2012 was a good year for MovingCities. With 2013 barely started, we composed a non-lineair overview of the past year. The selection is based on content, correspondences and aspects of continuity across various projects, publications and places. While our Portuguese posts on Peter Zumthor and Álvaro Siza Vieira keep on generating traffic, with 2012 Pritzker Prize winner Wang Shu we found a close runner-up. But we’re also pleased that our, incognito, Koolhaas-Simpsons scoop made it to the sixths place on Archinect’s Top 12 News Posts of 2012. MovingCities in 2012 was about cities, architecture and the creative industries in China. A selected flashback.
MovingCities 2012 overview
Mappings on Design and Fashion in China
In 2012 we finally completed and published the Mappings on Design and Fashion in China [commissioned by Dutch Design Fashion Architecture], theses mappings highlight the people and processes that will influence future design agendas in China and throughout the world. Both reports was presented during the DutchDFA China Update in Amsterdam in July at the Amsterdam Kamer van Koophandel and in November at the Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai 上海 during the FA-SH-ART!-event. Download the reports the full Design in China Mapping-report [106 pages, 3.3 Mb] and the full Fashion in China Mapping-report [72 pages, 2.3 Mb].
The first publication of the year dealt with the theme of City x People x Design 城市•人•设计 for the Guangzhou 广州-based magazine Design 360°. The article is set up as a dialogue with Zhang Ke 张轲 [standardarchitecture 标准营造] and centered around the analysis of a couple of encounters, discussions and meetings we were both part of during the past years in China.
Our next publication investigated the ‘Shanghai Satellite Towns‘ and was published in Bauwelt [7.2012]. We concluded that ‘visiting these areas wasn’t a fun experience but a rather depressing journey to the end of urbanism, to a far-fetched future, a suburban scam.‘ We also contributed to the Shanghai | Nø City Guide.
In MARK Magazine we published Preservation Playground an interview with the Chinese businessman Wang Wei, a Shanghainese collector of houses: ‘It is probably just something personal,’ Wang Wei told, ‘as my ancestral home is in Anhui Province, the place where my grandfather and greatgrandfather lived before they moved to Shanghai. I do this preservation work because in recent years lots of houses have disappeared owing to financial and political turmoil – and to the pressure of rapid urbanization. During this process, we were able to buy some of the houses.’
We also found out that Jerry Ku and Julian Wang from E-Grow International Trading Co – read E-GROW | Master of Moulds – ‘do not like parametrically designed buildings. But this is the future.‘
In February we congratulated Wang Shu 王澍 & Lu Wenyu 陆文宇 [amateur architecture studio 业余建筑工作室] for receiving the 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize and published an exclusive interview in Ípsilon [a weekly cultural supplement of the Portuguese daily newspaper Público] with them. “These days a lot of people ask me if my life will change,” Wang Shu told us, “one thing I am clear about is that there is no reason to change – no need for that, I will still keep my way. So my way is that I do not want to change.”
In Portal9, we published together with Danish anthropologist Michael Ulfstjerne an essay on the construction and car culture in Ordos entitled Ordos: A Chinese City Constructed in the Fast Lane.
Projects & Workshops
MovingCities, together with Newly Drawn [画卷初成] and World Architecture Magazine [WA]《世界建筑》杂志 organizes a three-day ‘School+ WORKSHOP‘ & symposium from March 23rd to 25th. Hosted by the School of Architecture – Tsinghua University [清华大学建筑学院] , in Beijing 北京, the workshop is part of the 2012 EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
In August we participated in the Making Creative City | URBANUS Workshop in Shenzhen 深圳, in November we organized in the a panel – as part of EARS ON SHANGHAI [Europe-Asia Roundtable Sessions] – on the architectural design of theatre spaces in China called ‘EARS on Venue Architecture & Design‘.
