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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New developments in Kunming

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Kunming south development, January 2010

In January this year, we visited Kunming. The city has big plans to expand to the South. Big plans. Today, the SCMP writes:

Kunming, in southwestern China, is the capital city of Yunnan province. It is building six underground railway lines in a bid to improve accessibility. Lines 1, 2, and 6 are scheduled to be completed and operating by the end of 2012, followed by Line 3 in 2014, and Lines 4 and 5, which are due to open in 2018.

The crossing of these subway lines will be the opportunity to create a landmark, according to the vice-mayor He Bo:

One of the major projects at the intersection of three of the lines will include a 456-metre-high skyscraper – “the city’s future landmark in the core business district”, He said.

But there’s more. Kunming has a big and beautiful lake in the south east part of the city. The lake is now heavily polluted, but offers potential for great development. Into what? Right, en eco-city!

Apart from the skyscraper project, Kunming also hopes to invite investors to participate in a 25 billion yuan redevelopment of the 8.73 square kilometre Chao Hai district in the southwestern part of the city. The area will be developed into an “eco-city”, surrounded by a lake.

As for the development model, Kunming looks at the Hong Kong model, of creating real estate value with the development of public transport:

Mayor He, however, believed land value would have a greater upside potential when the metro system was completed. “The Kunming [property market] will present a big surprise to investors over the next three to five years,” he said.

Read the whole story here:

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De geschiedenis verdwijnt uit China’s steden, Bron: ANP – architectenweb.nl

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Two carpenters working on beam

An article from Michiel for the Dutch Press Office about preservation in Kunming. The article is in Dutch.

In het historische centrum van Kunming, de hoofdstad van de provincie Yunnan in Zuid-China, leggen bouwvakkers de laatste hand aan een fonkelnieuw ‘historisch’ pand. Een eindje verderop hebben zo’n dertig werklui een houten skelet omhoog getrokken. Aan de vorm en het houtsnijwerk met drakenkoppen valt te zien dat hier eveneens een nieuw gebouw moet verrijzen in Kunming’s traditionele bouwstijl.

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Exhibition in Kunming

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visitor exhibition Lao Wei

In Kunming, we visited the opening of painting and calligraphy exhibition of artist Lao Wei. The opening took place in the shopping centre close to the venue. After speeches, cutting ribbons and firecrackers, it was time to see the works. In a beautifully preserved courthouse the audience could enjoy the paintings and calligraphic work.

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A village turning into a metropolis

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The city of Kunming grew from 1 to 4 million people in about ten years. Therefore, the city is extended with a satellite in the south. The university moved there already, and the government building is ready for use. The satellite will be connected to the urban core with a light rail system, that is currently under construction, and finished in two years. There are also residantial areas under construction. We ran into a 200 year old village, surrounded by skyscrapers. Take a look:

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The 200 year old village with the constructions surrounding it

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Heritage in Spring City

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Kunming Skyline

Today, we started our research about architectural heritage in the city of Kunming: Spring City. This 4 million inhabitant capital of Yunnan province is a place where there is a lot of different interesting examples of the way Chinese cities deal with their history. We’ll keep you posted about our results. This was our first impression: a big city under a blue sky. Since the average temperature year round is 15 degrees, it is always…indeed: spring!

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