Design ethos revealed for Chinese pavilion in Venice
Sustainable development to be main theme
Published: May 08, 2023 10:46 PM
Photo: Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo: Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The design ethos for the Pavilion of ­China at the upcoming 18th International Architecture Exhibition (IAE) in Venice, Italy, was revealed at a press conference in Beijing on Monday.  

The theme of the Chinese pavilion will be "Renewal: A Symbiotic Narrative." 

The design will scrutinize the "global issue of sustainable urban and rural development" and is a response toward the theme of the 2023 IAE, "The Laboratory of the Future," Zheng Hao, a first-class inspector at the Bureau of International Exchange and Cooperation at China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, told the Global Times. 

Using Shanghai as its narrative center, the "symbiotic" pavilion will provide a unique Chinese architectural depiction of the correlation between "urban cities," "nature" and "people" during the country's 40 years of urbanization. 

"Livable, Legendary and Versatile Images," "Livable - Renewal - Shanghai Story" and "Symbiosis, Future, and Natural Revitalization" are three sections that Ruan Xin, the pavilion's curator and the director of the School of Design at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, conceived for the 2023 IAE. 

The first section showcases 25 Chinese urban designs. Ruan revealed to the Global Times that these works will be projected onto boards shaped like Chinese scrolls to give the exhibits a traditional feel. 

The featured design for the second section includes Riverside Passage by architect Liu Yichun. It is a classic case of urban renewal in which the architect turned an industrial coal pier into a modern space for culture. The third section will host seven design projects discussing technology's influence on urban architecture.

Su Dan, an expert on the Assessment Committee for the pavilion's design, told the Global Times that China achieved a high urbanization rate and construction scale in just 40 years of time, which took Western countries over a century to fulfill.

"The country's intensive and rapidly developing architectural design and practice have attracted global attention," Su said, adding that the current plan for the pavilion is a promising one selected after three rounds of review. 

To a true urbanist, the renewal of a city isn't all about a fast-forward process of tearing down the "old" to replace it with the new, Ruan said, noting that he believes sustainable urban development is a "fascinating paradox."

"It is the changed within the unchanged," he said, adding that a city needs to be revitalized with new designs yet still preserve its cultural characteristics and traditions. 

In 2005, China's first national pavilion debuted at the IAE, which is also known as the Biennale Architettura. 

"Generations of Chinese architects continue to explore building designs with Chinese characteristics that reflect the Chinese spirit, bringing inspiration and vitality to the development of world architecture and providing Chinese wisdom and solutions," Zheng told the Global Times. 

The pavilion was commissioned by the China Arts and Entertainment Group under the support of China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism. 

The Venice show is scheduled to run from May 20 to November 26. Lesley Lokko, a versatile artist in literature and architecture is the curator of the 2023 IAE. Her works will draw audiences closer to her cultural reflection on Africa through spacious designs.