urban border

  • A馆环景拼图



”URBAN BORDER” is premised on the pluralist values of urbanism.

Globally, rapidly developing cities and the drive for urbanization have to aconsiderable extent embodied certain kinds of“mainstream” tendencies and homogeneity: an alternative reading being the disregard or even effacement of urban diversity, differences and specificities. The phenomenon of “border” would at east include the following understandings:sociologically it can imply peripheral spaces of the city, fringe groups, marginal lifestyles; in the context of political science it can refer to regulation of how urban public resources are organized and distributed; and in urban geography it can denote borders and interstices of urban development,as well as the interrelatedness between the  city and natural ecologies.

The 2013 UABB hopes to revolve around the thematic orientation of Urban Border,in order to fully reveal the multiple possibilities of urban culture, urban space and urban living and their associated issues.


  • 双年展B馆
  • 双年展B馆
  • 双年展B馆

Curatorial Statement of Li Xiangning + Jeffrey Johnson Team:A single “documentary” through multiple historical readings of “cities”


The city can be examined in many ways and across many disciplines. Multiple readings from diverse perspectives provide an array of interpretations that express rich and varied narratives. There is no single story and method of documentation. With the theme “Crossing Urban Boundaries,” we will explore the “city” through the lens of borders, boundaries and edges. These conditions extend beyond merely physical borders to include those delineated by nonphysical and ephemeral forces, which might include the sociological, political, psychological, economic and environmental. As perfectly reflected in Chinese, the compound word “Bian Yuan (boundary)” represents the concept of border, which does not merely mean physical border, but differences among diversified subcultures and distinctive identities. By splitting the word “Bian Yuan” into two individual characters, we actually emphasize the meaning of relationship, connection and opportunity (Yuan) instead of the meaning of borderline of differentiation (Bian). We will utilize the concept of this Chinese word to express a condition or identity, which surpasses spatial boundaries, accepting fragmentation and difference while seeking the possibility of bridging and blurring such differences.

We propose through the biennale to reassert the importance of knowledge and research in architectural and urban design discourse, and to make UABB(SZ) the center of this conversation. Through the documentation and dissemination of a vast collection of urban images, projects, experiments and texts, we intend to provoke a possible future by reading, or misreading, the past, even a most recent one. Even with the flattening of the world through globalization, we are witnessing complex shifts in “boundary” conditions throughout the urban world. We hope that by revealing these through multiple readings and interpretations, a future “boundary” condition can be defined that will stimulate creative and inspiring experiments that promote vital methods of interaction and communication. Boundaries continuously mutate and transform with multiple morphological and ideological shifts, which provide their constantly evolving identities.

The exhibition will be conceived as a single “documentary” (Latin word documentum could be separated into docere (Latin: “teach”) and mens (Latin: “intellect”) that will express the concept of “Bian Yuan” through multiple historical readings of “cities”. We will explore the “boundary” of the contemporary city from a historical perspective. Many cities, both in China and abroad, were enveloped by walls. As the walls came down new boundaries formed. These were formed by a multitude of forces, including economics, cultures, politics and geography. Today we have “edge cities” that operate as thickened boundaries between the urban and rural. There have been cities split in two by wars, beliefs, politics and walls. There are industrial perimeters that once defined the urban boundary, both physically and economically, that are now outmoded and inhibitors of growth. There are tightly controlled and bound enclaves with distinct identities that are nestled within cities. There are more and more gated communities being constructed in urban and suburban areas. There are cities, and parts of cities, that are designated as free ports and SEZ’s that rely on boundary control at a local condition yet are free to expand through global networks. There are Foucault’s heterotopias, places of the “other,” that because they belong to nowhere co-opt and carve out spaces for themselves. We will invite a multi-disciplinary group of participants made up of architects, urbanists, sociologists, artists, and photographers to create through a number of case studies, films, mass media, projects and field research present a critical perspective of these conditions of urban boundaries. The studies will delve into the causes, effects and consequences of boundaries on urban public spaces, the conditions of marginalized spaces, and of the urban-rural peripheries. The exhibition will not prioritize physical forms of boundaries but will illuminate the multiplicity of forms and spatializations that are formed by the multitude of forces.

The post-industrial site of the biennale provides the perfect context for this exhibition. The Biennale site located in a rehabilitated industrial architecture will provide an inspiring context for projecting alternative urban futures through a historical reading. As China’s economy and its industrial production evolve, the legacy of its industrial architecture and its relationship to the city will become ever more important. How will these architectures be adapted into the future city as both a productive site for innovation and as a reminder of its recent past?

