World Architecture Festival shortlist

Source: Radii (8/21/18)
Here are the Chinese Projects That Made the World Architecture Festival 2018 Shortlist
By Jake Newby
Here are the Chinese Projects That Made the World Architecture Festival 2018 Shortlist

With a main event taking place at the end of November in Amsterdam, the World Architecture Festival bills itself as “the world’s largest, live, inclusive and interactive global architectural awards programme and festival”. So how big is it? Well, their shortlist features 536 projects from 81 different countries. They’re nothing if not comprehensive.

There are over 35 categories of award, with most prizes broken down into recently completed and “coming soon” buildings and projects. That’s a lot to wade through, but there are some truly stunning creations to click around on on their website. Continue reading

Historic Shanghai theater makes a comeback

Source: China Daily (5/26/18)
Historical theater makes a comeback
By Zhang Kun in Shanghai

The facade of the Great Theater of China in Shanghai. Provided to China Daily

The 88-year-old Great Theater of China in Shanghai was reopened on May 16 after two years of renovations.

Located near People’s Square at 704 Niuzhuang Road in downtown Shanghai, the facility was built in 1930 as a prime venue for Peking Opera performance. Famous artists such as Mei Lanfang, Ma Lianliang and Meng Xiaodong used to sing in the theater, which was known as one of the “Top Four Stages” of Peking Opera.

The building was listed as a protected historical structure by the municipality in 2005. Huangpu district authorities later made the decision to renovate the building in 2012. The Ever Shining Cultural Group, the operator of the theater, invited RHWL Architects from Britain to work alongside a Chinese team for the renovation. Continue reading

Chinese architecture struggles to find its identity

Source: LARB China Channel (4/16/18)
Essence and Form: Chinese Architecture Struggles to Find its Identity
By Matt Turner

When Xi Jinping called for an end to “weird buildings” in a 2014 speech, journalists raced to point out their favorite offenders, from showpieces of contemporary architecture like Beijing’s massive CCTV tower or the Olympic “Bird’s Nest” Stadium, to less known (but no less striking) examples: buildings shaped like coins, sages, various teapots, and even the USS Enterprise. In comparison to these architectural oddities, Xi praised traditional Chinese architecture and the values it inspires (primarily loyalty to the state). Continue reading

Cross-Currents 26

New China-Related Content: Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review (March 2018 online issue): March 2018 e-Journal (No. 26)

Co-editors’ Note to Readers


Imagining China’s Children: Lower-Elementary Reading Primers and the Reconstruction of Chinese Childhood, 1945–1951
Carl Kubler, University of Chicago

Japanese Modernism at a “Branch Point”: On the Museum of Modern Art, Hayama’s 1937 Exhibition
Kevin Michael Smith, University of California, Davis

Review Essays

Transcultural, Resistant, Everyday: New Photographic Histories of China and Japan
Shana J. Brown, University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa
Luke Gartlan and Roberta Wue, eds. Portraiture and Early Studio Photography in China and Japan. New York: Routledge, 2017.
David Odo. The Journey of “A Good Type”: From Artistry to Ethnography in Early Japanese Studies. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum Press, Harvard University, 2015.
Kerry Ross. Photography for Everyone: The Cultural Lives of Cameras and Consumers in Early Twentieth-Century Japan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015. Continue reading

Chroniclers of Chinese architecture

Source: NYT (4/12/18)
Overlooked No More: Lin Huiyin and Liang Sicheng, Chroniclers of Chinese Architecture
查看简体中文版 | 查看繁體中文版
In the 1930s, the couple began surveying and recording the country’s overlooked ancient buildings, in an effort to begin preserving them.
By Daniel E. Slotnik

Lin Huiyin and Liang Sicheng on their honeymoon in Europe in 1928.CreditCPA/Picture Alliance

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. We launched Overlooked to tell the stories of women who left indelible marks on society, but whose deaths went unremarked by our newspaper. Now we’re expanding our lens to include other notable people — many of them marginalized — who were omitted.

Many of China’s ancient architectural treasures crumbled to dust before Lin Huiyin and Liang Sicheng began documenting them in the 1930s. In China, ancient structures were usually treated like any other buildings rather than being protected and studied, as they were in many Western countries. The husband and wife team were among the first preservationists to operate in China, and by far the best known. Their efforts have since inspired generations of people to speak out for architecture threatened by the rush toward development. Continue reading

Hangzhou museum memorializes Xu Zhimo

Source: China Daily (4/9/18)
Hangzhou museum memorializes poet Xu Zhimo

The main gate of the new Xu Zhimo Memorial Museum, in a photo taken on April 8, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

The Xu Zhimo Memorial Museum in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou has reopened to the public after being relocated to Lane 600 in the city’s Xicheng district.

With this upgrade to the old museum site, a new area has been set up to narrate the late Chinese poet’s bond to Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

Born in Zhejiang, Xu Zhimo (1987-1931) is one of China’s best-loved poets. In the 1920s, Xu studied at King’s College in Cambridge University. His poem, Farewell to Cambridge, written in 1928 when he made a later visit, is one of his most widely known pieces, learned by millions of schoolchildren across China. Continue reading

Urban diseases

Source: Sup China (3/26/18)
Shanghai and Beijing: China’s incredible shrinking megacities
What ailes China’s big cities, and what can be done to cure them?
By Lucas Niewenhuis

It’s a question that’s on a lot of policy makers’ minds in China, and one with incredible consequences depending on how it’s answered. The ailments of the cities — what are known as “urban diseases” (城市病 chéngshì bìng; also known as “big city disease”) in China — are familiar to major metropolises around the world, but there is substantial disagreement about how to treat them:

  • Traffic jams
  • Environmental degradation
  • Water scarcity
  • Housing scarcity
  • Employment scarcity
  • Social services scarcity

Continue reading

Quarry hotel

Source: The Guardian (3/22/18)
Views are the pits: welcome to China’s quarry hotel
Sixteen of Shanghai hotel’s 18 floors are technically underground, and the bottom two will be underwater
By Benjamin Haas, China correspondent

The Shanghai quarry hotel will feature two storeys that are underwater.

The Shanghai quarry hotel will feature two storeys that are underwater. Photograph: Atkins/REX/Shutterstock

A hotel built in an abandoned quarry that plunges 80 metres below ground level is nearing completion in China, part of a wave of ambitious architectural projects spurred by rapid economic growth.

The majority of the hotel on the outskirts of Shanghai hugs the wall of a deep pit, and 16 of the 18 floors are technically below ground, with two floors slated to sit underwater in a lake at the bottom of the quarry. There will be 336 rooms and an underwater restaurant when the Sheshan Shimao quarry hotel opens in late May. Continue reading

Migrant memorabilia

Source: The World of Chinese (3/22/18)
Migrant Memorabilia
Objects and memories left in the suburban rubble
By Alexander Cecil McNab

There are few real residents left in Beneficent Temple slum. Aside from a man smoking his cigarette outside, a woman who hasn’t yet signed the relocation contract, and a few stragglers with the security guards (bao’an) knocking on their doors, it’s mostly just people like me—vultures, scavengers here to collect the ruins. I see a woman walking away with a cart full of scrap metal.

I talk to a man wrapping old electrical wires that he says he’s going sell. I am here, however, to collect something of a different sort of value: the stories of the residents that were and the objects that they’ve left behind. Continue reading

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