Thursday, February 26, 2009

A very Chinese experiment

Coping with growth - MAD commission 11 young architects to design Huaxi city centre. In 2008, MAD organized and invited 11 young international architects to carry out an urban experiment: to design the Huaxi city centre of Guiyang, in South Western China during a three day workshop. The architects invited by MAD were: Atelier Manferdini (USA), BIG (Denmark), Dieguez Fridman (Argentina), EMERGENT/Tom Wiscombe (USA), HouLiang Architecture (China), JDS (Denmark/Belgium) , MAD (China), Mass Studies (Korea), Rojkind Arquitectos (Mexico), Serie (UK/India), Sou Fujimoto Architects (Japan). The masterplan was developed by Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute, Studio 6, together with MAD.

In the past 15 years, around 10 billion sqm of built space has been created in the urban areas of China. In 20 years time, another 200 to 400 new cities will be built. Until now, the results of this overwhelming urbanization have been defined by high-density, high-speed and low-quality duplication: the urban space is meaningless, crowded and soulless.

MAD asked the questions: Are we going to continue copying the skyline of Western cities created over a hundred years of industrial civilisation? ; Will Manhattan and Chicago continue to be our model city, even after 15 years of urban construction in China?; Is there an alternative future for our cities that lies in the current social condition, where new technologies leave the machine age behind, and where the city increasingly invades the natural space? - Based on an Eastern understanding of nature, this joint urban experiment aimed to explore whether we can use new technologies and global ideas to reconnect the natural and man-made world.

Each architect provided a unique design for a single part of the masterplan, based on their own understanding and interpretation of the local natural and cultural elements. The result is a series of organic individual buildings, growing from the natural environment, and working together to produce a compound of diverse urban activities.

A MAD spokesman says: "China has become the global laboratory for urbanization, where the logical endpoint of current architectural trends can be seen, and the effects of leaving private developers to create cities can be most keenly felt.

This urban experiment is not intended as an idealized urban reality, but as an attempt to push these trends to their purest forms, with all of the benefits and problems that this brings. MAD is aware of, and actively encouraging, the failings and successes of this project."



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