2015UABB Chengdu Press Conference

(Chengdu, October 16th, 2015)The promotion conference for the 6th Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (“UABB”) that will kick-off on December 4th, 2015, was held at 7:00 PM today at Fangsuo bookstore in Chengdu. UABB is the only exhibition themed on urbanism/ architecture and has a history spanning 5 sessions spread across 10 years. 2015 UABB’s theme is “Re-living the City”. The main venue planned by four internationally famous architects, critics and educators, Aaron Betsky, Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner and Doreen Heng Liu, will display works by 75 exhibitors from 6 continents. The sub-venue with the theme “House of Sharing” is curated by artist Yang Yong and his team, and the “See You Around” Team will present a special photography and video exhibition in the sub-venue. Wang Yuejun, Director of Shenzhen Cultural Reform Office, and Zhou Hongmei, Deputy Director of Urban and Architectural Design Office, Urban Planning Commission of Shenzhen Municipality, shared their views on the exhibition. Doreen Heng Liu, one of the curators of the 2015 UABB, spoke about the exhibition’s progress and listed out the main venue’s exhibit details for the first time. Local artist and exhibitor representative Wang Haichuan and artist team Chen Jianjun & Cao Minghao also attended the event to introduce their works, which will debut at the sub-venue.


Main venue: 75 exhibits from 5 continents will come together in Shenzhen

Doreen Heng Liu said that the 2015 UABB will be a platform to discuss how to re-imagine, re-use and re-construct existing urban space and buildings, and aims to show how designers can cooperate wholeheartedly with the public to develop the city in a more practical, impartial and sustainable way. At the main venue located at the original Dacheng Flour Factory in Shekou, Shenzhen, the industrial site’s original look is retained and restored according to reconstruction concepts, and special visitor flow lines are setup to enable visitors to get a first-hand experience of industrial prosperity. 

 The main venue consists of five sections, Collage City 3D, Maker Maker, Pearl River Delta 2.0, Radical Urbanism and Social City, where exhibitors from around the world will discuss how to re-model existing space and buildings, and create a more comfortable and effective urban environment. The 2015 UABB School will carry out a “Special School – Urbanism Relearning” activity curated by Jason Hilgefort and Merve Bedir. This activity is not only a UABB educational workshop, but is a hybrid fusion that combines learning, exhibition and social activities, and encourages public participation. (Each exhibition section’s details are attached below)

In conclusion, Liu said, “We may lose nature and our emotions in the pursuit of materialism, but we hope we can regain them in future, because they are the motive spirit behind a city’s development. Though the future may not be crystal clear and real, we should consider and pursue this kind of balanced development, irrespective of whether you are architects, urban builders or even common citizens.”


Sub-venue: Rejuvenate traditional houses with modern art

The sub-venue is a Guangdong-style enclosed round house -- “Native Xipu Residence”, which follows a “House of Sharing” theme. The sub-venue, curated by Yang Yong and his team, aims to rejuvenate traditional folk buildings located in Longgang town center, in Shenzhen. The exhibition program combines home improvement, contemporary arts and design works display, container “Future Fair”, flower decoration workshop, live cookery workshop, multimedia musical installations and other activities. The See You Tomorrow Team that includes painter Teng Fei, designer Huang Yang and photographer Liang Rong will shoot a micro-film series titled, “There is Nothing I Can’t Tell You”.

 Wang Haichuan and the Chen Jianjun & Cao Minghao Team that are participating in the sub-exhibition, disclosed their exhibits at the promotion conference, and shared their exhibition ideas. Chen Jianjun & Cao Minghao Team’s work “The Aunt’s Map” series are produced by the team and Aunty Gong, who once lived in Shuijingfang Community. The work integrates personal life history, experiences, views and dreams in the map to reflect life in 1950s to 1970s, and emotionally responds to the theme “Re-living the City”. Wang Haichuan’s work “Tongyuanju Art Education Project ” researched the disillusion of Chongqing Tongyuanju’s (Copper Coin Bureau) collective Utopianism, a typical example of China’s urbanization process in interdisciplinary and multidimensional art forms. 

                                                                           Artist  CHEN Jianjun

                                                                 Artist WANG Hanchuan

 Wang Yuejun introduced Shenzhen’s cultural development’s current situation and summarized the following features of Shenzhen culture:

1. Cultural mobility is a symbol of city’s vitality.

2. Citizens are the main force for cultural development.

3. Cultural industry development is a natural process.

4. Shenzhen has 4 state-level culture brands and 5 unique development models.

 Zhou Hongmei introduced UABB’s history and summarized a few key words about UABB and the city: Record, connect, rejuvenate, cross-border, citizen, and value.

 Guests discussed UABB’s future development at the panel discussion, and Wang Yuejun analyzed the meaning of “Re-living the City” from geographical, philosophical and anthropological perspectives.

