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The following piece appears in the new issue of the architecture journal CLOG:RENDERING

Urban Fantasies in China: Architectural Visualization

Architectural visualization specialists are the overlooked laborers involved in the vast China urban development program. They differ from architects in that they do not have design training beyond very specific knowledge of software programs such as 3D Studio Max© or the Adobe Creative Suite©. While some Chinese architecture firms employ in-house visualization specialists, most rendering work is outsourced to gigantic three-dimensional modeling studios.

Stepping into one of these studios is much like walking into a factory (one office can employ upwards of one thousand people), but instead of workers assembling widgets along conveyer belts, rows of workers hunch over their desktop computers for hours on end, producing images to be used in presentations to high-level officials or real estate marketing brochures. Just as in a factory, workers are assigned to one specific task: three-dimensional modeling, rendering (material and camera view selection) or post-production work in Adobe© Photoshop© – there is no overlap in roles. View full post »

  • msasch - too short, would have loved to hear you really go off on this. but as is a tantalizingly interesting look into that world.ReplyCancel

  • Adam Nathaniel Mayer - Sascha, unfortunately the guidelines for the journal in which this piece was included called for entries to keep to a 500-word max limit. But you are correct in that I could’ve elaborated a lot more on the subject.

    It is not all bad, in a sense: as designers we need to show our clients renderings so they can understand what they are paying for. I worked with highly skilled rendering specialists in China, but the key was in being very vigilant about what they represent in these images because without guidance they would’ve more than likely relied on too much ‘copy and paste’.ReplyCancel

Before and After Photos of ‘Quanjude’, a famous Peking Duck Establishment in Qianmen Since 1864

It is a familiar narrative across China’s cities: historic districts routinely razed to make way for new developments comprised of high-rise residential communities and retail mixed-use complexes designed to reflect China’s 21st Century image.

Yet in some of China’s more high-profile historic neighborhoods, redevelopment is conceived to capture the spirit what was once previously on site by rebuilding in traditional Chinese architectural styles. ‘Tourist Streets’, as these kinds of developments are referred to by developers and government officials, are a hot project type in China- nearly every city wants one. They range from accurate recreations of China’s past to cheap pastiche. View full post »

Blue Dot = Current Western Extent of MTR Hong Kong Island Line (Sheung Wan)       Red Dot = Terminus of Island Line Western Extension To Open in 2014 (Kennedy Town)

Infrastructure development continues in Hong Kong as the city’s Metro Transit Railway (MTR) extends its underground Island Line into the city’s Western District. Beginning construction in 2009, the western extension of the Island Line (dubbed the ‘West Island Line’) is set to open in 2014. The Island Line currently ends at Sheung Wan, one stop west of Central (Hong Kong’s central business district), but the extension will add three new stops, including Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong University, and terminating at Kennedy Town. View full post »

  • Hao Hao Report - Someone thinks this story is hao-tastic…

    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

  • easternodysseymusic - I should image they will start developing the land as well. Start nocking down all the old flats. Always a problem with these public transport development plans.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Great article! Just wondering: is the West Island MTR Line opening date still June 2014? I can’t seem to find something recent on Google…

    Also, will all stations open at the same time or will it be staggered with Sai Ying Pun / HKU first?


With the ongoing spate of food safety scandals, Chinese consumers are rightly weary of the source and quality of their food. Unfortunately, food quality regulatory bodies in China remain unreliable and direct access to fresh food sources is limited for an increasingly urbanized populace. This is one of the great contradictions of China’s urban development: a country which for most of its history was majority agriculturally based is on the fast track to be one of the most urbanized nations in the world.

Status conscious Chinese urbanites would rather not associate with anything related to farming, as it evokes the recent memory of rural peasant life. For many upwardly mobile city dwellers, international restaurant chains like KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut are considered the best options for upper-class ‘healthy’ dining (that is, food with high caloric content).

The urban growth of China is a boon to these chains as more American consumers shun them in favor of a more organic, natural diet. The shift in American consumer preferences is reflected in the success of supermarket chain Whole Foods, local farmers markets, and the growing popularity of the Slow Food movement.

Given China’s new-found love affair with processed food and growing ambivalence about the role of agriculture, I was confident there was probably not much interest in organic farming. That was until I visited Anlong Village- a wholly organic, zero waste farm 50 km northwest of central Chengdu. With a full-time population of 3,000 residents, Anlong Village is sponsored by the Chengdu Urban Rivers Association (CURA), a local non-profit NGO. View full post »

  • a - how did you visit?ReplyCancel

  • Scott Kennelly - Thank you for writing this. It is a very interesting read. I thought there was much more organic farming in China, but I guess I was mistaken. I also thought that about 75% of the population was still working and living on farms in rural areas. I guess that is not true either.ReplyCancel

  • Nicolas Vereecken - Thank you for a great article! I would like to visit this place in spring 2016 — can you let me know which Anlong it is? There are 3 villages with this name on my map… !!! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE - Nice post…..the article is very information and well said. Please do the have agriculture training centre in the village. ThanksReplyCancel

  • Massamba Mbaye - i must bring my cliebts in chengdu to visiting chicken farmReplyCancel

  • Guide to IB CAS Trips - Which Service Trip to Asia? | TLA - […] Village is an experimental eco farm, a chemical-free zone and boasts a host of eco-friendly initiatives. Work on the farm and ask the farmers about why they’re so passionate about working in […]ReplyCancel