Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Across Chinese Cities – The Community (The Objects Spaces and Rituals of the Collective)

Collateral Event of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Following its two previous instalments at the Biennale Architettura 2014 and 2016, the third chapter of the Across Chinese Cities program is a continued exploration of the rapport between the built environment and socio-economic processes of change in the contemporary Chinese context. Promoted by Beijing Design Week in partnership with Suzhou Municipal Government, Across Chinese Cities – The Community explores approaches to planning linked to the development of ‘communities’ as mechanisms that create new systems of social, economic and spatial belonging. The project offers an unprecedented look at over 20 case studies that draw upon the ‘’emancipating potentialities of commoning’’ (Stavros Stavrides, ‘’The City as Commons’’) through integrated design strategies which embody new notions of collective identity and thus novel interrelated norms of co-dependence, participation and inclusivity.  By tackling localized predicaments generated by uneven economic distribution, environmental scarcity and demographic fragmentation, they shed light on a transitional framework of development where new subjectivities are emerging and so producing co-actualized protocols of governance on the micro-scale.

Nested through tiered urban contexts, from historic districts, second tier cities to urban villages, and rural areas across different Chinese regions, these projects are predicated on the edification of enlightened methodologies of contemporary coexistence, where spatial transformation becomes auxiliary to the consolidation of new alliances among economic actors, governmental stakeholders and civic constituencies in medicating the disruptive effects of forty years of China’s unabated urbanizing race.

The exhibition is organized in six thematic frameworks – Working Paradigms / The Domestic Sphere / The Consumer Revolution / Culture, Learning & Care / Leisure & Playtime / Mobility – each providing a narrative entry point to socio-cultural constructs where collective life is customarily consumed and reproduced. 

Once again showcased in the unique framework of Ca Tron palace, the ground floor plays host to the ACC 2018 Guest City – Suzhou chapter and features studies on community development centred around the Pingjiang Road Preservation and Regeneration Plan; collectively these explore the city’s unique context of preserved traditions found in its historic urban fabric, crafts heritage and abundant natural resources, to enrich its ecological, economic and social condition.

On the first floor 15 selected projects are accommodated in an installation devised by DONTSTOP Architettura  of Michele Brunello, co-curator of the exhibition, together with Omri Revesz Studio – here thematic contents are laid in an archipelago of curvilinear shapes where an assemblage of visual and textual materials renders explicit the symbolic and physical systems of objects, spaces and rituals embedded in their making, thus unearthing connections among past and present regimes of sharing.  

‘’Each of these propositions behaves in responsive capacity towards a reconciliation between policy-relevant and community-native forms of ordering based on mutual fulfilment, cultural empowerment and thus ‘collective inventiveness’ ‘’ states Beatrice Leanza, curator of the show.

The exhibition includes historical itineraries drawing connections between the present case studies and past governmentalities of architectural and social formations – the People’s Commune, the Danwei (working unit) and the Socialist Mansion, so to suggest understandings of publicness, resilience and civic participation that might differ from their Western equivalents. The project eventually aims at collating knowledge around economic and socio-spatial dynamics of modern development in China centred around enabling the ‘making of community’ as a ‘’project, rather than an accomplished state’’, which therefore inform novel discursive and planning practices of responsive governance and creative management for the contemporary city.


3andwich Design / He Wei Studio, 9town-studio, AA School of Architecture/AA Visiting School (China), Atlas Studio, Bishan Crafts Cooperative, B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio, CHIASMUS Partners, Common Design Studio, DATAOJO, Digua Community, Doffice, Elsewhere, Kwan-Yen Project / Ou Ning, MAT Office, META-Project, MDDM Studio, People’s Architecture Office, Southeast University School of Architecture, Stefano Boeri Architetti, Tianqiao E-life.


