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Kongjian Yu in IFLA World Congress

Deen Sharp

LETTERS TO THE LEADERS OF CHINA: KONGJIAN YU AND THE FUTURE OF THE CHINESE CITY   Edited by Terreform  With contributions by Ai Weiwei, Thomas J. Campanella, Zhongjie Lin, Xuefei Ren, Peter G. Rowe, Michael Sorkin, Daniel Sui, Julie Sze, and Kongjian Yu

LETTERS TO THE LEADERS OF CHINA: KONGJIAN YU AND THE FUTURE OF THE CHINESE CITY

Edited by Terreform

With contributions by Ai Weiwei, Thomas J. Campanella, Zhongjie Lin, Xuefei Ren, Peter G. Rowe, Michael Sorkin, Daniel Sui, Julie Sze, and Kongjian Yu

Kongjian Yu will be presenting Letters to the Leaders of China at the IFLA World Congress 2019 (International Federation of Landscape Architects), Breakout Session 1.6 — Literature Cafe / Wednesday, September 18. Torghjørnet  17:30 - 19:00.

The session will be moderated by Annemarie Lund, Landscape Architect, Editor-in-Chief Emerita LANDSKAB, Denmark

He joins book presenters:

Marc Treib, University of California, Berkeley, United States: Doing Almost Nothing. The Landscapes of Georges Descombes (2018) / Pietro Procinai and the Landscape of Modernism (2017) / Austere Gardens (2016).

Gareth Doherty, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, United States: Paradoxes of Green (2017) / Is Landscape…? (2015)

Martin Prominski / Hille Seggern, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany: Design Research for Urban Landscapes. Theories and Methods (2019).

Bianca Maria Rinaldi / Puay Yok Tan, University of Torino, Italy: Urban Landscapes in High-Density Cities, Parks, Streetscapes, Ecosystems (2019).

Jenny Osuldsen, NMBU/Snøhetta, Norway: Outdoor Voices (Outdoor Matters) (2019).

Anne Katrine Geelmuyden / Marius Fiskevold, Sweco Norge AS, Norway: Arcadia Updated (2018)

Karsten Jørgensen, NMBU, Norway: Teaching Landscape 1 + 2 (2019) / Defining Landscape Democracy (2018)

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Kongjian Yu will also be be speaking at IFLA Breakout Session 2.12 Eastern Perspectives —Common Ground in China and Japan:

As rapid urbanisation in Asia alters the landscape, so does our relationship with the landscape change, offering up new opportunities but also dislocation of communities from the land. These effects are exacerbated by climate change and an increased reliance on technology to make our cities liveable.

This session illustrates the importance of landscape architecture in managing change. It explores the importance of people to place and the relationships between communities and natural systems and processes. Faced with the post-industrial transformation of manufacturing it examines how people and communities can transform post-industrial inner city brownfield’s sites to realise new communities and dynamic places.

The session will be moderated by James Hayter, IFLA president. Other speakers include Bin Li, Research Fellow, The Oslo School Of Architecture And Design; Xia Liu, Graduate, Tongji University; Binyi Liu, Professor, Tongji University; Ni Yan, First Author, Beijing Forestry University; Hiroe Yoshida, Principal Architect
3--lab; Yichen Zhu, Tongji University. Programme here.

Deen Sharp in Public Books

Nikhil Sambamurthy

Terreform co-director, Deen Sharp, in Public Books, “The World the Gulf has Built.”

Despite the fragility of the alliance, the term “GCC” is often utilized to discuss these six countries together, because of their shared historical geography; cultural and religious mores; governance structures (characterized by authoritarian monarchies and highly personalized rule); large migrant worker population; rapid urbanization; and vast revenues generated from oil and gas. It is all too easy to focus on everything that is exceptional about the GCC—the record-breaking towers and shopping malls, the three-hundred-island real estate archipelago trying to replicate the world. But this reasoning does much to cover up the GCC’s ordinariness, its multiple connections to everyday lives around the world.

How exceptional can a region that produces so much of the energy that powers contemporary capitalism be?

“It’s long past time that observers of the GCC undo their view of the region as exceptional and recognize it as the global power broker it has become.”

Proyecto Helicoide at Seoul Biennale

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

Celeste Olalquiaga, Director of Proyecto Helicoide and Downward Spiral co-editor, exhibition at the 2019 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.

