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How China is Building Africa

I very distinctly remember my visit to China in Summer 2006: the vast cities wreathed in smog, the highways and ring roads snaking through them, the clusters and stand-alone generic skyscrapers. Shanghai was almost like New York City, Beijing a wholly unfamiliar, spread-out, kind of city. I recently had the chance to revisit those memories when reviewing a recent exhibition: Facing East: Chinese Urbanism in Africa, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City.

The exhibit explores how Chinese corporations are financing, planning, and building African cities and economies. While my review touches on urban design, economics, politics, and culture, it’s important to remember how these new African cities will be viscerally experienced by their inhabitants – through car rides, through dirty air, through homelessness, through business trips, through tourism. These places aren’t just intersections of abstract or global forces – they’re very real and there’s nothing quite like being there.

Link to the Article on Core77

PS. See this recent New York Times article for more on this subject.

Top Image: Facing East: Chinese Urbanism in Africa, 2015. Curated by Michiel Hulshof and Daan Roggevan. Storefront for Art and Architecture. Photo by Qi Lin.

[Guest Post] The Poetry of the Little-Known Red Brick Gallery

Dichen Ding is an Architectural Designer in New York City. She was born in China, received her Master of  Architecture from Columbia University and is currently working for TEN Arqitectos.

The Red Brick Art Gallery not only holds valuable artwork within its brick shell, but also offers amazingly choreographed and masterfully-crafted brick spaces that unfold as you move through them. Located in Northeastern Chaoyang District, Beijing No.1 International Art District, the entire gallery complex is around 20,000 square meters (about 180,000 sf) and the gallery itself takes up half that area. The Red Brick Art Gallery was founded by art collector Shijie Yan and Mei Cao and opened on May 23rd, 2014; the architect behind the gallery and its garden is Yugan Dong, a professor at Peking University’s architectural research center.  Dong is an architect who specializes in the use of red bricks; in this project he continues his exploration of red brick as an essential architectural element.  His efforts form a unique architectural language – as well as peaceful contemporary garden – in this modern gallery.

Top Image: Red Brick Art Gallery, All Photos Courtesy Red Brick Art Gallery.

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How To Create A Secular Saint – And Her Shrine

Local Essex woman Julie Cope never lived or died, but sure enough, in a peaceful Essex field you can find a building that commemorates her life in every detail. Tapestries, tiles, statues, and other objects use various symbols and imagery to communicate the story of her life: her gradual rise up Britain’s socioeconomic ladder, her marriages and children, and her untimely demise at the hands (wheel?) of a food delivery motorbike. This shrine, which doubles as a vacation home, is part of a unique series of architectural experiments being commissioned in Britain by the organization Living Architecture. Read on learn about their undertaking, the house’s design, and how it was created through a close collaboration between artist Peter Grayson and architect Charles Holland.

Link to Architectural Record Article

Top Image: A House for Essex, Photo © Jack Hobhouse

An Accidental Icon of War

I can think to no less likely an architectural icon than a generic airport. From their big atriums to their overpriced shops, your laborious pace of travel is frequently accented by the inane chatter of CNN on every television. It’s a sight many of us know all to well. In a strange twist, that familiarity has propelled the ruins of an airport in the Ukraine to internet celebrity. Read on to find out more.

Link to the Article

Image: Donetsk Airport, from mageganker/imgur.