  • 展场A-内部
  • 双年展A馆
  • 双年展A馆
  • 耀皮玻璃厂
  • 耀皮玻璃厂

Ole Bouman Team: Biennale as Risk


Once upon a time in a large part of the world, China was thought of as a remote place. People there described it as an exotic country, in “The Far East”. For them, it was situated at the border of the modern world.

For centuries, Shenzhen was a small village at the border of China. That is until a man called Deng Xiaoping decided to develop it as a Special Economic Zone, making it a hub to serve the world with products made in China.

For a long time Shekou was a remote neighbourhood at the border of Shenzhen. Shekou was even so much off centre, that a man called Yuan Geng, got a chance to set up a social-economic experiment, establishing in Shekou the first industry park in China and pursuing social and political reforms. Shekous, exactly for its remoteness, could become a laboratory for future change in Pearl River Delta and China.

For years, the Glass factory was an industrial plant at the border of Shekou. The factory was out of sight of culture and politics and very near the waterfront, and it quietly brought China and Shenzhen prosperity by providing glass for big buildings and many cars. By doing so, it directly facilitated Shenzhen’s and Shekou’s growth. But more, it contributed to the image of new China.

All this time, the factory was just that: a factory. A production facility. Nothing special. The factory’s design got a prize for being sound and solid, not for being different. All its parts and all its details supported its serving character. It was a factory without glamour, without drama, and did not ask for any attention while it contributed to the Glass Factory’s purpose: output. It contributed to Shekou’s purpose, to provide the world with Chinese products. It contributed to Shenzhen as a Special Economic Zone.

And this was how it was for a long time. Since its foundation 30 years ago, the factory did its fair share to modernize China and helped to transform it into the global player it is now. At the border of the border of the urban border, it did not need attention. All it needed was sand, limestone, soda ash, dolomite and glass cullet and a couple of furnaces to make the glass. Thank you modest, humble, imperturbable factory.

Today, the situation has changed. Functionality and anonymity are no longer useful. The Factory has moved on to new territories, while Shekou revamps itself, one more time as a place to be. And even Shenzhen is no longer an Economic Special Zone, as we know it. It is sparked to become a Cultural Special Zone. From a border city benefitting from production and distribution, it now is ready to transition into a place for ideas and knowledge, for creativity and wit. From its position in a delta it is perfectly located to connect China to the world, and it is now mature enough to become a world in itself: to digest, translate, transform, and transcend all the surrounding and imposed energies. The production of the known, such as industrialized commodity, is no longer enough and Shenzhen is on the cusp of exploring the unknowns. To explore the unknown it needs creativity and risk. So, obviously, the vehicle that has been founded to take these risks –the biennale- decided to move on to new urban borders: to Shekou – the harbour terminal area and to the factory. All to ask itself, which new value can be found there. And if not found, how can it be created?

A biennale conceived in this way, can not rely on the techniques upon which most biennales rely: to present stand alone showcases to as many people as possible, at attractive venues that people love to visit. But this biennale is not one to only please an audience. This biennale dares to take a risk. Perhaps it can not make everybody happy and perhaps it will disappoint some. This biennale won’t just be a bearer for content, it needs to make its bearer into content. A biennale to shift its venues from background into foreground. It taps into the energy of a new historical cycle in the modernization of the city, and contribute to that energy.

This biennale doesn’t glorify. It experiments. It doesn’t consolidate. It takes risks. It is a vehicle for change, for real change. It produces leverage for alternative histories and a new future.

For the factory…

For Shekou…

For Shenzhen…

And for China…

And by doing so, hopefully for a crucial agent of all of these: China Merchants. The company to which Yuan Geng belonged began its life in 1872 still under the Qing Dynasty and lived and prospered through all of the phases of Chinese history ever since. For this Biennale we take one of the key principles of China Merchants in the highest esteem : to remain a pioneer at whatever age.

This time there is no need to pioneer on tabula rasa or to push to another frontier. Now we can start with existing qualities, identifying them, highlighting them, dramatizing them and, by doing so, begin a new practice of social and urban renewal.

But this biennial is about more than identification. We also will use our intuition, sensitivity, romantic inclination, and all our cultural subjectivities, to explore the potentials of the future and guide our visitors along a repertoire of hope, towards new futures.

A future that perhaps makes Shenzhen into a place that gives people a reason to stay and grow old.
A future that perhaps gives amnesty to history and heritage.
A future that is contrary to the self-perpetuating regime of GDP.
A place that creates value by preserving it.

For me, Creative Direction of the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture(Shenzhen) means: to breath new life into old foundations.