At a moment when cities are increasingly unequal and segregated it asks if they can continue to be perceived as collective spaces and what tools or strategies can be used to transform cities into collective spaces. (E-flux)

Learn more about the “Cities Exhibition”. Proyecto Helicoide > Infrastructure > Caracas, Venezuela.

#ICYMI Olalquiaga in CNN:

Once hailed as the would-be icon of Venezuela's fast paced modernity, El Helicoide's downward spiral sadly represents the collapse of a national dream built on untenable social divisions.

One can only hope that both country and building will rise from their current situation and meet the challenges of a country whose vast oil reserves still hold an unfulfilled potential. For this to happen, justice must be served for the country's political prisoners, but also for its ever-present masses of urban poor. (CNN: “El Helicoide: The futuristic wonder that now sums up Venezuela's spiral into despair,” 2019).

1-Maqueta.-Folleto-“El-Helicoide...“-1956.PHFAU_-1024x647.jpg

Folleto El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya: Centro Comercial y Exposición de Industrias, 1956.

Learn more and download the table of contents of Downward Spiral: El Helicoide’s Descent from Mall to Prison.

Learn more about Proyecto Helicoide, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the architectural, cultural and social value of El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya in Caracas, Venezuela.

Learn more about Proyecto Helicoide, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the architectural, cultural and social value of El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya in Caracas, Venezuela.

Terreform Urban Research Receives Graham Foundation Grant 2019

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

Terreform has received a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for its imprint, Urban Research.

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation has released a list of organizations that will receive its coveted Production and Presentation Grants to pursue architecture-related projects this year.

In line with the Graham Foundation’s mission to “foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture,” awardees will receive assistance with production-related expenses for a variety of undertakings that aim to enrich architectural discourse, including films, publications, exhibitions, and lectures. Final decisions were made on the basis of four criteria: originality, feasibility, capacity, and potential for impact.

More from The Architect’s Newspaper.

See list of projects UR (Urban Research) 2019.

Anas Awad, "The Merchandise Tunnel," illustration, 2019. In "UR13: Open Gaza: Four Tunnels" by Bin Al-Sirhid (Pseudonym).

Anas Awad, "The Merchandise Tunnel," illustration, 2019. In "UR13: Open Gaza: Four Tunnels" by Bin Al-Sirhid (Pseudonym).

Urban Research (UR), the imprint of Terreform, publishes progressive books about cities and their futures.


Michael Sorkin at the Green Living Room - West Woodlawn

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

Michael Sorkin was at the soft opening of the Green Living Room in West Woodlawn, Chicago. Located in 6431 S. Cottage Grove Avenue, the Green Living Room is the result of the work and dedication of Naomi Davis, founder of community nonprofit, Blacks In Green:

Blacks in Green (BIG) serves as a bridge and catalyst among communities and their stakeholders in the design and development of green, self-sustaining, mixed-income, walkable-villages in communities owned and populated by African Americans. In these places, every household can walk-to-work, walk-to-shop, walk-to-learn, walk-to-play, and neighbor dollars circulate to reduce greenhouse gases.

“Woodlawn’s new coffee shop teaches residents about sustainability, green neighborhoods” by Margaret Tazioli for  Curbed Chicago .

“Woodlawn’s new coffee shop teaches residents about sustainability, green neighborhoods” by Margaret Tazioli for Curbed Chicago.


Sorkin shared his housing design and collaborative journey with Davis at the opening. Learn more about Terreform’s work with BIG and Chicago on our South Side Stories project page.

Deen Sharp in Progress in Human Geography

Elisabeth Weiman

Terreform co-director, Deen Sharp, traces how the field of regional geography/area studies (focusing on Middle East studies) drifted away from the discipline of geography. He asserts that area studies’ milieus can ‘diffract’ geographical categories and create new possibilities for geographical knowledge production.

After decades of geography and area studies drifting apart, I argue there has been an area studies turn in geography. The long divergence between the two, however, has resulted in a certain misunderstanding by geographers of what area studies scholarship is and what this field can contribute to the discipline. Area studies should not be considered as an approach that merely concentrates on the representation of difference but rather as a milieu in which difference is practiced and geographical concepts can be ‘diffracted’. Area studies can offer geography new ways to think about its place in, and entanglement with, the world.

