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.

COSMO - Andrés Jaque MoMA PS1 Metropolis Mag

Andrés Jaques’ Discotheque Wants To Save the World

The least sexy, but perhaps most powerful, way to describe architects is as hyper-managerial-yet-visual. They can coordinate information and ideas from other fields, from economics to psychology and the social sciences, all to great effect when they bring their own unique visual and spatial intelligence to the table. That’s what I see in Andrés Jaques’ COSMO, 2015 winner of the coveted MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. The Program asks up-and-coming architects to design a structure that hosts their summer music series at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City.

Full disclosure: I’m a former student of Jaques (pronounced hack-ay) from my time at Columbia’s architecture program. While COSMO is by no means the first architectural project to focus on connecting the public to water infrastructure, or to tackle water scarcity in general, Jaque has produced a truly weird and kaleidoscopic concept. More than just a synthesis of engineering, biology, and chemistry, COSMO gives water infrastructure a unprecedented visual identity and user experience. Combined with an app that lets you monitor its water filtration from anywhere in the world, this is a structure (and an idea) that can go viral. Can’t wait to walk under, around, and within its unfamiliar ecologies.

Link to Andres Jaque’s MoMA PS1 Design on Metropolis Mag

Top Image: COSMO: Give me a pipe and I will move/celebrate the Earth, Courtesy Office for Political Innovation