Eden Qingdao to feature highest indoor waterfall

Source: The Guardian (2/2/18)
Chinese Eden Project to feature world’s highest indoor waterfall
Qingdao counterpart of Cornish attraction will cost £150m and will be themed around water
By Steven Morris 

Part of an artist’s impression of Eden Qingdao. 

The world’s highest indoor waterfall is to be the centrepiece of a Chinese outpost of the Cornish eco attraction the Eden Project.

Work on the £150m scheme at the coastal city of Qingdao, north-east China is due to begin this year and open to the public in 2020.

While the Cornish Eden is very much a landlocked project, with its iconic biomes set in a disused clay pit, its Chinese counterpart will be themed around water. Continue reading

Court sides with victims of illegal demolitions

Source: Sixth Tone (2/1/18)
Supreme Court Sides With Victims of Illegal Demolitions
Governments who repossess land without first coming to an agreement with previous owners now liable for damages.
By Fan Liya

A demolition site in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, July 9, 2017. Yuan Shan/VCG.

China’s supreme court has ruled that local governments who seize people’s land and demolish their houses before coming to an agreement are liable for the damages.

Compulsory land acquisition is one of China’s most contentious issues, and the verdict suggests a shift in how such cases are handled.

On Jan. 25, the third circuit court of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) ruled that a district government in eastern China’s Zhejiang province owed damages to a resident for demolishing his properties without prior agreement on compensation. The verdict, made public on Tuesday, overturned previous rulings saying the resident was only entitled to his due compensation for land acquisition, even though the demolition had been deemed illegal. Continue reading

Propaganda on my morning commute

Source: NYT (1/28/18)
The Propaganda I See on My Morning Commute

In Sanlitun Soho, a commercial and office complex in Beijing, a giant electronic billboard displays this message from the Chinese Communist Party: “The people have faith. The nation has hope. The state has strength.” Credit Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

BEIJING — People joke that it’s now easier in many Chinese cities to use Communist Party slogans rather than street names to give directions.

Looking for a bank in Downtown Beijing?

Walk past the screen proclaiming, “The people have faith,” take a right at the poster glorifying President Xi Jinping and cross the footbridge with the banner declaring a new era of prosperity for China. Continue reading

Life-size replica of the Titanic

Source: NPR (1/8/18)
A Life-Size Replica Of The Titanic Is Under Construction In China’s Countryside
By Rob Schmitz/NPR

A 30-foot by 30-foot mock-up of the Titanic replica now under construction stands near the construction site in China’s Sichuan Province. Rob Schmitz/NPR

A lot of questions spring to mind on arriving at the construction site for a full-scale Chinese replica of the Titanic:

Why is this being built in the remote countryside, 1,000 miles from the sea? Why is this being built? And simply: Why?

The infomercial the developer screens for visitors at the site in the town of Daying, Sichuan Province, leaves these questions unanswered. Continue reading

HK rail station to be subject to mainland laws

Source: Reuters (12/27/17)
China says part of Hong Kong rail station to be subject to mainland laws
By Christian Shepherd and Venus Wu

Laborers work in front of West Kowloon Terminus, under construction for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, in Hong Kong, China July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s parliament on Wednesday said part of a high-speed railway station being built in Hong Kong would be regarded as mainland territory governed by mainland laws, an unprecedented move that critics say further erodes the city’s autonomy.

Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997, when it was granted a high degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” arrangement, giving it a separate police force, immigration controls, an independent judiciary and freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Continue reading

Shenzhen’s new culture centre

Source: SCMP (12/1/17)
Shenzhen’s new V&A-approved culture centre to showcase city’s artistic side
The Chinese megacity has grown rapidly over the last 35 years and with its new Sea World Culture and Arts Centre opening in December it’s looking to make as big an impact in culture as it has in industry
By Cathy Adams

Artist’s rendering of the full Design Society complex in Shenzhen, created by architect Fumihiko Maki.