Keywords: area studies, Cold War, Middle East geography, new materialism, post-colonial theory, representation, War on Terror

PDF. Sharp, D. (2019). Difference as practice: Diffracting geography and the area studies turn. Progress in Human Geography, 43(5), 835–852. https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132518788954


Kongjian Yu featured in WEF

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

“This man is turning cities into giant sponges to save lives.” - Kongjian Yu, featured in World Economic Forum.

And it all began in just one Chinese city, 20 years ago.

Today, 250 places in the country are working with Kongjian and his team, as well as urban areas everywhere from the US and Russia to Indonesia. — By Joe Myers, WEF

Learn more about Kongjian Yu, his life, work, and thoughts from Urban Research’s latest UR08: Letters to the Leaders of China: Kongjian Yu and the Future of the Chinese City (2018), which excerpts and updates Kongjian Yu’s 2003 classic text, The Road to Urban Landscape: A Dialogue with the Mayors, and contains additional, previously unpublished letters to high-ranking officials across the country, including President Xi Jinping.

Excerpts from selected reviews:

Through the letters, essays, and lectures, one gets a sense of how much Yu cares — and how driven he is to undo the unsustainable development patterns that repeat the same destructive errors made in the West over the past 50 years. — BY Jared Green for The American Society of Landscape Architects, The DIRT

Following them are essays by such academics as Thomas J. Campanella, Zhongjie Lin, and Peter G. Rowe. Concluding the book are an interview with Ai Weiwei and maps that show the remarkable extent of Turenscape's projects for Chinese cities -- 48 in Qinhuangdao alone (!), the city where the famous Red Ribbon Park is located. — BY John Hill, A Daily Dose of Architecture.

A testament to Kongjian Yu’s work but also an inspiring manifesto for contemporary urbanism, if not also for human survival more broadly.

–James Corner, Field Operations

Letters to the Leaders of China is edited by Terreform, with contributions by Ai Weiwei, Thomas J. Campanella, Zhongjie Lin, Xuefei Ren, Peter G. Rowe, Michael Sorkin, Daniel Sui, Julie Sze, and Kongjian Yu

ASLA 2014 Professional General Design Honor Award. Slow Down: Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park. Turenscape / Kongjian Yu

ASLA 2014 Professional General Design Honor Award. Slow Down: Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park. Turenscape / Kongjian Yu


Letters to the Leaders of China was included in the American Society of Landscape Architects - Best Books of 2018.

Listen to Kongjian Yu interviewed by GSAPP MSAUD student Angela Crisostomo in advance of his Kenneth Frampton Endowed Lecture at Columbia University.


Shifting Gears

Deen Sharp

We emerge from the doldrums of summer and shift gears full speed ahead! Excited to share our progress and projects — none of which would have been possible without your support.

Syria Unsettled artwork courtesy of Christine Gedeon. The Seven Fountains Square, digital drawing, pencil, and tape on archival paper. Series: Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction. 2017.

Click here for full version.

Studio Summers - Oculus

Deen Sharp

Happy to report that the studio was featured in successive summer issues in the Oculus, AIA New York’s quarterly print publication.

This year’s issue, “The Inclusive City,” includes the exhibition and competition, “Big Ideas for Small Lots” and features Sorkin Studio’s winning entry: Greenfill: House as Garden.

Last year’s summer issue, “New York: Past, Present, and Future” celebrated the AIA Conference 40th anniversary and its conference ‘return’ to NYC. It included Terreform’s New York City (Steady) State project as well as Michael Sorkin’s op-ed: Sauve Qui Peut "Everyone for themselves!" the dystopian destiny of an unsustainable city.

Learn more from visual links below:

Celeste Olalquiaga - Las Ruinas Modernas en la Era Digital

Nikhil Sambamurthy

Este curso investiga la relevancia de las ruinas industriales y modernistas en la cultura hipermoderna. Ésta las invisibiliza y a la vez idealiza como restos de una era pre-tecnológica. Analizando casos específicos de abandono, preservación y recuperación de ruinas modernas en América Latina, el curso propone un marco teórico para pensar el tiempo y el espacio modernos a través de la materialidad histórica y específica de las ruinas. More information.

