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Innovation

Here are the Chinese Projects That Made the World Architecture Festival 2018 Shortlist

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With a main event taking place at the end of November in Amsterdam, the World Architecture Festival bills itself as “the world’s largest, live, inclusive and interactive global architectural awards programme and festival”. So how big is it? Well, their shortlist features 536 projects from 81 different countries. They’re nothing if not comprehensive.

There are over 35 categories of award, with most prizes broken down into recently completed and “coming soon” buildings and projects. That’s a lot to wade through, but there are some truly stunning creations to click around on on their website.

There’s also a whole load of China-related entries — both projects by Chinese firms and initiatives built/being built in the country. WAF were kind enough to share images from all of the China-related projects with RADII and below we’ve selected some of our favorite just-finished structures for your viewing pleasure (hit the thumbnails for bigger photos):

Lacime Architects – Culture Matters Vanke Big Family Housing Community Center

This Suzhou-based community center picks up on some of the themes of local architecture, putting a thoroughly modern spin on the traditional white walls and gray roofs that are also echoed in I.M. Pei’s imperious Suzhou Museum and on the ancient Chinese city-planning ideal of “nine li squares, three doors in each city wall (four walls for the city), nine avenues from north to south, nine avenues from west to east, each avenue can accommodate nine carriages in parallel.”

Atelier TeamMinus – Aranya Ideas Youth Camp and Community Centre

Set in the northern province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, this sweeping structure outside the coastal city of Qinhuangdao is home to Qixing Education, who provide summer and winter camp for students. The idea of the project is to give the children “a community of their own” and allow them “to get close to nature while learning various skills in culture, craft, and socialization.”

Onearth Architect – Macha Village Centre

Constructed in one of China’s poorest provinces, Gansu, this community center is aimed at providing the village with a communal hub but also with transforming residents’ views of traditional rammed-earth architecture. The eco-friendly building process can be seen as backward by many in the region, but this project aims to demonstrate that it can be aesthetically pleasing and modern.

HDD – Mulan Weichang Visitor Centre

Another entry from Hebei, this time from further north near the border with Inner Mongolia and its expansive grasslands. Using local stone, wooden beams, and rattan, this visitor center draws heavily on traditional yurt structures and boasts a glorious central lobby that also doubles as the local library.

Beijing Institute of Architectural Design – Zhuhai Opera House

From a project at pains to fit in with its surrounding landscape, to one at pains to stand out. This 50,000 sqm opera house cost 1.08 billion RMB (158 million USD) to create. Those giant macaron-looking things are meant to represent scallops. It’s certainly a striking structure.

Shan Jun Atelier – Museum of Traditional Mongolian Medicine

The Inner Mongolian city of Tongliao has become an important center for Traditional Mongolian Medicine research in recent years and this museum — which eye-catchingly combines a series of skewed towers and sunken areas — will host a range of historical exhibits as well as regular symposiums on the practice.

West-line Studio – Shui Cultural Center

Billed as “a gateway to the land of the Shui” (the Shui being one of Guizhou’s many ethnic minorities), this project is loaded with meaning, as West-line Studio explain:

Despite being few in number, the Shui people have still retained their own language, together with their unique system of pictographs. They have around 400 characters used mostly during ceremonies and sacrifices. The iconic shape of the cultural center pays homage to the Shui language, following the shape of the character for ’mountain’. The facade pattern is also inspired by Shui’s traditional characters, starting again from the basic triangular shape of the mountain, which is repeated to evoke the character for ’rain’.

People’s Architecture Office – The People’s Station

Built in just three months, this structure utilizes prefabricated materials and some unusual angles to make for an intriguing cultural center that the architects say is “designed to reinvigorate the sleepy Kwan-Yen district of Yantai”, a city in eastern China’s Shandong Province. The structure hosts a cinema, bookstore and lounge area in addition to a range of exhibitions.

Monoarchi – Treewow Retreat

Set amongst the rolling green hills of Zhejiang Province, south of Shanghai and home to Hangzhou, the Treewow Retreat is surrounded by bamboo on one side and a tea plantation on the other. Somehow, Shanghai and Rotterdam-based architects Monoarchi didn’t think throwing up a giant concrete, steel and glass structure was the way forward here, opting instead for wavy wooden surfaces and a (sans-tree) treehouse feel.

HDD – Container Home

Shipping containers turned into homes isn’t an especially revolutionary concept these days, but it’s still not something you expect to see in a Chinese city all that often. Shanghai has dabbled with the idea of repurposing container units a little before — the West Bund area of the city has a few strewn beside the Huangpu River, with their main use these days as a running shop for Adidas — but this is something else.

The clever thing about this project from Shanghai 3D printing designer and architect Zhang Hao’ao is its adaptability — various elements of the rooms can be transformed to turn them from meeting rooms or lounges into bedrooms, with fold-down beds and other flexible furniture set-ups. The aim, according to Zhang, is to showcase a model for future affordable housing for millenials, something we’re all for.

Wutopia Lab – Plain House

The home and personal museum of artist Li Bin in Shanghai is… well, a home fit for an artist. Spectacular skylights, leaf pattern mouldings on the external walls, and indoor waterfalls make up this incredible project, which is anything but plain.

Beijing Tsinghua Tongheng Urban Planning and Design Institute – 2022 Winter Olympic Organizing Committee Headquarters

We kind of expect Robotnik to be hiding out here or something, but apparently this is where plans are being formulated for the Beijing 2022 Olympics and Paralympics. A former steel mill in the Shougang district of the capital has been completely transformed into a state-of-the-art office space to house all the organizers and officials bringing curling, luge, and more to China.

SUP Atelier – Village Lounge of Shangcun

A beautiful, sustainable project from Song Und Partner Atelier in Anhui Province (near Shanghai in eastern China), this shared “village lounge” took over a largely collapsed ancestral home and made use of old and local materials, including in the giant bamboo “umbrellas” overhead. The project was built with the help of local residents, who were also trained in the maintenance of its core materials at the same time.

RSAA Büro Ziyu Zhuang – Tongling Recluse

Another environment-sensitive entry set in Anhui, this project is a revitalization of a formerly dilapidated mountainside “folk house”. The design takes the original structure and the area’s traditional Huiyang architectural style and creates an open, natural light-filled modern living space.

For more from the World Architecture Festival, see their site here.

All images courtesy World Architecture Festival.

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Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.

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