Along with German architect-photographer Arnd Dewald, we went on a Sunday afternoon walk in the disappearing area around the Xiaonanmen Station 小南门站 and for an evening walk around the Hanzhong subway station area 汉中路站 [Line 1] in Shanghai 上海. During these walks we introduced the notion of of the Potemkin Paradox: the contradictory state of the rapidly changing city that leaves its front facades intact so to obscure the destruction that is taking place behind it. We wrote that these walks are about discovering the tension between background and foreground, about a weird coexistence, of fluidity in the building process, of washing away, cleaning up and constructing.
In Hangzhou 杭州 we strolled through Hutouchen Village 湖头陈村. In Shanghai 上海 we shot the skyline from our living room and did an attempt to compose some architectural poetry: Shanghai skyline, we salute you! Sometimes we hardly see you, hidden in the morning fog, absent in the afternoon, disguised in clouds and mutating in the morning light. In Beijing 北京 we strolled through the Baja urban village [located Northeast of Tsinghua University], in Hong Kong 香港 we discovered a City of Corridors.
In Shenzhen 深圳 we visited the OCT Bay 深圳欢乐海岸 [or OCT Harbour] and saw a pebble & masterplan. We also scanned two recently completed projects by URBANUS Architecture & Design 都市实践: the Maillen Hotel and Apartments 美伦酒店＆公寓 and the Nanshan Wedding Center 南山婚礼堂.
In March, MovingCities was invited by Belgian artist-duo Katleen Vermeir & Ronny Heiremans [website] to lecture as part of their The Residence [a wager for the afterlife] video project. ‘The Creative City in China‘-lecture took place at ExtraCity, Antwerp.
In October we presented during TEDxShanghai | TEDxTheBund City2.0 and in november we talked about the The Market & The Territory as part of the Informal Market Worlds research form, in December we lectured on “Shanghai as a Megacity” for the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design.
2012 was a good year for book reviews. At the beginning of the year we received received two books from a+t architecture publishers: This is Hybrid and Density is Home. In our review we wrote that ‘Steven Holl might be true and correct in this assessment, and the buildings he constructed in those Chinese cities in the past years a prove of that, but the almost three decades between the North-American pamphlet and the Chinese implementation saw the dawn of various new type of urban activities, communication, mobility and social developments.‘
We highly recommended ‘Colonial Modern: Aesthetics of the Past, Rebellions for the Future’ by black dog publishing, we read and reviewed “Roberto Burle Marx – The Modernity of Landscape” by ACTAR 2011.
We discovered the emergence of large-scale urban constructs in the Asian region by reading ‘Emergent Architectural Territories in East Asian Cities‘ [Birkhäuser, 2011] by prof. Peter G. Rowe [Harvard University]. We sat down with Dutch architect John van de Water and interviewed him about his book “You can’t change China, China changes you” [010 publisher, 2012]. We also received and read ‘Pressures and Distortions‘, published by The Research Program of Rafael Viñoly Architects and concluded that this is ‘a multifaceted publication presenting decent results. It is although advised to consume it in small doses, to draw your own diagrams and conclusions.‘
Both in April and December we reported on the Final Review at HKU Shanghai Study Center, and in May on the Final Review at the CAA Hangzhou School of Architecture. In the fall of 2012, Bert de Muynck [MovingCities co-director, assistant professor at the HKU Shanghai Study Centre] organized the Shanghai State of Affairs debate program including presentations by KOKAIstudios on ‘Redesigning Shanghai Heritage’ and Gensler & BENOY on ‘The Future of Pudong’.
In the Spring and Fall of 2012, there were a series of 6 lectures at the China Academy of Art 中国美术学院建筑艺术学院 in Hangzhou 杭州. In Spring the lectures were centered around the notion of ‘reframing regionalism’ [intro and follow-up], in Fall the topic was ‘Urban Social Criticism’.
In the first half of August MovingCities was in Indonesia on invitation by Andra Matin to attended the opening of ‘Andra Matin: Sebuah Sekuel‘. Along the way we also visited Eko Prawoto in Yogyakarta and saw the Nasirun private gallery. In Bogor we met up with mamo [Adi Purnomo], visited the David and Gita House  and interviewed him there.