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Old May 16th, 2011, 12:35 PM   #81
Langur
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Originally Posted by particlez View Post
contemporary pre-fab architecture can never have the perfect symmetry and proportions and detailing of the Taj Mahal. It doesn't mean contemporary pre-fab isn't worth the effort and is condemned to be second tier.
But cheap concrete pre-fab housing blocks are second tier (or rather fifth tier).
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Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, etc. have a dearth of historicist architecture but still entice the tourist.
Actually Seoul and Tokyo attract remarkably few tourists, despite the fact that, unlike Shenzhen, they have a long, rich history and cultural life, and very sophisticated inhabitants. I personally love Tokyo, by the way. It's easily the greatest city in Asia. I haven't yet been to Seoul.
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Shenzhen has a LOT of talent in architecture and urban planning. The built environment in Shenzhen like elsewhere suffers from developer profit-seeking and limited budgets, but its planning is first rate and it does possess its share of architectural gems.
What are these architectural gems? Can you list some of them?
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The ironic thing is, the architecture trolls of the early 20th. century made similarly dismissive remarks about New York being trashy and devoid of culture. Architectural and social trolls in the very recent past made similarly dismissive comments about Hong Kong. The bad attitudes never seem to change, they'll just critique different upstarts.
Early C20th New York's attempts to mimic European styles were often vulgar. It's only when they pioneered new styles (skyscrapers and art deco) that American cities took their place in architectural history. Shenzhen has not pioneered anything thus far, so don't expect a restropective evaluation to suddenly find its current buildings remarkable. They won't.

Hong Kong's architectural portfolio is actually very thin when one considers individual buildings. There's only a scattering of world class buildings in the entire city. However the architectural world does acknowledge the value of buildings such as HSBC or Bank of China, which are major works of two Pritzker Prize-winning architects. Visitors also enjoy the views from the Peak over thousands of vertical high-rises, most of which are architecturally undistinguished when taken individually, but which form a magnificent panorama when mixed with the hills and islands, and also dignified by the aforementioned scattering of architecturally valuable buildings that rise above the crowd. Shenzhen has neither the natural setting of steep hills and islands, nor the sprinkling of superb individual buildings.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 07:13 PM   #82
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I used to live in Shenzhen back in 2008/2009, got used to it although it is not my cup of tea. Now I am back in Shenzhen every time I am in Guangzhou, last time just about 3 weeks ago, I still feel some interest in this place, always try to check some new areas, this time I went to Longgang district, I took the new metro line 3 which was partly open in Longgang district. The Shenzhen there is quite different from what we can see here

The city used to impress me back than, now it pales compare to Guangzhou. Shenzhen is probably the most polarized city in China, it really has 2 faces, the one we see here and the other being urban villages and industrial areas where the problems tend to concentrate. I guess even if someone lives there it is possible to avoid the problematic areas for years thus so different opinions about Shenzhen. But trying not to see Shenzhen's problematic areas doesn't mean they do not exist and there are no social problems on large scale. Large part of population in Shenzhen is floating population, migrant workers from other provinces who come and go; they are not easy to control especially in informal areas of urban villages where the problems concentrate.
If one were to rank the three large cities on the Eastern PRD in terms of comfort and ease of living, it would be Guangzhou/Shenzhen/Dongguan. I could write a bunch of stuff comparing present day worker organizing in China to 1900s America with Eugene Debs and Big Bill Haywood, but that would be way off scale here.

If one were to apply the same standards to other cities, a visit to Midtown Manhattan would have to have an obligatory reference to the myriad social and economic ills afflicting the poorer areas of town.