 As the only exhibition themed on urbanism and urbanization in the world, UABB has grown stronger and has become one of the most influential urban building communication platforms, gaining extensive recognition from international construction industry, over the past 10 years. This is the first time UABB has held a promotion conference in Chengdu with the aim to involve Chengdu in this cultural activity, and increase awareness among more people about their city’s development and future. 


2015UABB announces highlight exhibits 


 College City 3D

“Collage City 3D” will present a new perspective of a city by bringing together the left-overs, the images, the forms, and the life usually buried in the buildings and streets. It will be a collective, site-specific collage that will showcase, intensify, and represent the reality of the Pearl River Delta. A dozen architects, artists, and designers will build a maze-like structure with materials, forms, and images that are found in Shenzhen and the surrounding area over the course of three to six weeks. Each participant will have an area of up to 10 cubic meters as their working area on the ground floor of the main exhibition space at the site of 2015 UABB, and they will all work collaboratively to create a finished structure that will invent possible uses. The collage makers will find collaborators who might perform, cook, live, or otherwise bring the structure to life. The collage will be repurposed after 2015 UABB.

 Highlight exhibits of “Collage City 3D” include Power to the People by The Heidelberg Project, a Detroit-based community organization designed to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art. Power to the People will explore the idea of empowering citizens to think creatively about what is possible for themselves and consequently their immediate environment. The Heidelberg Project will create a frame of a house constructed out of repurposed or recycled wood, the exterior of which will be transformed using various materials from Detroit and Shenzhen. The creative process of Power to the People will unfold in an organic way and be open to incorporate the unexpected and the culture of Shenzhen.


 Shenzhen Entropy by Rob Voerman will consist of two pavilions connected by an improvised open place. One of the pavilions will have a dark interior with colored windows that filter the light and sound coming in from the outside, creating a melancholic atmosphere that recalls the memories of migrant workers in Shenzhen. The other pavilion will consist of a workspace, with the walls partially cut and the interior extended into a parasitic architecture. Shenzhen Entropy explores how the slowly evolving countryside and villages left behind by migrant workers can influence city planning, as well as the boundaries between private and public, work and life, formal and informal. Migrant workers in Shenzhen will be involved in the project through workshops, performances and presentations.


Maker Maker

Curated by Drura Parrish of Parrish Holdings and MakeTime, “Maker Maker” aims to bring the best experiments in making that combine together digital and hand-crafting. The “makers” in “Maker Maker” will prioritize the object and build economies around it through human labor and the newest digital equipment in Shenzhen. “Maker Maker” examines the power and drive of the individual to innovate and create opportunities. Throughout the term of the exhibition, some makers will be on site producing their goods and providing workshops.   

Highlight makers include Eskayel, Phil Ross, and Brandon Kruysman & Jonathan Proto. Eskayel, a New York based surface design studio that creates eco-friendly furnishings and accessories founded by Shanan Campanaro, will present SURFACE II SURFACE at 2015 UABB. Three fabrics that combine modern and ancient technologies, exploring techniques in hand painting, digital printing, and hand weaving will be shown at the “Maker Maker” pavilion. These include: museum-quality textiles using natural dyes and non-traditional motifs handcrafted by traditional weavers in the remote islands of Sumba, Indonesia; sari silk rugs with 100% recycled fibers hand-knotted in India; and hand woven sisal grasscloth wall coverings made of sustainable and renewable fibers.

 American artist and scholar Phil Ross has been studying the Lingzhi mushroom as his subject for more than 20 years. He has used the living fungus to grow artworks for museums and exhibitions, and eventually he learned to manipulate the tissue of the fungus for practical applications. For 2015 UABB Phil Ross will present many artifacts from his research on Lingzhi. In this exhibition titled Bringing Fungus to China, the artist will be showing the many different ways that fungus can be used as a resource for the future. While aesthetically beautiful and a natural source of complex polymers, this fungus provides a view of Chinese culture.

 Brandon Kruysman & Jonathan Proto will examine how the convergence of new materials, advanced methods of making, and novel simulation tools have enabled designers to explore “motion” as a key feature of interaction with users. Brandon Kruysman & Jonathan Proto will develop dynamic furniture scale objects that will roll and tumble, exploring reconfigurable environments and spaces. 2015 UABB visitors will be encouraged to interact with the objects.


Pearl River Delta 2.0: Balance is More

“Pearl River Delta 2.0: Balance is More” is about the future of the PRD. Known as the “world factory” and a pilot region for China’s rapid urbanization over the past three decades, the PRD is now reaching its ceiling of development. The development of the PRD is out of balance: the region’s social and ecological environments cannot catch up with its robust economic growth. PRD 2.0 will invite both research and design proposals to explore alternative futures for the PRD. Ten architects in collaboration with researchers or institutions will design utopian or alternate scenarios for the PRD based on their research. The materials will be presented in drawings, models, fragments, videos, and other visuals.