Artist’s rendering of the full Design Society complex in Shenzhen, created by architect Fumihiko Maki

Shenzhen is a border town, tech hub, factory floor and somewhere Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has labelled a “generic city”: malleable enough to change its form with the times.

This Pearl River Delta megalopolis is China’s richest city, having grown from 30,000 inhabitants in 1980 – when it was designated the first special economic zone – to almost 12 million today. With Shenzhen’s mushrooming size (the fourth-highest megatall in the world, the Ping An Finance Centre, glares across the river towards Hong Kong) comes ballooning ambition, because Koolhaas’s generic city is now eyeing developments in art and design. Continue reading

Institute of Network Society 2017

Another Walk with Lefebvre – The Second Annual Conference of the Institute of Network Society (Hangzhou, 11-12 Nov. 2017)
China Academy of Art
Hangzhou, China
11-12 Nov. 2017

Our collective celebration will bring together researchers from the U.K., Canada, Italy, France, Australia, Japan as well as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. This year, we draw our critical impetus from one key thinker of modernity: Henri Lefebvre. Our aim is to rediscover his work through today’s urban and algorithmic mutations. Inspired by Lefebvre, our four panels will engage in the creative act of depicting and re-inventing urban space and everyday life:

1-Marxist Philosophy and Critical Methods
2-Today’s (Digital) Everyday
3-Urban Imagination and New Geographies
4-Global Algorithmic Production. Continue reading

Asia dreams in skyscrapers

Source: NYT (10/11/17)
Asia Dreams in Skyscrapers

The skyline of Shenzhen, China, in 2017. Credit Justin Chin/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

The skyscraper was born in the United States, but in recent years, it has grown and flourished in Asia. Countries there recognize that to be seen as a player on the global stage, it helps to have tall buildings.

Over a century ago, New York and Chicago demonstrated that the skyscraper is, fundamentally, a solution to an economic problem: how to allow for hundreds, if not thousands, of people and businesses to be at the same place at the same time. Urban clustering, especially in a high-tech world, is more important than ever. By promoting density, skyscrapers confer a competitive advantage and allow a city to become a beacon of commerce. Continue reading

Right to the city in China

Source: Chinoiserie (9/28/17)
Commons and the Right to the City in Contemporary China
By Carlo Inverardi-Ferri

Photo by the author.

This short essay tells the story of Dongxiaokou, an urban village in the northern outskirt of Beijing, infamously known in the press as the ‘waste village’ (feipincun). Until urban redevelopment projects accelerated its demolition in recent years, this informal settlement had been one of the biggest in the metropolis. Situated between the Fifth and Sixth ring road, around ten kilometres from the city centre, it hosted a massive population of migrant workers, who had made this place their home and used it as a base to enter the Chinese capital’s labour market. Continue reading

Chinese cities never livable

Source: Sixth Tone (10/2/17)
China’s Cities: Exotic, Modern, Dynamic — But Never ‘Livable’?
Western-centric metrics focusing on the lifestyles of a wealthy global elite ignore the real reasons why people love living in cities like Shanghai.
By Harry den Hartog (Harry den Hartog is an independent urban designer and author of ‘Shanghai New Towns: Searching for Community and Identity in a Sprawling Metropolis.’)

A jogger takes some morning exercise on the Bund in Shanghai, Dec. 8, 2016. Hai Sen/VCG.

Shanghai is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most avant-garde cities, filled with contrasts and extremes, continuously renewing itself and expanding rapidly. It attracts hundreds of thousands of immigrants yearly, including many foreigners, and most of them come for economic reasons. Since 2010, a steadily growing “creative class” drawn from industries like science, academia, engineering, writing, design, and architecture has made China’s biggest city its home. Continue reading

A new face for Datong

Source: Sixth Tone (9/24/17)
How an Architect’s Legacy Inspired a New Face for Datong
More than eight decades after Liang Sicheng’s visit, the heavily industrialized city is finally embracing its imperial past.
By Gu Cun

This article is the fourth in a series about Liang Sicheng, one of China’s best loved architects. Parts onetwo, and three can be found here.