At any rate, it's probably easier to compare Shenzhen to Hong Kong of ONE generation ago. They were both industrial centers transitioning into a more mature phase.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 08:40 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by Langur View Post
But cheap concrete pre-fab housing blocks are second tier (or rather fifth tier).Actually Seoul and Tokyo attract remarkably few tourists, despite the fact that, unlike Shenzhen, they have a long, rich history and cultural life, and very sophisticated inhabitants. I personally love Tokyo, by the way. It's easily the greatest city in Asia. I haven't yet been to Seoul.What are these architectural gems? Can you list some of them?Early C20th New York's attempts to mimic European styles were often vulgar. It's only when they pioneered new styles (skyscrapers and art deco) that American cities took their place in architectural history. Shenzhen has not pioneered anything thus far, so don't expect a restropective evaluation to suddenly find its current buildings remarkable. They won't.

Hong Kong's architectural portfolio is actually very thin when one considers individual buildings. There's only a scattering of world class buildings in the entire city. However the architectural world does acknowledge the value of buildings such as HSBC or Bank of China, which are major works of two Pritzker Prize-winning architects. Visitors also enjoy the views from the Peak over thousands of vertical high-rises, most of which are architecturally undistinguished when taken individually, but which form a magnificent panorama when mixed with the hills and islands, and also dignified by the aforementioned scattering of architecturally valuable buildings that rise above the crowd. Shenzhen has neither the natural setting of steep hills and islands, nor the sprinkling of superb individual buildings.
I could respond with the usual HATERZ GONNA HATE line. With you, it'd be apt. Six thousand odd posts? How many are devoted to bashing places you don't know or understand? How much time did it take? But since I'm avoiding Monday morning work, I'll expound a bit.

Apart from the usual technical stuff, one of the things they teach at architecture school is researching archives and learning architectural history. Having a sense of how supposedly "objective" things like aesthetic quality change with time or perspective helps one to appreciate things outside of the surface.

Most of Tokyo is brutalist/modernist. The climate, flattening it through earthquake, fire, and war was bound to have that impact. Yet you still saw past the concrete.

I'll address the New York claim. A century ago New York was newly rich and developing AND it was derided by the contemporary Eurosnobs. The Flatiron building had smashed records for office buildings, AND it was seen as some gauche expression of wealth in a city infamous for its poverty and exploitation. I glanced at an NYC architecture timeline and found the following skyscrapers built around 100 years ago: The Singer Building, the Met Life Tower, Penn Station, Bankers Trust, The Woolworth, and The Municipal Building. So in order, we have a bastardized Mansard roof, a copy of the Campanile, a copy of the Roman Baths of Caracalla, a copy of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, a bizarrely stretched Gothic Tower, and a copy of the Giralda. Do any of these buildings now strike you as vulgar? Mind you, while all these buildings are either fondly missed or recognized as beautiful today, the CONTEMPORARY Eurosnobs saw them as profit-driven, roughly built (steel frame construction =/= delicateness) and derivative of former classics. With your attitude, they'd be right. Btw, art deco originated in France and New York art deco was originally seen as second tier.

New York was also infamous for the endless tenements on the Lower East Side, Brooklyn, Jersey City, etc. These slums were inhabited by restive immigrant workers and overwhelmed the small number of high brow buildings. You could look at the photography of Jacob Riis or read up on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to gain a perspective.

As for Hong Kong, one can say Hong Kong circa 1980 was similar to present day Shenzhen. Factories, factory workers, tabloid stories of blue collar crime, underdeveloped public transit, etc. The same smarmy criticism of Shenzhen today was said about Hong Kong a generation ago. Back then Hong Kong had already demolished most of its old buildings of architectural value, and put in place banal structures like the Landmark and the Prince's Building.

Now, if you want to see why Shenzhen should interest fans of architecture and urban planning, you should see how the city is laid out. It's planned around public transit and will allow the city to be traversed quickly and easily by subway, as opposed to developer-driven planning that builds greenfield single family homes and simply tells them to drive less and consume organic coffee. It's also putting in place something along the lines of Central/Grant Park along its axis between the train station and Civic Center. The Civic Center itself is an enticing Arata Isozaki design. There's the Shenzhen Library and Concert Hall. These things interest me from an academic point of view, as I can observe (or luckily sometimes participate in) their development. Even a cursory trip to the Shenzhen Planning Bureau "should" appeal to fans of architecture and urban planning.

