Yesterday, I visited the former Tanglang Industrial Park, which has been rebranded as 集悦城 (SoFunLand), a residential area for young workers. The first floor of the factories have been rented out for commerce and the second to fourth (or sixth) floors have been retrofitted as dormitories. This, we are told, is the future of post-Baishizhou downtown; young migrants can live in the dorms until they secure housing elsewhere. Continue reading
If memory serves (and it tends to serve some agenda), I first visited Huaqiangbei (formerly the Shangbu Industrial Park) in 1995, when it was still primarily a manufacturing and residential area, but didn’t know what I was looking at. The big ideas in my head had to with workers rights and feminism, and so I was aware of the factories, the state sponsored housing, the few department stores, including the then still operative Friendship store, and the iconic Shanghai Hotel with its surprisingly good Cantonese dim sum. I noticed that neighboring Gangxia and Tianmian were under construction, but glossed this new urban morphology as a “new village.” I didn’t realize that the scale of immigration and construction that happened during the 90s and defined “Shenzhen” for me would be different enough from the 1980s that friends who arrived during the Special Zone’s first decade laughing asserted that Shenzhen was changing so quickly that if they didn’t visit a neighborhood for several years it was easy to get lost; Shenzhen in 1989 and 1999 were two different cities. And that was almost two decades ago.
More about why Shenzhen–and the forms of creativity that are being developed here–has far, far reaching effects. Full article over at the NYTimes, snippet, below.
Image Credit: Kristian Hammerstad
OVER the last decade, China has become, in the eyes of much of the world, a job-eating monster, consuming entire industries with its seemingly limitless supply of low-wage workers. But the reality is that China is now shifting its appetite to robots, a transition that will have significant consequences for China’s economy — and the world’s.
In 2014, Chinese factories accounted for about a quarter of the global ranks of industrial robots — a 54 percent increase over 2013. According to the International Federation of Robotics, it will have more installed manufacturing robots than any other country by 2017.
Midea, a leading manufacturer of home appliances in the heavily industrialized province of Guangdong, plans to replace 6,000 workers in its residential air-conditioning division, about a fifth of the work force, with automation by the end of the year. Foxconn, which makes consumer electronics for Apple and other…
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Yesterday, Handshake 302 won the first annual Shenzhen Creative Design Award in the category of creative synthesis. The other five categories included: architecture/space; product development; fashion; visual communication, and; interactive design. The awards recognized social design as an important element of design in general. The overall winners for “special contribution” included the Shenzhen based Ancient Village Network that provides technical and other support for village preservation and the OCT market, which provides young designers and artists a rent-free stalls to sell their products on weekends. Continue reading
I have come to think of “theories” in Chinese political culture to function like guidelines to acceptable behavior. The difficulty for folks in Shenzhen arise from contradictions between extant theories and changing social condititions, or what might be called “double bind theory”; General Secretary Xi Jinping has tightened the space of critical thinking and debate, even as his government, especially Premier Li Keqiang is exhorting people to be creative. But there’s the rub; people need to take critical stances in order to create new solutions to entrenched problems and critical stances have been routinely discouraged throughout the Reform and Opening era, begging the question: can Shenzhen evolve from “suck it up theory” to creativity? Continue reading
So, Huaqiangbei is the heart of Shenzhen’s maker culture. However, China Merchants Shekou has upped the production ante, establishing “net valley (网谷)”, a company slash investment strategy to produce and deploy the latest in digital gadgetry. Friday morning, we visited their showroom in order to learn about techno-possibilities and brainstorm events for the May cultural industries fair. The point of all this investment is to stimulate creativity (创新). And yet. I kept thinking how the form of contact–a tour and a meeting–made it all seem ordinary, despite the fact that we held our meeting in a room that went from being a library to a bird’s eye view of mountain tops. If my impressions of banal sci-fi seem familiar, it’s because much of this technology was first exhibited at the Shenzhen New Media Exhibition.
Utopian architecture in industrial Bao’an? Actually, yes. Developed over the past five years, the Wutong Island (梧桐岛–sometimes translated as Phoenix Tree Island) project combines Chinese ideas about nature, modernist architecture, and an evolving social vision for Shenzhen. Continue reading