2/28/2012

Today's video: ORDOS 100, a documentary by Ai Weiwei

Ordos 100, a construction project curated by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei in inner Mongolia, China. The key to this project is to build a community in this part of China.

Ordos, a new city, a prefecture-level city, one of the twelve major subdivisions of inner Mongolia. Ordos's area is 87,000 sq. km (34,000 sq mi) with a population of 1,548,000 for a density of 17.79 pp/sq. km (46.08 pp/sq mi). Its topography is particular in that the region covers the larger part of the Ordos Desert. The urban area remains small. Main elements are hills, high plateaus, sandy desert and plains.
Originally appeared on A Daily Dose of Architecture
Launched in 2008, Ordos 100 is a construction project initiated by a Chinese client, Jiang Yuan Water Engineering Ltd. Curator are Ai Wewei's studio FAKE Design in charge of the masterplan for the 100 parcels of land, and Herzog & de Meuron in charge of the selection of the 100 architects from 27 countries.
Ordos 100. Originally appeared on A Daily Dose of Architecture

2 phases: first phase consisting of developing 28 parcels; Second phase inviting the architects to develop the remaining 72. And each architects was responsible for a 1000-square-meter Villa.
I will not go back to this project as a large number of review have been written on Ordos 100. I suggest to read or re-read in case you just discovered this project: A Daily Dose of Architecture.

These selected architects were, at least for many of them, from the United States. Some, nonetheless, are from Switzerland, Israel, South Africa, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, Chile. These architects are 'talented', to paraphrase Alejandro Aravena one of the architects in the video: from MOS, Keller Easterling, Toshiko Mori, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss/Normal Architecture Office, to Preston Scott Cohen, Lyn Rice Architects, Slade Architecture, Sou Fujimoto Architects, Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Alejandro Aravena, F451 Arquitectura, Iwamoto Scott, among many others.

Below is a documentary directed by one of the curators, as mentioned above, Ai Weiwei/FAKE Design, showing three site visits made by the archictects from these '27 countries'. You have already watched this video on different platforms but I could not help but post here, too.

Ai Weiwei as usual did not make any concessions showing fully the articulation of this Ordos 100 Architects projects, including the participants' concern, misunderstanding about the investor's project, the organizers' misunderstanding of the architects' concerns, the issue of money, and so on. This video poses the question of a country that tends to enter in a sort of competition engaging in a frenetic urbanization of the totality of its very large-scale territory. And once again urbanization is used as an economical instrument. As China is becoming richer and richer, some clients want their own cities, their own communities paying architects, be they local or international, be they internationally recognised or emerging. Others want to contribute to the rapid economic growth, and urban migration developing large-scale projects for dwelling these new urban candidates. Others again, consider cities as the solution for a better living condition of the population… Yet most of these investors surprisingly avoid the crucial question: for whom are they building? Quoting Cedric Price, a city that is not built for its citizens is a dead city. This is, in my view, what this documentary partly shows: uncomplete, broken, or while completed, dead cities, cities that ignore completely their residents.
If so, let me put the question another way: what Ai Weiwei's documentary attempts to emphasize is to inviting China to shift from 'what cities for China?' into 'how to build human-scale cities?' Cities that are made for people to live in, that respond to people's specific needs. And of course I sum up.

And, unsurprisingly, we finally learned that Ordos 100, this ambitious, probably one of the craziest projects suggested by an ambitious investor, remains… uncomplete, namely a ghost community, or 'broken' community.

If you have not watched this video yet, I suggest to watch from the beginning since it is a very interesting documentary, particularly rare, on building in China, on China's urbanization, urban migration and rapid economic growth.



Credit video: Ai Weiwei. Initially posted on Youtube by iffrotterdam

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