But why should I bother? If you're going to have this attitude, you'll take pride in being dismissive and contemptuous.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 09:52 PM   #84
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Old May 17th, 2011, 01:55 AM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by particlez View Post
I could respond with the usual HATERZ GONNA HATE line. With you, it'd be apt. Six thousand odd posts? How many are devoted to bashing places you don't know or understand? How much time did it take? ...But why should I bother? If you're going to have this attitude, you'll take pride in being dismissive and contemptuous.
Calm down dear...
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Originally Posted by particlez View Post
Most of Tokyo is brutalist/modernist. The climate, flattening it through earthquake, fire, and war was bound to have that impact. Yet you still saw past the concrete.
I don't deny that Tokyo is concrete. Tokyo lacks in architecture compared to its Western rivals, which is perhaps surprising given Japan's superb sense of the aesthetic. However Tokyo does have a good number of excellent modern buildings, fabulous design, some lovely old temples and shrines, some charming neighbourhoods, exciting public spaces, a rich history and cultural life, and a very sophisticated population. Shenzhen has none of these things.
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I'll address the New York claim. A century ago New York was newly rich and developing AND it was derided by the contemporary Eurosnobs. The Flatiron building had smashed records for office buildings, AND it was seen as some gauche expression of wealth in a city infamous for its poverty and exploitation. I glanced at an NYC architecture timeline and found the following skyscrapers built around 100 years ago: The Singer Building, the Met Life Tower, Penn Station, Bankers Trust, The Woolworth, and The Municipal Building. So in order, we have a bastardized Mansard roof, a copy of the Campanile, a copy of the Roman Baths of Caracalla, a copy of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, a bizarrely stretched Gothic Tower, and a copy of the Giralda. Do any of these buildings now strike you as vulgar? Mind you, while all these buildings are either fondly missed or recognized as beautiful today, the CONTEMPORARY Eurosnobs saw them as profit-driven, roughly built (steel frame construction =/= delicateness) and derivative of former classics. With your attitude, they'd be right.
But they were right. New York's turn of the century mimicry of European styles - bastardised mansard roofs etc - was often vulgar, and still looks vulgar today. The Plaza Hotel is a prime example.

As an aside, since you think modern Shenzhen is no different from New York ~1910, then which of Shenzhen's current buildings would you personally select as destined to become as world reknowned and loved as the Flatiron Building?
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Btw, art deco originated in France and New York art deco was originally seen as second tier.
The style originated in France, but proved more popular in the US, and is far more associated with American cities than French. It also continued to evolve, and what we think of today as Art Deco architecture is primarily an American style.
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As for Hong Kong, one can say Hong Kong circa 1980 was similar to present day Shenzhen. Factories, factory workers, tabloid stories of blue collar crime, underdeveloped public transit, etc. The same smarmy criticism of Shenzhen today was said about Hong Kong a generation ago. Back then Hong Kong had already demolished most of its old buildings of architectural value, and put in place banal structures like the Landmark and the Prince's Building.
I agree. Hong Kong in 1980 had little to recommend it architecturally. They'd destroyed most of the good old buildings, and had yet to build any good new stuff. And yes I would say the same of Shenzhen today, with the sole difference that Shenzhen never had any nice old stuff to begin with.
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Now, if you want to see why Shenzhen should interest fans of architecture and urban planning, you should see how the city is laid out. It's planned around public transit and will allow the city to be traversed quickly and easily by subway, as opposed to developer-driven planning that builds greenfield single family homes and simply tells them to drive less and consume organic coffee. It's also putting in place something along the lines of Central/Grant Park along its axis between the train station and Civic Center.... Even a cursory trip to the Shenzhen Planning Bureau "should" appeal to fans of architecture and urban planning.
Yes but the buildings and streets (what I was referring to) are almost all unattractive. The city as a whole is unappealing.
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The Civic Center itself is an enticing Arata Isozaki design. There's the Shenzhen Library and Concert Hall. These things interest me from an academic point of view, as I can observe (or luckily sometimes participate in) their development.
Thanks for your examples. I don't love it, and it's a bit C-list, but the complex shows a bit more effort than the utter dross in Pansori's photos. However this one complex is not enough to overturn my overall impression that Shenzhen architecture is very poor.
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Last edited by Langur; May 17th, 2011 at 11:11 AM.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 02:00 AM   #86
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Guys, shall we NOT make this into a debate thread? How about sticking to photos and all the regular stuff? I think most of us have already expressed our opinions, hence no need to repeat them.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 04:49 AM   #87
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I think that's an interesting debate.
You send pictures, people comments and it's a good thread for anybody wanting to visit or even live in Shenzhen.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 05:13 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by Langur View Post
Hong Kong's architectural portfolio is actually very thin when one considers individual buildings. There's only a scattering of world class buildings in the entire city. However the architectural world does acknowledge the value of buildings such as HSBC or Bank of China, which are major works of two Pritzker Prize-winning architects. Visitors also enjoy the views from the Peak over thousands of vertical high-rises, most of which are architecturally undistinguished when taken individually, but which form a magnificent panorama when mixed with the hills and islands, and also dignified by the aforementioned scattering of architecturally valuable buildings that rise above the crowd. Shenzhen has neither the natural setting of steep hills and islands, nor the sprinkling of superb individual buildings.
There are worst panoramas that those from Shenzhen don't you think?



