In the center of Yinzhou New Town (Ningbo’s District) 宁波市鄞州区 a 25.7 hectares park is situated and in it five scattered houses are located around a lake. In the vicinity one also finds a government building and the Ningbo Historic Museum. The last one, as well the five structures, were designed by Amateur Architecture Studio. It is here that we interviewed in 2008 its principal Wang Shu – Local Hero [Mark Magazine#19] – and recently returned to. After the skyline, a couple of scattered snapshots.
Ningbo is a new Chinese city with standard urban planning, featuring wide roads, big squares and low building density. This is a bad urban model, because it doesn’t take into account China’s vast population. I work in the city because I want to improve its structure. But here I can’t do anything; the place is so empty.
Evidently, and a couple of years later [see Yinzhou New Town Skyline], the place isn’t that empty anymore. At the other hand, and unfortunately, the five scattered houses, all commissioned in 2004, are today rather empty and close to dilapidation. Seeing this, we feel a need to write the sad and tragic story of contemporary architecture in China. This would be not the story of post-occupancy, but one about high-speed decomposition. Upon close inspection, the reasons for these structures to turn almost immediately into shackles are evident; combination of shoddy and hasty construction methods with a lack of budget and focus on detailed execution.
According to the architect, the five scattered houses were built with the following four objectives:
1. Design a place where natural elements and people can coexist in the local environment.
2. Use local, original, and ubiquitous material and technology to control cost.
3. Display quality in design rather than expensive material.
4. Local but academic, to set example for future development of the Yinzhou.
Below a couple of snapshots of the scattered structures. In order of appearance: ‘Gallery – one wave and three twists’, ‘Teahouse 1 – broken shadow’, ‘Teahouse 2 – single sand random garden’, ‘Administrative Building’ and ‘Café – lotus leaf in wind’.
Pictures by movingcities.org
address Ningbo Historic Museum:
No.1000 Shounan Mid Road, Yinzhou District, Ningbo , China
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