Ruinas Modernas - Celeste Olalquiaga

DOWNWARD SPIRAL: EL HELICOIDE'S DESCENT FROM MALL TO PRISON

Editors: Celeste Olalquiaga and Lisa Blackmore

Contributors: Pedro Alonso, Carola Barrios, Ángela Bonadies, Bonadies & Olavarría, Rodrigo Blanco Calderón, René Davids, Liliana De Simone, Luis Duno-Gottberg, Diego Larrique, Vicente Lecuna, Engel Leonardo, Albinson Linares, Sandra Pinardi, Iris Rosas, Alberto Sato, Elisa Silva, Federico Vegas, Jorge Villota. Designed by Álvaro Sotillo and Gabriella Fontanillas (VACA).

Downward Spiral is published by Terreform Urban Research in collaboration with Proyecto Helicoide and support from Archivo Fotografía Urbana and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

UR author Sereypagna Pen at TAK Berlin

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

Sereypagna Pen, co-author of our forthcoming Graham-funded book Genealogy of Basaac, will be a featured panelist in the public prelude to the project “Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism”.

Encounters with Southeast Asian Modernism sheds light on the history, significance and future of modernism in selected cities of Southeast Asia in the context of the Bauhaus centenary 2019. With partners in Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Singapore and Yangon, Encounters explores the impact of modernism at the crossroads between early globalisation, local conditions, and the search for an own identity, starting with the period of upheaval that accompanied the transition to independence after colonial times.

Full panel list:

Avianti Armand, architect, Avianti Armand Studio, curator, architectural scholar, Jakarta, Indonesia

Puay-Peng Ho, Professor, Head of Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore

Sereypagna Pen, architect, urban researcher, Executive Director of The Vann Molyvann Project, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Pwint, Professor, Deputy Head of Department of Architecture, Yangon Technical University, Myanmar

farid rakun, artist, researcher and instigator, ruangrupa, Jakarta, Indonesia

Setiadi Sopandi, architect, Indra Tata Adilaras Architects, curator, architectural scholar, Jakarta, Indonesia

Shirley Surya, Curator for Design and Architecture, M+ museum for visual culture, Hong Kong

Lyno Vuth, artist, curator, Artistic Director of Sa Sa Art Projects, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Johannes Widodo, Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore

Win Thant Win Shwin, architect, planner, lecturer at the Department of Architecture, Mandalay Technological University, Myanmar

The panel will be moderated by Ute Meta Bauer, Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and Eduard Kögel, curator, architectural scholar, lecturer, Berlin.

Berlin / 30 August 2019 /

TAK at Aufbau Haus
Prinzenstrasse 85 F
10969 Berlin

Registration is free. See full schedule.

Images: Buddhist Library Yangon, National Sports Complex Phnom Penh, Hotel Indonesia Jakarta, Golden Mile Complex Singapore. Graphics: Alexander Lech

Sereypagna Pen is the director of the Vann Molyvann Project and urban researcher based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He has been awarded scholarships and fellowships including the Chevening Scholarship (2017–18), US/ICOMOS and East West Center (2015–16), Sa Sa Arts Project (2014–15), Asian Cultural Council (2012–13) and Parsons’ School of Constructed Environments as a visiting scholar (2012). Pen’s work on genealogy of urban form Phnom Penh, genealogy of Bassac, and Phnom Penh visions has been the subject of several exhibitions and presentations in Cambodia and selected venues in Asia, Australia, and the US such as Phnom Penh SaSa Bassac, Art Stage Singapore, Bangkok H Gallery, PARSONS the New School, Taipei Biennale 2016, and Sydney Biennale 2018. He has contributed essays to scholarly journals and books including Cité De L’architecture & Du Patrimoine (forthcoming 2019), Chulalongkorn University’s Nakhara: Journal of Environmental Design and Planning(2015), and Parsons Design Dialogues (2014).

Sereypagna Pen, Schizoanalysis of White Building, 2015, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. © Sereypagna Pen.   Genealogy of Bassac  presents a careful architectural study of an area in downtown Phnom Penh constructed on twenty-four hectares of landfill along the swampy floodplain of the Bassac River from the perspectives of artists and residents who have lived through five decades of genocide, exile, return, and eviction. It highlights a new creative generation in Phnom Penh whose emergence is a counter narrative to the current “casino urbanism” of the Cambodian regime.

Sereypagna Pen, Schizoanalysis of White Building, 2015, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. © Sereypagna Pen.