Beatrice Leanza – The Global School

Michele Brunello – DONTSTOP Architettura

Curator Guest City – Suzhou: Wu Wenyi – Nexus Institute for Community Research

Guest Curators –  Slow Village:  Chen Anhua, Ke Wei

Exhibition Design

DONTSTOP Architettura (Michele Brunello and Marco Brega) / Team: Caterina Fumagalli, Jacopo Nori

Omri Revesz Studio / Team: Giada Cossignani

HIS Design (Guest City Suzhou)

Visual and Graphic Design

LAVA Beijing

Across Chinese Cities Program Management

Initiator: Vittorio Sun Qun


2030 Journal / UNESCO Beijing

Moving Targets – The 2030 Journal Project 

The 2030 journal is an initiative launched by Beijing’s International Centre for Creativity and Sustainable Development (ICCSD) under the auspices of UNESCO, an editorial venture that takes as a point of departure the Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 New Urban Agenda, ratified at the 2016 Habitat III Conference in Quito. Four SDGs of the total seventeen were selected to each provide a thematic blueprint for the four issues that compose the series – they are Sustainable Cities & Communities, Decent Work & Economic Growth, Affordable & Clean Energy, and Quality Education.  

Developed by B/Side Design – downlad the pilot issue at this link

This publication project explores the transformative affinities and productive contradictions of processes and ideas that bind localized protocols of economic, urban, and socio-cultural character to communal survival on a global expanse. The time capsule from which it takes its title, 2030, stands here as a symbolic buoy around which we at times gravitate closer and at times move the farthest apart – a metaphor for the peripatetic feat of theoretical and practical creativity that as humans we endeavour in tackling the phenomena that challenge, shape and hope for a more equitable and sustainable future. As a research venture, this journal aims at creating a new platform for knowledge, perspectives and cases generating from the Chinese experience to enter dialogue with concurrent international studies, and thus open new conduits for their mutual understanding.  

2030 is not about the latest or the newest. It is a collection of precise positions and punctual testimonies as told in different textual and visual contributions ranging from academic essay, to image gallery, journalistic report as well as personal notation which locate resonances of intellectual and practical agency across diverse fields of knowledge and their originating contexts. These juxtapositions of literary styles as forms of insight shelter discursive trajectories that, while assertive in their findings, offer readers open-ended avenues of further reflection around chosen topics that are pinpointed throughout by tags found on the margins of pages.

Each issue is structured in two main halves, their divide marked by a section titled Visualize Me – pages dedicated to unique works of data visualization and info graphics pertinent to each theme.

With this visual crevasse at its heart, the journal’s first part comprises three chapters – The Big Picture, The Small Picture, China Logs – which constitute the core discursive receptacles staging dialogue between world-views and localized insights, by than introducing Chinese perspectives of relevance for their responsive capacity to shared global challenges and ambitions. The following sections – Serial Innovators, The Future of Things, Global Classroom – introduce concrete initiatives and individual works of poignancy that celebrate a perpetual drive towards innovation originating from the private and educational sectors, and strive to generate real-world impact from the bottom-up of start-up offices, school labs or design studios.    

This first issue which takes the 11th SDG as its subject – Sustainable Cities & Communities –  delves into thinking practices around the anchoring concept of ‘resilience’, a moniker of social, economic and urban constructs predicated on remedial ecologies of reciprocation and co-actualization. A dedicated column dubbed The Point, which will recur in every issue, offers an in-depth look at its hard-to-grasp contours. We have featured propositions of enlightened pragmatism and intellectual capacity that respond to what is urgent and risk-inducing for the perpetuation of our spatial and social environs, with the ethically minded intent of creative strategies that foster new relations of proximity, not based on strategic interest but trustful affinity.   

2030 is yesterday, it is today and it is tomorrow – a perpetually moving target whose distance is measured at the crossroads of disciplinary convergences and the multiplicity of further horizons we create for ourselves towards the goal of even global growth. 

Beatrice Leanza

Creative Director 2030 journal

Beijing, June 2017