If China will face a housing crisis in the future, it will be an affordable one. After decades of focusing on industrialization and urbanization, it may be well expected that in the coming decade the notion of “hybrid habitation” will become a new driver for China’s social-economical development. The new issue of Bezalel Papers on Architecture [issue#2] is out, including a text by MovingCities called China’s New Housing Agenda.
The Bezalel Papers on Architecture is
a new online magazine published by the Department of Architecture at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. Positioned between architecture, artistic practice and political thinking, the magazine invites designers, artists and writers to contribute short textual or image-based statements on shared themes that probe into contemporary issues of architectural culture.
Its editor is Dan Handel whom, along with Yonathan Cohen, we collaborated with in 2008 to make the City/State workshop – “What can we learn from China?”-workshop possible. In his foreword On Realism Dan Handel phrases the objective of this issue as following:
Can architecture work without preconceptions? That was the driving question through which we sought to outline the framework of architectural realism. Initially, that question grew from interest in an idea once experimented with in Israeli art; that is, that estranging modernization can be challenged by a social[ist] realism, which would imagine and intertwine itself with the people for the representation of new publics.
In the first issue of the Bezalel Papers on Architecture we were very intrigued and impressed by a piece called An Interview with Trebor Irutnev by Jose Ahedo. This contribution recalls the work that Trebor Irutnev conducted from the fifties up until the eighties in the USSR and in almost every other Soviet satellite state. The commissions included government facilities in Poland, industrial master plans for Romania, a small airport in Bulgaria, sanitary buildings and social housing constructed in the German Democratic Republic and an endless list of many other masterpieces. A couple of quotes from the interview:
I began working at the factory when I was twelve. I had a really hard time adjusting to those hard conditions. I was only a kid, and I was terrified. After a while I got used to it and, later on, ventilation systems started to really interest me. By the time I was seventeen, that interest developed into a deep obsession with vents and how they worked and structured buildings. […] I had a long lasting friendship with Rem Koolhaas. We kept writing letters to each other for almost ten years. I told him about my obsession about ventilation systems, about how they could totally shape and drive any building. After that, we lost contact , probably because he was extremely busy. I was quite surprised when Junkspace was released because it was relying on issues we discussed fifteen years before. He did not send even an email to tell me he was planning on writing about it, but I can´t blame him at all. As you can imagine, as a member of the party for such a long time, I do not believe that ideas are owned by anyone or that they have any copyrights.