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Shenzhen, China’s experimental Special Economic Zone, is often derided for its lack of history and culture. This is in no small part due to the fact that the city is essentially a boomtown that is more or less just over 30 years old. Yet making up for this drawback is the fact that the city has some of the most interesting and innovative new architecture being built in the country.

I was recently informed of a design for a compelling new project that fits the bill for Shenzhen’s growing stock of interesting buildings. The Yabao Hi-Tech Park is a new development by the Shenzhen-based Galaxy Group and designed by the architecture firm 10 Design. View full post »

  • Hao Hao Report - Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….ReplyCancel

Prosper Center, Beijing’s First LEED Gold Certified Building

The following is a guest post by Daniel Garst, a Beijing-based American writer. This article originally appeared in the March 24, 2011 China Daily Metro edition.

Nothing concentrates the mind of economic planners quite like political instability in key overseas energy suppliers.  China’s new Five Year Plan therefore not only mandates further reductions in the energy used in generating economic output, but also sets, for the first time, overall consumption goals.

Making buildings here more energy efficient will be one key element in achieving these goals.  A January 7, 2011 National Geographic News story states that the building sector absorbs 30% of China’s energy, a threefold increase since 1980. View full post »

Every now and again, I like to take a step back and refocus on China demographics to bring to light the sheer scale of the country in terms of population and economic growth. I do this because there are many commentators who still question the whole China urbanization program, scratching their heads while myopically looking at the same handful of so-called ‘ghost cities’ (many of which are actually mere districts of much larger municipalities). View full post »

Ningbo History Museum by architect Wang Shu

Last month, this year’s Pritzker Prize (architecture’s highest honor) was awarded to Chinese architect Wang Shu. The announcement was surprising for a few reasons. For one, consensus around the architecture blogosphere was that the award would go to a more high-profile architect such as Toyo Ito or Steven Holl, both looked over in recent years. Secondly, assuming that the Pritzker jury intentionally chose a Chinese architect, there were others who could have been considered such as Zhu Pei, Ma Qingyun, or Ma Yansong (perhaps still a bit too young).

The Chinese architects mentioned above derive inspiration from China’s ascendancy towards the future, pushing the limits of avant-garde building form. Wang Shu’s architecture, on the other hand, is rooted more in the past, exuding firmness and strength. In this regard, Wang’s architecture is more like last year’s Pritzker winner, Portugal’s Eduardo Souto de Moura, than his Chinese counterparts. View full post »

New development outside Jiangyou, Sichuan Province

The following post is an adaptation of a comment I made on my good friend and Chengdu-based American writer Sascha Matuszak’s recent ChengduLiving article about the development of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Zone. The comment recalls my own experience of a business trip to one of the smaller cities in the zone: Jiangyou, Sichuan Province:

Thanks for the update on the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Zone, Sascha. Having been to several of the 3rd and 4th tier cities in Sichuan you mentioned (Suining, Mianyang, Nanchong, etc..) I’ve often wondered how the prosperity in the region’s two dominant cities (Chengdu and Chongqing) would trickle into these other cities as well.

It seems as if most of the young ambitious Chinese people I meet from these cities who now live in Chengdu feel like there is nothing left for them in their hometowns. They also tell me that if they want to move ahead the best opportunities are found in Chengdu or Chongqing.

This isn’t to suggest that Chengdu and Chongqing will continue being the only cities absorbing all the region’s young, educated and ambitious talents. As is clear from what you wrote, the government is pushing for the prosperity to spread throughout the region. And given the enormous combined population of Sichuan Province/Chongqing Municipality at a whopping 110 million people, this is certainly a reasonable plan.

Unfortunately, observations on the ground often tell a different story. About a year and a half ago I was in a city called Jiangyou (famous as the hometown of the poet Li Bai and now actually considered a part of greater Mianyang) to meet with a housing developer for a potential new project. The developer had just finished building a series of faux Italian-style villas on the outskirts of town and reveled in showing us the finished product. No one had moved in yet, but the units were sold out. View full post »

  • Sascha - I recently had a long conversation with a couple “people in the know” about devolution of central power and management to places like Jiangyou and the shockingly shoddy work and rampant corruption that results from this transfer of power. They were very very pessimistic about the future of any of these cities, touted government developments or pet macro projects …

    Five years they said, and stuff will start falling apart, people will start asking questions, but by then, most of the guilty will already have absconded. Skrrd me.ReplyCancel

  • Adam Nathaniel Mayer - We have to wonder about that. As far as I can tell, the 1st tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen) and even 2nd tier cities (Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Xi’an, Dalian, Shenyang, etc…) will be just fine heading into the future given that so many resources have gone into developing these places and also they are big enough as to not escape the radar of the Central Government (what has recently happened in Chongqing is a perfect example).

    The future is more unpredictable for smaller cities like Jiangyou which can operate under the radar. Urbanization means people moving to the cities…but in the case of China it appears that the biggest cities are the ones gaining the most both in terms of population and quality of life benefits. As the biggest cities become too expensive though, more people may opt for 3rd and 4th tier cities and hopefully by this point they get their act together- otherwise there will be too much pressure on places like provincial capitals to provide benefits for its population- hence the slow but steady rate of hukou reform.ReplyCancel