We spend our first day in Guangzhou meandering in-between the gigantic Guangzhou University Town campus and the remnants of an adjacent urban village. Under construction, the island will accommodate 10 top universities and 250,000 students, while, under destruction, folk, improvised and narrow-lane architectures are disappearing. Jiang Jun and Gabrielle Marks /GAFA walked us around.
Taking the Line 1 subway from Shamian Island, we changed to line 2 and 4, in order to arrive at University Island, where Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts is located.
Consultancy work for the masterplan for 10,000-acre island has been done by Ayers/Saint/Cross (US) and Steffian Bradley Associates (UK). With an astonishing 90 years of continuous practice, Ayers/Saint/Cross is, according to their website, currently working on 40 campuses. From their Guangzhou University City plan description (or download pdf-version):
Guangzhou University’s campus will accommodate 20,000 students and 5,000 faculty members and staff. In China, it is customary to provide housing for all students and the majority of the faculty and staff. (…) When complete, the city will house seven university clusters with multiple institutions sharing common facilities. The total build-out will involve more than 100 million square feet, including educational, commercial, cultural, residential, and retail facilities, to accommodate a total of 250,000 students. (…) In the center of the island is the Eco-Park for sports and culture, including a stadium for 35,000 people, hotel/conference center, library, recreation center, and large lakes and gardens.
After roaming the art campus in the expert hands of Jiang Jun (editor-in-chief of Urban China Magazine) and Gabrielle Marks (graphical designer, currently teaching at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts/GAFA and fellow Line13Looper), we got offtrack, strolled through a nearby urban village co-inhabited by students and farmers. A little further, on the bank of the Pearl River, temporary and historical constructions are crumbling and a battle for territories, licenses, legality/illegality and compensation is happening. This becomes visible through a mix of deteriorating local architectures and instant resistance camps.
Oh irony of architectural development! On the southeast of Guangzhou University Town a newly built village has been build, based on a typical ancient southern-Chinese village, advertised as the “folk and naturalistic Village of Guangzhou University Town”.
Pictures by movingcities.org