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Old May 17th, 2011, 05:27 AM   #89
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I think that's an interesting debate.
You send pictures, people comments and it's a good thread for anybody wanting to visit or even live in Shenzhen.
Oh sure, don't get me wrong. Actually I'm very interested in reading people's opinions. I've learned quite something in this very thread. I just want to make sure we all stay polite and don't start bashing and arguing just for the sake of doing that. I'm very happy to see people comment and engage into intelligent and reasoned discussion. Especially since my next trip to SZ is probably going to happen as soon as next year and will surely last longer than one day.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 09:36 AM   #90
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Originally Posted by Langur View Post
Shenzhen has neither the natural setting of steep hills and islands, nor the sprinkling of superb individual buildings.
Here are some buildings that I personally think are of interest.

Shenzhen future stock exchange under construction (by OMA):
http://www.dezeen.com/2007/01/11/new...ages-from-oma/
image hosted on flickr

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Shenzhen Civic Center:
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Shenzhen great horizontal Skyscraper by Steven Holl:
One of the winner of 2011 New York AIA design awards:
http://www.archdaily.com/133064/aia-...award-winners/

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Excellence Century Plaza, just finished:
image hosted on flickr


Shenzhen DaMeiSha Sheraton:
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NanShan Stadium:

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Old May 17th, 2011, 11:22 AM   #91
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@YannSZ
The panoramas you post are nice, but they all have Photoshop-enhanced sunsets and saturation, and the view only looks nice by night, when the ugliness of the building stock is obscured, and all you can see are lights.

The Nanshan Stadium will be genuinely special, I agree, though it's too far in the outskirts to contribute much to the city. I'm not excited by the others though. I can't see any beauty in the new Stock Exchange or Excellence Plaza.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 11:42 AM   #92
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frankly speaking,from these pics,shenzhen is a little below my expection. the details of streets can be done much better(considering shenzhen is top rich city in china)
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Old May 17th, 2011, 01:46 PM   #93
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frankly speaking,from these pics,shenzhen is a little below my expection. the details of streets can be done much better(considering shenzhen is top rich city in china)
I would disagree. The details of landscaping and building in Shenzhen are top-notch. Only city which genuinely compares or outperforms it from what I have personally seen is Singapore which is like 4 times wealthier and a developed and established city which it was for decades. Shenzhen's GDP per capita is something in the range of US$15,000 and if you compare it to most equivalents in terms of wealth you will see that it outperforms probably all of them them by a very large margin. That's my two cents on this.
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Old May 17th, 2011, 04:11 PM   #94
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@YannSZ
The panoramas you post are nice, but they all have Photoshop-enhanced sunsets and saturation, and the view only looks nice by night, when the ugliness of the building stock is obscured, and all you can see are lights.