Genealogy of Bassac presents a careful architectural study of an area in downtown Phnom Penh constructed on twenty-four hectares of landfill along the swampy floodplain of the Bassac River from the perspectives of artists and residents who have lived through five decades of genocide, exile, return, and eviction. It highlights a new creative generation in Phnom Penh whose emergence is a counter narrative to the current “casino urbanism” of the Cambodian regime.

On Lower Manhattan and Resiliency Projects - NYC

Hilary Huckins-Weidner

The latest issue of The Indypendent bravely tackles the rubberband ball of issues as the city proposes its $1.45 billion flood-mitigation plan, East Side Coastal Resiliency Project:

LES residents April Merlin (left) and Yvette Mercedes are helping to lead the charge to save the East River Park.Photo: Sue Brisk.

LES residents April Merlin (left) and Yvette Mercedes are helping to lead the charge to save the East River Park.Photo: Sue Brisk.

It raises questions about how other major coastal cities will respond to an escalating global climate crisis and to whose benefit; the legacy of housing segregation; the conflicting priorities of top-down city planning and neighborhood-based concerns; the values we assign private automobiles and mass transit; and the hollowed-out state of democracy in a New York where “the tale of two cities” persists.

Tom Angotti, UR author Zoned Out! Race, Displacement, and Urban Planning in New York City and professor emeritus at Hunter College, charges:

“This is about the consolidation in Lower Manhattan of a giant Noah’s Ark for the wealthy with beautiful waterfront views while the outer boroughs get flooded,” he told The Indypendent. There will only be a place for public housing, he added, “if there are opportunities for private investment.”

WATERPROOFING NEW YORK  Editors: Denise Hoffman Brandt and Catherine Seavitt Nordenson  Contributors: Lance Jay Brown; Nette Compton; Deborah Gans; Jeffrey Hou; Lydia Kallipoliti; Signe Nielsen; Kate Orff; Sandra Richter; Frank Ruchala Jr.; Thaddeus Pawlowski; Janette Sadik-Khan; Hilary Sample; Judd Schechtman; Gullivar Shepard; Michael Sorkin; Byron Stigge; Erika Svendsen, Lindsay Campbell, Nancy F. Sonti and Gillian Baine; Georgeen Theodore

WATERPROOFING NEW YORK

Editors: Denise Hoffman Brandt and Catherine Seavitt Nordenson

Contributors: Lance Jay Brown; Nette Compton; Deborah Gans; Jeffrey Hou; Lydia Kallipoliti; Signe Nielsen; Kate Orff; Sandra Richter; Frank Ruchala Jr.; Thaddeus Pawlowski; Janette Sadik-Khan; Hilary Sample; Judd Schechtman; Gullivar Shepard; Michael Sorkin; Byron Stigge; Erika Svendsen, Lindsay Campbell, Nancy F. Sonti and Gillian Baine; Georgeen Theodore

Earlier this year, the city proposed an East River extension to protect Lower Manhattan at a cost of $10 billion. UR co-editor of Waterproofing New York and Director of the Graduate Landscape Architecture at CCNY, Denise Hoffman Brandt, responded in a Salon article:

“Unless you’re going to surround Manhattan with a wall, the water is going to get in somewhere and in some kind of situation,” she said, asking why a more holistic, citywide solution was not being considered. “How’s it going to look when Lower Manhattan is high and dry and the rest of the city is flooded?”

Vanessa Keith, author of   2100: A Dystopian Utopia - The City After Climate Change     at CUNY  Climate Action Lab  (CAL). The event brought together “activists, researchers, and artists to reimagine climate politics through the lens of the city as both the frontline impact-zone and the potential source of grassroots, artistic, and scientific alternatives informed by the principles of climate justice, for A People’s Plan for Climate Action for NYC.”   Watch videos of the day long event, which included UR authors, Vanessa Keith and Tom Angotti, on the Center for the Humanities - CUNY website.

Vanessa Keith, author of 2100: A Dystopian Utopia - The City After Climate Change at CUNY Climate Action Lab (CAL). The event brought together “activists, researchers, and artists to reimagine climate politics through the lens of the city as both the frontline impact-zone and the potential source of grassroots, artistic, and scientific alternatives informed by the principles of climate justice, for A People’s Plan for Climate Action for NYC.”

Watch videos of the day long event, which included UR authors, Vanessa Keith and Tom Angotti, on the Center for the Humanities - CUNY website.