Shanghai >> Hangzhou

Shanghai - Hangzhou | April 12, 2012
Shanghai - Hangzhou | April 12, 2012

A weekly train trip from Shanghai 上海 to Hangzhou 杭州 reveals an interesting and specific form of rural regionalism: the Zhejiang Farmers’ Architectural Style. It takes advantage of rural density, countryside construction culture, prefab architectural farming and combines picturesque with princely architectural ambitions. A report written on the railway tracks.

If we would be asked to sum-up our past experiences in high-speed research during the forty minutes trip in-between Shanghai 上海 and Hangzhou 杭州, we would refer to these as a fantasy world of fumes, factories, coupled with the fear – speeding at 350 km/h – that it might never end (June, 2011) or that we live in a world, in a bullet train that mixes brains, buildings, blood, concrete, fire and comedy (March, 2011). This time around we’re advocating the future of farmers’ architecture, we’re broadcasting a dense, linear experience of an architecture that is just out there doing things: transforming little castles, waterways and highways.

Some of it is abandoned, or even ancient, and some, while speeding by, could be labeled as agrarian avant-garde.

Its gardens, glass houses and fields promise productivity.

Their scale is something of a mystery, so is its very specific architectural style. They are quite fat, plump, or lean and lost while aping each other. Reproduction by proxy?

Are these farmers’ fantasies a footnote in a yet to be written book about China’s urban state?

Shanghai - Hangzhou | April 12, 2012
Shanghai - Hangzhou | April 12, 2012

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1 thought on “Shanghai >> Hangzhou”

  1. I like the little towers, each one trying to dominate it’s surroundings but in those numbers they are stripped off all their iconic quality.
    Also the French / Classicist building in picture #5 is a real gem!

    On the way to Suzhou via Kunshan (mostly along the highway) is also lots of weird structures but actually some nice modern residential architecture with local feel. More than zou can see when going South as I remember.

    In genereal there are quite weird findings along the roads and rails though…

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