Shenzhen Architecture Biennale | Exhibition

Atelier Deshaus | Shenzhen Architecture Biennale 2011

The theme of the 2011 Shenzhen-Hongkong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture is “architecture creates cities. cities create architecture”. Around this quasi-elusive statement, an arbitrary exhibition – curated by Terence Riley – was created. There were some good ideas and installations [our selection below], but all in all it felt vague. Loose. Uncoordinated. [Ticking the boxes but not building up an argument, not stimulating the mind. Oftentimes it felt someone has printed out books or portfolios, glued them to the wall and expected visitors to stick around for a couple of days]. The show is on till February 18, 2012.

Some will probably argue there was a lot to see [the boom on designboom], a lot happening and, many interesting ideas launched. A quick look at the curatorial statement might enlighten us; an extract:

Architecture creates cities.
Cities create architecture.

These simple, axiomatic statements can be made specific without losing their meaning: The Louvre creates Paris. Paris creates the Louvre. However, it is not only monumental architecture that creates cities. In the same way, the brownstone creates Manhattan and the machiya creates Kyoto, and vice versa. The theme represents a relationship between cities and architecture that can be seen as global, especially in terms of contemporary culture.

Btw. it is the Eiffel tower that creates Paris, or the people living in the banlieux? Or the business transactions in La Défense? Or Yona Friedman… Cities are moving. Cities are not something you glue to the wall. Text is no territory. With more than the half of the world in crisis, being urbanized or developing, one might expect a more critical attitude, if not revolutionary stance towards the role that architecture and urbanism play in shaping the contemporary city. To conclude our ordeal about this [by-city ?] biennale:

Biennales creates cities.
Cities create biennales.

If so, then Shenzhen 深圳 deserves better.

On the positive side, we noticed the following projects & exhibitions, for one reason or another:

The Favela Painting project by Haas & HahnNewly Drawn [curated by our friend/collaborator Martta Louekari, Finland], Finland: The Welfare Game (Solution 239-246)  [Martti Kalliala with Jenna Sutela and Tuomas Toivonen]; Gimme Shelter! [Cristóbal Molina Baeza, Commissioner; Sebastián Irarrázaval, Hugo Mondragón – watch the video or footage by Cristobal Palma]; The ‘Social Theatre’ Housing and Tree Towers Housing by standardarchitecture; and The Street [curated by Terence Riley, US] featuring interesting work by Atelier Deshaus [Shanghai, China], J. Mayer H. [Berlin, Germany] with FACADE OF COUNTENANCE, JohnstonMarkLee [Los Angeles, CA], Mass Studies [Seoul, Korea] and SO-IL [New York, US] with Tricolonnade.

Gimme Shelter! | SZHK Biennale 2011

Newly Drawn | SZHK Biennale 2011

organized randomness | SZHK Biennale 2011

standardarchitecture | SZHK Biennale 2011

The Street | SZHK Biennale 2011

Favela Painting | SZHK Biennale 2011

SZHK Biennale 2011

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