The transformation of Shanghai is unique in its speed, scale, and politics. Shanghai Transforming Blog is an on-going project to continue to develop a picture of the changing city. Shanghai Transforming is a research project, a publication edited by Iker Gil of MAS Studio and was exhibited at the Chicago Architecture Foundation and at the School of Architecture + Design at Virginia Tech.
A coal-conveying platform from the 1950s and a parking garage from the first decade of the 21st century act as unlikely form-givers to Atelier Deshaus’s new Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai. The 355,000-square-foot project deftly serves the art it displays—the private collection of local couple Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei. Yet its ability to create striking architecture from undervalued remnants of previous construction may be its true masterpiece. By turning these liabilities into assets, the building stands out from the myriad of new museums being built in China. (Architectural Record)
(The Sanquan factory in Zhengzhou, China, which produces frozen dumplings and frozen glutinous rice balls. Photo by Massimo Vitali for The New York Times)
When Chen founded Sanquan, fewer than one in 10 of his fellow citizens even owned a refrigerator. In the eastern megacities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, it wasn’t until the late 1980s — as electrical grids became more reliable and families had more disposable income — that refrigerators became a fixture of most homes. For second- and third-tier cities, like Zhengzhou, they arrived even more slowly. But in the 12 years between 1995 and 2007, China’s domestic refrigerator-ownership numbers have jumped to 95 percent from just 7 percent of urban families.
An artificial winter has begun to stretch across the country, through its fields and its ports, its logistics hubs and freeways. China had 250 million cubic feet of refrigerated storage capacity in 2007; by 2017, the country is on track to have 20 times that. At five billion cubic feet, China will surpass even the United States, which has led the world in cold storage ever since artificial refrigeration was invented. And even that translates to only 3.7 cubic feet of cold storage per capita, or roughly a third of what Americans currently have — meaning that the Chinese refrigeration boom is only just beginning. (New York Times)
(Shanghai 2010 World Expo - April 2014 | MovingCities Instagram)
Making architecture in China is not easy; occupying it is even more difficult. In recent years, amazing stories have appeared in various media about China’s shoddy construction culture, copycat designs, empty icons, and building projects apparently doomed to remain unfinished forever. These are projects designed not only by local amateurs but also by global dealers in iconic architecture. The bad detailing of Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House, the lacuna that is Herzog & de Meuron’s Bird’s Nest, and the ongoing almost-finished status of Rem Koolhaas’s CCTV headquarters could give the impression that China has been constructing mainly empty shells over the past few years.
China also seems to be building too much, as exemplified by the overly discussed ghost city of Ordos鄂尔多斯 (and the phantom villas of the Ordos 100 project) or, for that matter, any suburb of any large Chinese city. It’s often hard to find architectural pearls in China’s gigantic opaque pool of building blandness while scouting for Mark magazine. Hard but not impossible, as evidenced by the many Chinese projects that have appeared in the first 50 issues of the magazine.
(Migrant workers pictured at Shanghai’s railway station. Photo by Reuters)
What is it like to work as a migrant worker in Shanghai? A government-backed poetry contest offers some clues.
In a contest that saw winners announced this weekend, migrant laborers were asked to write poetry about “the beauty of labor” and the “China Dream,” a phrase promoted by Chinese Xi Jinping that now peppers urban billboards as well as official rhetoric. The poetry competition, the first of its kind in Shanghai, was held by a roster of state groups, including the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions and the Shanghai Spiritual Civilization Construction Committee Office.
Some of the poetry comes up with the rosy language you would expect with such prompts: “Beautiful Memories in Shanghai,” and “A Different Sun Each Day” were each among the titles of poems that won awards, according to Xu Ze, the chair of the organizing committee, which came with cash prizes between 1,000 ($161) and 3,000 yuan. Another particularly patriotic submission praised factory workers’ ability to withstand “insults and grievances” and declared, “Come on, Chinese workers! You are our greatest heroes.” (Wall Street Journal)
(From left to right: James Griffin, President Vancouver film School (seated) middle back, interpreter. Right side: Weng Tie Hui, vice-mayor of Shanghai.)
The Vancouver Film School is teaming up with Shanghai University to open and run a film school in the Chinese city later this year.
James Griffin, president of the VFS, said when the doors to the new campus in the centre of Shanghai open this fall, there could be as many as 100 students in the school. Within five to seven years, enrollment is expected to reach 1,000.
Griffin said the VFS has signed a 15-year agreement to run the new institution, which will be called the Shanghai Vancouver Film School. Within seven years, he said, the school could generate as much as $50 million annually in tuition for the VFS. (The Vancouver Sun)
(A adjacent to a bird sanctuary on Shanghai’s Chongming island marks the spot where China links to the Internet by undersea cable from the U.S. Photo by James T. Areddy/The Wall Street Journal)
Chongming Island juts out of China’s east coast midway between Russia and Australia, a choice place to glimpse herons, spoonbills and other migratory birds.
The island district of Shanghai also hosts critical landing points in China for the Internet, which some technology experts say makes it an ideal perch to spy on cyberspace. And binoculars aren’t needed around the wetlands to spot traces of a People’s Liberation Army unit that, according to current and former U.S. officials, spearheads eavesdropping on North America.
Adjacent to Chongming’s Dongtan national bird sanctuary, a space-age tower marks the landing station for a behemoth telecommunications backbone called the China-U.S. Cable Network and possibly a newer and faster network called the Trans-Pacific Express that also comes ashore on the island.
Plans have been presented for David Adjaye‘s first architectural work in China, a proposed mixed-use development in Shanghai’s Gubei central business district. Located close to the city’s Hongqiao Park, ‘Gubei SOHO‘ is surrounded by natural landscape, offering employees and visitors the chance to relax in a number of adjacent green spaces. (Designboom)
Cycling rates have decreased in Shanghai in recent years, and the same problem can be seen all over China. In decades past China was called the “Kingdom of the Bicycle” where massive populations were moved around by massive amounts of bikes. As recently as 1998 some 63% of all journeys in the city of Jinan were made by bicycle.
By 2011 that figure had fallen to 10%. In Shanghai, cycling rates fell by 60% over the same period. These sobering figures are from the World Bank, who are rarely breathless about this sort of thing. (Mark K Ames for Sustainable Cities Collective)