Traditional and modern buildings stand side by side in Datong, Shanxi province, Nov. 9, 2014. Li Kun for Sixth Tone

On Nov. 18 last year, the western city wall of Datong, an industrial sprawl home to more than 3 million in northern China’s Shanxi province, was buzzing with activity as a throng of people gathered to celebrate its completion. The wall’s restoration spanned eight years and was the result of colossal investment from the municipal government.

Local media have tended to view the wall as a milestone in Datong’s ongoing transition from its traditional role as an industrial city to a tourist destination. A popular tourist route now winds its way through the city and its surroundings, beginning with the Buddhist grottoes of Yungang to the northwest, skirting the Huayan and Shanhua temples in the city center, on toward the Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple in Ying County, around 100 kilometres to the south, and finally to the Hanging Temple in the city’s southeast. Continue reading

Why towns lay claim to poets, philosophers, and emperors

Source: SCMP (7/12/17)
Why Chinese towns are so keen to lay claim to poets, philosophers and emperors
By Amy Yan

A temple honouring Liu Bang in Pei county. Photo: Handout

The case is the latest example of towns or counties on the mainland claiming links to famous ancient Chinese figures such as emperors, philosophers or poets as they try to lure investment and tourists.

Feng and Pei county administered by the city of Xuzhou in Jiangsu province have for years laid claim to the Emperor Gaozu, who was born as Liu Bang. He was the first emperor of the Han dynasty (206BC-AD220) and there are buildings and tourist spots linked to Liu in both counties.

Now the city government has ruled on the matter. Continue reading

Singapore dispute

Source: NYT (7/4/17)
Dispute Over Singapore Founder’s House Becomes a National Crisis

SINGAPORE — Two years after his death, no memorials, statues or streets in Singapore are named after Lee Kuan Yew, who established this city-state as a modern nation and built it into a prosperous showcase for his view that limited political freedoms best suit Asian values.

Now a bitter and public family dispute over the fate of his modest house has shattered Singapore’s image as an orderly authoritarian ideal and hinted at deeper divisions about its political future. Continue reading

Liang Sicheng, Lin Huiyin, part 2

Source: Sixth Tone (7/3/17)
The Ivy League Architects Who Revitalized Design in China
During their studies at Penn and Harvard, Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin acquired the knowledge that paved the way for China’s first Pritzker Architecture Prize.
By Gu Cun (Gu Cun is a registered architect and a volunteer advocate for the promotion and protection of traditional Chinese architecture.)

This article is the second in a series about Liang Sicheng, one of China’s best-known architects. The first article can be found here.

A bronze statue of Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin stands on the campus of Tsinghua University, Beijing, April 10, 2011. Gong Wenbao/VCG

In order to retrace the investigative path that Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin walked through China, one must begin at an American college.

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) first began offering architecture courses in 1868, and the addition of French architect Paul Philippe Cret to the school’s faculty in 1903 turned the university’s architecture department into one of the United States’ most prominent destinations for architectural students. The department attracted a great deal of Chinese students during the first half of the 20th century. Among these students were the young Liang Sicheng and his wife-to-be, Lin Huiyin. Continue reading

HK is in trouble

Source: NYT (6/29/17)
Once a Model City, Hong Kong Is in Trouble
When the British left 20 years ago, Hong Kong was seen as a rare blend of East and West that China might seek to emulate. Now, increasingly, it’s a cautionary tale.
By Keith Bradsher, Photographs by Lam Yik Fei

HONG KONG — When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule two decades ago, the city was seen as a model of what China might one day become: prosperous, modern, international, with the broad protections of the rule of law.

There was anxiety about how such a place could survive in authoritarian China. But even after Beijing began encroaching on this former British colony’s freedoms, its reputation as one of the best-managed cities in Asia endured.

The trains ran on time. Crime and taxes were low. The skyline dazzled with ever taller buildings. Continue reading