The Nanshan Stadium will be genuinely special, I agree, though it's too far in the outskirts to contribute much to the city. I'm not excited by the others though. I can't see any beauty in the new Stock Exchange or Excellence Plaza.
You're right about the photoshop-enhanced sunsets, but I just wanted to make a point in showing that it's not that far from Hong Kong Skyline. I surely can find some nice day light non photoshoped pictures of Shenzhen City. I took some. You can check in the link in my signature.

NanShan Stadium is not too far in the outskirts! Do you live in Shenzhen?
I love excellence plaza 4 towers, but this is personal.

Horizontal skyscraper is great, I love the Sheraton hotel from DaMeiSha.

But all this was to show that there are some diverse and interesting works of architectures in Shenzhen wether or not you like them. But they feature very distinctive shapes and interesting architectural features.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 06:02 AM   #95
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I think it would be a little foolish to claim that Shenzhen has nothing interesting in terms of architecture. It's obvious that it has. It's got the names of many famous architects and it's a newly purpose-built modern city with great planning, urban solutions and architecture to match. Of course noone's claiming it to be on par with Shanghai or NYC in terms of contemporary architecture of individual buildings. I guess we should give it a few more years for that and perhaps see what developments like Qianhai Water City will bring for us. But individual buildings are certainly not the sole criteria of evaluating of how good/bad a city is.

Again, judging by my personal experience I have been to very few cities where it felt more stress-free and relaxing from a perspective of a pedestrian. All cities have shortcomings, better and worse areas and things to be deservedly criticized. However it cannot be dismissed that Shenzhen is one of the great contemporary examples of urbanity, planning and simply a job done well once it comes to making it a nice place for people to walk, drive, use public transport or simply chill out. Next time I will try to explore the city more and dismiss such claims of my own if possible. Therefore I am very much open to any suggestions of what must be seen and done in order to get the "other" picture of the city. Of course I would expect such suggestions by those who actually know the city well.

Anyway, I shall continue with my pictures for now

Views from Shun Hing Square which until very recently was the tallest skyscraper in Shenzhen now overtaken by Kingkey 100 tower

153.
The street below: Shennan East Rd. which becomes Shennan Avenue farther in the West and carries on for something like 20km crossing virtually the entire city


154. That small greenish highrise is Shenzhen Stock Exchange


155. View towards Luohu. This is the part of Shenzhen I didn't see


156.


157.


158. Kingkey 100. The 442m supertall nearing completion


159. Apartment blocks
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Old May 18th, 2011, 06:10 AM   #96
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160.


161. Border area and Hong Kong can be well seen


162. Shennan East Road


163.


164. Shenzhen Railway Station and Luohu border checkpoint with Hong Kong


165.


166.


167.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 11:15 AM   #97
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Depends what you are after really. Ive been to Shenzhen and they have some really nice buildings. not just shenzhen but many parts of guangzhou and guangdong province. What they don't have is an international media that constantly throw these images into our faces, hence why they aren't popular or well known, ie iconic. Many of their skyscrapers are really good.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 04:43 AM   #98
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168.


169.


170.


171.


172.


173.


174.


175.


176. Shenzhen stadium, built in 1993


177.


189. Futian skyscrapers

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Old May 21st, 2011, 06:21 AM   #99
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Continued...

190. Kingkey 100


191.


192.


193. View towards Hong Kong


194. Shun Hing Square
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Old May 21st, 2011, 06:26 AM   #100
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195.



196. Shun Hing Square


197.


198.


199. Da Ju Yuan (Grand Theater) metro station nearby Shun Hing Square


200. Back in Futian CBD


201.
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