Shenzhen-based architecture office Urbanus will present Hyper Metropolis – Speculations on Future Hybrid Lifestyle. Through an animation of a revised urban system with an updated density distribution and new urban infrastructure, as well as a 1:50 scaled model illustrating a hybrid lifestyle in the hyper metropolis in the future PRD 2.0 era, Urbanus will explore the potential new lifestyles and new urban environments of Shenzhen’s young entrepreneurs.

 WISE Architecture from Korea will bring The City that Re-Lives its Memories to 2015 UABB. The installation will be in the form of the factory building in which the biennale will take place. Composed of several levels of slabs with columns in between, the structure will be filled with ordinary objects from the city: brick walls, metal frames, billboards, used furniture, tiles, dishes, old books, some plants, bikes, etc. The factory building will change according to the installation: the venue will be re-populated by people who bring in with them reusable things that will be used to set up instant walls, creating an example of an instant and regenerative urbanism that revives the city’s memories.

 Beijing-based MAD Architects will present The Future Forest City on the Sea: Shenzhen Qianhai Zone, envisioning a new artificial environment that will be an “Eden” to hold up people’s dream for the city future. Through research, MAD Architects will examine further how Shenzhen should deal with its own urban development problems. 


Social City

In Social City citizens take the lead, and experts in architecture and city planning are invited to reflect on the shared desired elements which constitute Social City. It challenges top down city planning, bottom-up utopias, smart city naivety, superficial urban solutions, traditional lifestyle categorizing, and big data misuse. Social City consists of an installation in the UABB exhibition and an online platform (www.socialcities,org). The installation will give insight in the city life of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Its diversity will be caught in information which is derived from the repository of various personal activities, intentions and affections, which users have been putting on the internet. These soft data will be extracted and visualized in digital maps with the OSCity web-tool developed by Mark van der Net. Complementary to the digital data are the drawings which artist Jan Rothuizen is making of real life in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The digital and real mapping will be linked to in-depth conversations with individual citizens about their dreams, desires and needs by students of Design Academy Eindhoven and PolyU Hong Kong. All this information together will be the start from which innovative solutions for local problems will be designed, and new opportunities in the two cities will be explored. Visitors of the exhibition can directly react to the proposal. The online platform will be worldwide for both citizens, as well as for professionals in architecture, urban planning, and other disciplines. Citizens are invited to share their dreams, desires, and needs via a quiz. The results of the kick off quiz will shape the virtual city. The more people participate, the more Social City will grow. The next quizzes will focus on a variety of topics such as local economy, public space, mobility, governance, and community building. The platform is a unique online combination of shared dreams and desires of citizens, hard data and discourse by professionals. The beta version of the platform was launched at the Beijing Design Week in September 2015. The final version will be presented in the installation at UABB.



Radical Urbanism

Radical Urbanism looks for, gathers, and exhibits existing informal alternative city cases and test prototypes from across the world. This project generates radical architecture through research and design.

In this section, Anna Heringer and Martin Rauch will present Urban Earthworks, revealing the potentials of Earthen, a traditional and local, and therefore sustainable, method of construction that has rarely been given serious consideration for urban contexts in contemporary research. The project will showcase both current state-of-the-art practices in creating prefabricated rammed-earth elements on a 1:1 scale as well as statistical representations and illustrations envisioning the future of earthen works on the urban scale. The full-scale, rammed-earth mock-up will show a minimalistic living room imagined for an urban context, anticipating how this aesthetically pleasing, technologically advanced, climatically relevant, and common-sense material could engender a radical re-imagining of contemporary cities.


Aformal Academy – RE:Learning the City 

In addition to the indoor exhibition, 2015 UABB will also feature outdoor installations, national pavilions, collateral exhibitions, as well as UABB School which is an important education platform. UABB School will offer a range of courses and activities to the public during the exhibition period and preparatory period. As a part of UABB school, Aformal Academy – RE:Learning the City is a spatial and co-creational knowledge exchange, where professors, foreign and local students, lecturers, local craftsmen, in-town guests, local researchers, exhibitors, and citizens crash together in a free flowing information exchange, creating a process of multi-layered learning across disciplines for all. “Aformal Academy – RE:Learning the City” will start by questioning everything, and REthink the object as the core manner of perceiving architecture and urbanism. It seeks frameworks that enhance the REinterpretation of buildings, the REmaking of our cities, and the REimagination of our daily lives. By operating within an adapting building, on a transforming city, and a mongst an ongoing biennale, “Aformal Academy – RE:Learning the City” will not only be a series of educational workshops parallel to the biennale, but also a hybrid of learning by making, exhibition, and social space, engaging the public at large with the evolving library of provocations and the spatial archive of explorations. “Aformal Academy – RE:Learning the City” is curated by Jason Hilgefort and Merve Bedir, both partners of Rotterdam / Istanbul based Land+Civilization Compositions, in collaboration with Ljubo Georgiev and Hristo Stankushev. 



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