Dutch and Chinese architects’ designs for the ants tribe, The Netherlands
Curator: Ole Bouman
Co-curator: Jorn Konijn
Dutch architects have been active in the Chinese market ever since the opening up of the Chinese economy. What has been the effect of their presence in China for their practice and how did it affect their architectural language in this fascinating country? Have we seen a process of integration, or did their work by and large remain isolated? And if they worked together, did their common efforts lead to creating solutions for specific problems in Chinese society today?
In the exhibition Housing with a Mission, The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) tries to find an answer to these questions. The exhibition is showcasing a unique project in which the NAi brought five Dutch architecture offices together with five Chinese, to work on an actual project to be realised in Beijing by VANKE real estate developing. The NAi selected from the Netherlands NL Architects, Arons & Gelauff architects, NEXT architects, Barcode architects and KCAP. Counterparts from China were URBANUS, Standard architects, NODE, O-Office and CAFA University. These offices vary in scale, background, experience and working methods, but one thing they all share: a strong desire to contribute to the social challenges of their time. They all want to make an architecture of consequence. The ten architects have worked in complete equality to develop new concepts of housing for this group. All architects derive from different historical backgrounds. The Netherlands have a long and high quality tradition in social housing. In China social housing is understood in different terms and has also greatly developed over recent years. Housing with a Mission shows these historical traditions, its past, the present and the future.
This future is constructed by the ten selected firms. They are developing new housing for a group that is often overlooked in Chinese society: low income graduates, also known as ”ants tribe”. They are large in size, smart, talented and vocal: the future of China lies in their hands. Up till now this group often lives in poor circumstances. Good quality housing for this group is in many ways a priority for the Chinese government but also for project developers and for architects. Clearly, it’s an investment in the future of a peaceful society.
The exhibition Housing with a Mission focuses on the process of working together to find a common language, but also showcases the low living conditions in which low-income graduates are living today and what their improved housing of tomorrow might become.