More on the complexities of the situation of Chinese migrant labor and its similarities to the situation of illegal immigrants in the United States.
The first floor sinking, occupied by migrant workers. Above, several condos have been inhabited, but most floors remain empty, unused except as placeholders on accounting sheets. A section of Houhai Bin Road is being reconstructed. The chilly smog undulates.
We’ve known for a while that the Tangtou rowhouses had been condemned. In fact, for the second half of 2012 and a few months in 2013, CZC tried to rent a room for our art intervention, but could not because even though people still lived in the houses, there had been ongoing evictions. Instead, we ended up renting a handshake efficiency (302!)in Shangbaishi, near the Jiangnan Grocery Store.
Yesterday, I saw that they had actually begun the process of sealing off the alleys between buildings. But the eviction process is just that, a process and there are still signs of inhabitation. In addition, the well at the southern edge of the Tangtou row house plaza has been hidden behind a white screen. The screen, however, has created a semi-private area, where women seem more comfortable doing their laundry. In fact, I haven’t seen this many women working at the well in a while.
I also wandered south across Shennan Road into the actual Baishizhou, where the wall between the urbanized village and Window of the World dramatically announces mixed-use with post-modern characteristics. The Baishizhou side of the wall reads like a half-built and abandoned handshake building, while the WoW side models the Corcovado mountain range just outside Rio de Janeiro, where Christ the Redeemer blesses theme park visitors.
The Shenzhen University School of Architecture is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The School of Architecture has a particular place in the university’s history because (1) the first president, Luo Zhengqi was an architect and (2) the first class of students, along with their teachers, actually designed the campus and its earliest buildings.
To commemorate its history, the school has organized a travelling exhibit of notable designs by 26 graduates. All of the designs had won important competitions and/or were being built; in this very practical sense, the work of SZU architecture students is shaping how contemporary Chinese architects are imagining, designing and building space.
Zhong Qiao’s (钟乔) designs for the Hu Yaobang Memorial, for example, inserts shiny white lines into the rolling hills of terraced rice paddies.Similarly, Zhu Xiongyi and Wang Zhaoming alos located their design for the Chinese National Gene Bank (Shenzhen) among terraced rice paddies. Even more explicitly futuristic, Zeng Guansheng’s design, Hong Kong Alternative Car Park Tower literally sends us flying.
On paper, these designs are delicately beautiful, and yet a sence of futurism and unlimited potential unites the designs. They are ambitious illustrations of contemporary China’s urban imaginary. Some designs examples from the SZU School of Architecture retrospective:
The show opened last Saturday on the first floor of the School of Architecture building. It will travel to at least 10 other schools throughout China, returning to Shenzhen for a conference organized by the Shenzhen Center for Design on October 19.