish strewn landscape.”
DespuÃ©s del terremoto en China, como parte de un proyecto con estudiantes, el Hironori Matsubara Lab en la Universidad de Keio diseÃ±Ã³ escuelas temporales hechas de papel y cartÃ³n para la provincia de Sichuan.
Lee una entrevista de PingMag sobre este proyecto aquÃ.
(Gracias Pedrito por la info.)
(Click image to play Monocle Magazine reportage on Olympic architecture in Beijing.)
(And this is non-Olympian structure in Beijing was made by LOT-EK, “the gurus of shipping-container architecture”, who are now mixing prefabricated and standard elements in their newest work. Sanlitun South, a soon-to-be retail building, uses 151 shipping containers and other reused materials; the layout of the traditional Chinese hutong–densely packed neighborhoods punctuated by alleys and small courtyards–was used.)
(Continue reading after the break for a NY Times article Ã propos.)