Over the past 30 years, Chinese cities provided an unprecedented opportunity — to design, to experiment, and to innovate. The lure of the biggest and most unusual design commissions offered by the Chinese government as well as private developers fostered an influx of foreign designers. A convergence of Chinese and foreign practices in which progress and “international achievement” were confused, and iconic images of governmental, corporate or architectural identity subsumed urban identities. The result has been a cacophony of competing markers and a loss of urban identity and legibility within and among Chinese cities. This narrative is not unique to China, and the dearth of strategies for rapid development is the next challenge for all designers.
As the deputy chief editor of Landscape Architecture Frontiers, Dihua Li explained the background of this issue’s theme, Foreign Designers Venture into China, and other issues facing design education and industry development in China. Remarks were also made about the role that foreign designers and firms play in the development of China’s design market.
In this interview, Ole Bouman, creative director of the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture, speaks about changes in the attraction of foreign designers to work in China, and what potential new architectures might come out of these changes.
Based on the authors’ many years of research and practice in China, this article analyzed the “urban village” in Caochangdi, Beijing, evaluated the rapid urbanization process in China, and indicated that more and more Chinese architects and landscape architects have gained great international influence and reputation, and the future design field will usher in a new “China Time”.
In this paper, “they” refers to all foreign designers who have practiced in China. “They” has never changed, but in the increasingly globalized world, “we” has become something unrecognizable. The moment “they” emerged as a concept in Chinese design culture, was the exact moment “we” needed a definition for “we”. Historically, western architects who have had significant impacts on Chinese architecture are little known in their home countries. At the same time, “we” are so afraid of losing ourselves that we have been made afraid of our own shadows. With the influx of foreign designers, we have trapped ourselves in a dilemma of identity. There is no problem with learning from the West, but the problem is that China has become soaked in pragmatism and opportunism. Looking back at western architects’ gains and losses in Chinese architecture over the 20th Century, such worries stem from lessons and experiences that could have been learned long ago.
In the process of rapid urbanization, China has become an inevitable target for aspiring foreign designers because of the numerous amount, large scale, and fast pace of urban construction projects. The interviewee, his dual role as an educator and a practitioner, reviews foreign designers’ engagement in China, and points out that Chinese clients have been more and more rational to inviting foreign designers, and the strength of Chinese designers has growingly enhanced.
Landscape architecture in China is a rapidly growing industry, and despite positive economic growth is currently facing challenges and growing pains. In comparison, landscape architecture is a well-established profession in Australia, and therefore provides a good model for professional development in China. This paper analyzes differences in Chinese and Australian landscape design styles, philosophies and practices, to enhance the level in landscape design, vocational education, professional spirit, and industry association in order to create a better industry development environment and patterns.
Landscape Architecture Frontiers magazine conducted an online survey in August 2013 to investigate the nature of foreign designers' career in China. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all those who participated and contributed to this survey!
AECOM is a global consulting group which provides professional technical and management services. The services provided by Planning+ Design | Economics include urban design, master planning, landscape design, environmental planning, economic planning, strategic planning, leisure and cultural planning. In this interview, Paul Vincent Blazek, the landscape director, introduced the landscape design practices of AECOM in China; summarized the key factors to success in China market; analyzed the characteristics of design market in China; and provided insights to the development prospect of China design industry.
As an environmental landscape planning and design firm that has a history over 50 years, EDSA has been widely recognized for their unparalleled creativity in large-scale comprehensive development project, tourism and resort project, residential project, municipal project, and park and recreation projects. In this interview, B. Scott LaMont, the principal of EDSA, reviews EDSA’s practices in China, evaluates the issues in China's urban construction, and introduces EDSA’s future plans in to China's design market.
With offices in Boston and Shanghai, Sasaki Associates is an award-winning international design firm focusing on planning, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering, interior design, and graphic design. Since 1999, the firm has been at the leading edge of design in China, developing innovative ideas and strategies for projects throughout the country. In this interview, Sasaki reviews their experiences in China over the past 15 years and provides their insight into the nation's design future.
Tom Leader Studio (TLS) is an award wining landscape architecture practice with offices in California, Minnesota and HongKong. Since its inception in 2001, the studio has invested and built upon the unique, inherent qualities of cities and their landscapes. In so doing, TLS seeks to provide a link between emerging ideas and practices and the concrete need for their realization in physical space. In this interview, Leader talks about TLS’s practices and experiences in China and how an “equilibrium of design” may bring a brighter future for the nation.
Brearley Architects+ Urbanists (BAU) is an Australian design firm which founded in 1992, with its Shanghai office established in 2001. Concentrating on China's urban construction, their projects involve architecture, urban design and landscape design. As the founder of BAU, James Brearley reflects upon his team’s exploring of Chinese market, and criticizes China's urban construction on several aspects.
Founded in 2004 in Beijing, SAKO Architects has completed more than 70 projects in China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, and Spain. In addition to the core services of architectural design and interior design, the office also provides services in graphic design, signage design, landscape architecture, and urban planning. In this interview, Keiichiro Sako, founder of the office, introduces his design practices in China, and his design philosophy of developing the “Chinese brand” architecture.
West 8 is an award-winning international office for urban design and landscape architecture, founded in 1987. West 8 has established itself as an international team of over 70 architects, urban designers, landscape architects and engineers. In this interview, Adriaan Geuze, the founder of this office, reviews their significantly growing involvement in China during the last three years.
In this article we use the Guangzhou Tower Delta Studio as a case study to discuss novel parametric urban design processes for the ecological development of new urban settlements. Conventional master plans typically propose a single static ‘end’ condition (at best with a few intermediate phases) derived from top-down visions, often incapable of responding to site-specific microclimatic, topographical and cultural conditions. Frozen in an outmoded context, such strategies deliver ineffective planning in the short-term and require extensive recapitulation in the long-term. In our experimental research, we challenge traditional master plans and explore novel, morphogenetic processes for designing architecture and urban/landscape systems organically, by employing bottom-up, data-driven design strategies, consisting of a computational reading of the performative characteristics operating at a site, a parametric simulation of alternative urban developments over time, and a sculpting of landscape and building forms that address the simultaneous needs for environmental performance and typological invention.
Studying social, ecologic and economic dimensions, a design language is revealed ignored by most designers and policy makers today. LandLAB challenges issues in planning design to think about the importance of landscape behaviors affected by urbanization through exploratory research principals to understand unforeseen complexities in landscape infrastructure where problems are typically hidden, yet revealed through imagery and maps.
LandLAB is a joint research laboratory between Peking University and Turenscape. Recently, having joined forces with HKU and PKU students for a 7-day joint workshop during March 2013, exploring impeding urbanization affects on landscape ecologie. The workshop titled, “Transformation of Post Productive Landscape”, was programmed with guest lectures from Turenscape, as well as tutorial sessions. This was a learning laboratory for students, teachers, and professionals alike, to teach, learn and explore new insightful methods towards landscape urbanism.