modu : A Tale of Urban China

An Overview of the Chinese Representation at the World Architecture Forum 2018

Every year, the World Architecture Forum (WAF) gathers the architecture industry for keynote talks and an award ceremony, which honors the best architectural projects among hundreds of finalists. The 2018 edition will be held in Amsterdam from November 28th to 30th and has short-listed 535 projects from 57 countries, among which 53 are from mainland China.

The shortlisted projects are organized across 34 categories which include very diverse types of projects. Chinese finalists blend traditional culture and nature in audacious designs and functional buildings. We can thus highlight the Mulan Weichang Visitor Center designed by HDD and inspired by Inner Mongolian local architecture, shortlisted in the “civic and community” projects. In the same category, Oneart architects also used local building materials as an inspiration for the Macha Village Center in Gansu, built with rammed earth. The Village Lounge of Shangcun in Anhui was shortlisted in the “old and new” category, as it incorporates remaining sections of a courtyard house in a new village plaza. Paying tribute to ethnic minorities, West-line studio drew inspiration from the Shui people’s language, as the Shui Cultural Center in Guizhou in the “display” category shows.

Yet, some projects emulate global architectural trends in a futuristic way, such as the planned Skypod skyscraper by PLP Architecture in the “experimental” category, which reinvents the use of the elevator as a multi-directional carrier. Architecture also takes a more encompassing meaning in the “urban landscape” category and especially the Puyangjiang river corridor in Jinhua city, where the dirty river was ecologically recovered and its banks redesigned by Turenscape into a greenway.  

The WAF is also the occasion to celebrate architectural photography with a dedicated prize, the Architectural Photography Awards. Out of its 20 finalists, the 2018 edition features 5 photographs of Chinese architecture. Photographers capture the evolving essence of modernity in China with the photographs of the “Seashore Chapel” in Qinhuangdao by Ai Qing and “Swimmers on the riverside opposite the construction of Raffles City” in Chongqing, by Zhu Wenqiao (photo). They highlight the diversity of Chinese architecture with the “Long Museum West Bund” in Shanghai photographed by Pawel Paniczko and the “Bank of China Tower” in Ningbo shot by He Zhenuan. They remind us that architecture and the built environment reflect society with Shao Feng’s photograph of the “Hong-Kong-Zhuhai-Macao border crossing facility”.

Architectural photography documents the changes undergone by Chinese cities and their buildings, yet we must remember that these places are inhabited, living places. Last year, Terrence Zhang won the prize for his photography of a swimming pool in Tianjin University – without swimmers, left to the public to imagine them. Winners of the Architectural Photography Award will be announced with the winners of the World Architecture Forum at the end of November.

  • 2018/11/15

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  • China

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  • Gwenaëlle Brandelet

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