Adam N. Mayer: An Architect’s Guide to Working in China

Background, Chengdu

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Last June we met the American architect Adam Mayer in the city of Chengdu. Adam was educated at USC LA and worked for two years as an architect in Chengdu. Apart from producing architecture in the fastest urbanizing region in the world, Adam also writes on his blog China Urban Development. He reflects in an interesting and profound way on the current spatial developments in China. The piece below is his most recent writing, and we’re very happy to be publishing it as well. Hopefully many more to come..

A few months ago I read a piece from Bloomberg discussing Frank Gehry’s decision to ‘turn to Asia for architecture projects as U.S. growth slows.’ In terms of big name architects from the U.S. and Europe turning to Asia for work, Gehry is late to the party. Nevertheless, it is a very telling sign that Gehry, someone who in the past could be highly selective of his clients, is looking to Asia to keep his office busy.

In the Bloomberg article, Gehry is candid about his desire to work domestically in the U.S. yet lacking the opportunity due to the depressed economic situation. As if another reminder is needed about the sorry state of the industry, Salon published a piece about the dire outlook for the profession last month titled ‘The Architecture Meltdown‘.

So aside from returning to graduate school, designing furniture or leaving the profession completely, most architects in the U.S. and other Western nations have limited options, therefore turning to emerging markets where there is work happening. China is by far the largest of these emerging markets for new buildings.

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Special Artistic Zone

Chengdu

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During the Chengdu Biennale, the Go West Project will present the ‘Special Artistic Zone’, a one-night event investigating the conditions for a cultural life in emerging megacities. Go West brings together key persons from the cultural field of the megacity Chengdu, by organizing an outdoor tea session on 2 October. Specialists from eight different disciplines will discuss subjects related to cultural life, in a relaxed and private atmosphere.

The main question on eight different tables: What conditions do emerging cities need, to develop a flourishing and profound cultural life?

By documenting how the evening and its discussions progress, Go West will grasp new insights and perspectives about cultural life in the contemporary city. Governments, real estate developers and architects can use the answers of this experiment, when striving to turn their city into a cultural hotspot – the ambition of so many cities in China, and the world for that matter.

And after all, the best ideas are exchanged over tea…

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Chengdu Biennale trip

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Christoph Kapeller (USC), Paul Tang, Liu Yuyang (Biennale), Vivian Song (Go West) visit Dongcun village

This fall, Go West will participate in the Chengdu Biennale, as part of the research program of this years Biennale. Our contribution will investigate cultural life in Chinese cities, both in an exhibition, and in an event. Last week we made a trip to Chengdu as part of the preparation; we visited potential venues, talked with people in the cultural field and participated in a two day conference with field trips, organized by the Biennale.

Daan and Vivian lecture at Chengdu Architecture department

Dinner with curator Xu Sheng (Re-C Gallery), Zou Peng and Zhou Weijia (Chengdu Gongbo Culture Communication Group)

 

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Art districts and River Crab

Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming, Project, Xi'an

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picture Corneliu Cazacu

A lot of the cities we visit have a so called ‘art district’. These places basically consist of abandoned factories where artists have created their studio’s. Chinese cities are stimulating these kind of places as an attempt to create ‘creative cities’, cities where the arts flourish and contribute to the GDP.
Typically is that the attitude from the Chinese government towards art has changed overtime from ignorant in the early ’80’s to supportive since around 2005. The reason for this change is as predictable as simple: money. Chinese artists and the products they make have gained worldwide attention, not in the least in auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s where Chinese art prices go through the roof since the start of the new millennium. And they’re still going strong.

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Chengdu Subway: Day One Photos | Chengdu Living

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The Chengdu Subway just opened last week. Website ChengduLiving.com has some first impressions: Chengdu Subway: Day One Photos | Chengdu Living.

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Eeuw van de Stad (6): Punk in Chendu

Chengdu

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This week in Eeuw van de Stad an impression of one of the cultural components of a Worldcity: the Rock bar.  We saw this nice punkband in Little Bar in Chengdu, one of the oldest rock venues in China.

via Punk in Chengdu Go West Project on Vimeo.

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Eeuw van de Stad: Interview Liu Jiakun

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Liu JiakunIn May this year, we did an interview with the architect Liu Jiakun from Chengdu. Mr. Liu has a clear and critical opinion on the urban developments in China. In the interview he gives an analysis of what is happening in his country: more cities starting to look alike, with a strive for the same identity. You can read the interview at: Eeuw van de Stad. (only in Dutch)

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The hanging gardens of Chengdu

Chengdu, Newsletter

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Our new post on ‘Eeuw van de Stad’ is also interesting for non-Dutch speakers, since it is mainly photo’s. Enjoy the hanging gardens of Chengdu!

De Eeuw van de Stad » Go West Project 2: De hangende tuinen van Chengdu.

Hanging gardens of Chengdu

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