Written by Martin Sobota

China According to China

China According to China by Martin Sobota

china according to china (0300tv)

MovingCities.org has published the fith and last part of a wonderful documentary on China. Each part is about 6 minutes and covers different themes.
The documentary is a mix of very quiet, long shots of remarkable sites and thoughts of five local architects to the respective theme.

‘China According to China’ is initiated, developed and shot by Diego Grass Puga from 0300TV, a web channel for architectural broadcasting. It was completely filmed before 2008’s Beijing Olympics and edited right after its ending.

It isn’t an effort to portrait a certain scene [the profiles of each character are quite diverse] but to establish four issues that every Chinese architect has to deal with in today’s practice [opening-up, speed, agriculture & education] all of which may set the parameters of future development for Chinese architecture –and this is no prophecy: power has always proven to be Architecture’s most diligent ally.

Instead of branding/promoting individual genius, this is a story of how an [almost] obsolete discipline struggles to follow the pace of China –just like everyone else, everywhere.

“CHINA ACCORDING TO CHINA” presents a set of thoughts by five local architects on China’s current situation and history. Foreword by MovingCities.
Ai Wei Wei [FAKE design], Jiang Jun [Urban China], Yu Kongjian [Turenscape], Wang Shu [Amateur Architecture Studio] and Ma Qingyun [MADA s.p.a.m.] are in charge of defining the issues that every Chinese architect has to deal with in today’s practice, all of which may set the parameters of future development for Chinese architecture.


China According to China / Part 1: opening-up from 0300TV on Vimeo.

“What is exactly happening here?” [Bert de Muynck, movingcities.org] We might never know. We neither speak nor read mandarin; and above all: it seems that we’ve forgotten the existence of any kind of Chinese Architecture before the [overexposed] Bird’s Nest. So, we choose five local architects who were willing to share their experience from the inside.


China According to China / Part 2: speed from 0300TV on Vimeo.

Speed [in design and construction]: It isn’t only matter of opportunities and good reflexes: it’s also an issue of control and power. How does Chinese Architecture deals with this form of speed?


China According to China / Part 3: agriculture from 0300TV on Vimeo.

Agriculture: 30 years of fast-placed industrialization and urbanization cannot erase more than 9000 years of agri-culture. Is this destruction/construction cycle about erasing everything? Or is it just another manifestation of China’s agricultural intelligence?


China According to China / Part 4: education from 0300TV on Vimeo.

Education: This five architects we’ve chosen are all part of an extremely wide international network of influences, deeply rooted to the most relevant academic centres [Harvard, MIT] and close to the most renowned architects [Koolhaas, Herzog & De Meuron].
But what’s in it for the average Chinese architect? What about the thousands of students who’re not part of the 12 top Chinese architecture schools [Tsinghua, Tongji and South East to name a few] linked to the West? Are they pursuing individual genius or a mass of skilled workers?


China According to China / Part 5: architecture from 0300TV on Vimeo.

Architecture: 2008, China the discipline has started to shift from a quest for a certain local identity [mid 1990’s – early 2000’s] into acknowledging the social power of Architecture.
In the context of an over-accelerated market, 10.000.000 years of History and an outdated educational system, is there any formula of how to do things right? What can we expect from Chinese Architecture? Ai Weiwei [FAKE Design] has something to say about it. Featuring images of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre and Red Brick Art Galleries [Chaochangdi Village, Beijing].
The End.

Check out more of MovingCities.org here. It is a Beijing-based think-thank investigating the role that architecture and urbanism play in shaping the contemporary city. Established in 2007 by Bert de Muynck (BE) and Mónica Carriço (PT), living and working in Beijing since 2006, MovingCities publishes, collaborates, research, interacts, talks and walks, and operate as embedded architects.

  Comments ( 1 )

  1. Wow, thanks Martin… These are truly brilliant. I wish they were 2 or 3 times longer. It’s so much more intelligent hearing the Chinese talk about their culture and context. Nobody else within (Western) architecture has been able to discuss it with intimate knowledge and understanding so far.

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