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.
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.
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.
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Digital design meets traditional Chinese craftsmanship in a pavilion constructed like a paper lantern
Hong 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.”
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.
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.
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.