Monumental City

Beijing is a city of monuments.

The vastness of the city is punctuated with grand architectural marvel. Separate only by time and distance, numerous structures stand sybolically of a common inginuity. Scale and presense contribute to a saturated experience. With each long repetitive step through Beijing, we laborioulsy cross time with the projected idea of a place amitious to construct a city worth preserving.

Condencity_26 reclaimed city

The Dashanzi Art District (also known as Factory 798) in Beijing is a decommisioned military complex and now home to a thriving artists community in Beijing. The sprawling district of long vacant factories inspires imagination and exhibits profound spaces once host to a Soviet Socialist work/live model and utilitarian architectural expression. In recent years government interest has taken control of the vast network of factory buildings with individual spaces being rented out by artists and exhibiting galleries (to the protest of some).

798 Space



Condencity_25 temporary city

The recently completed Prada Transformer in Seoul is Rem Koolhaas's latest installation. Sited on the grounds of the historic Gyeonghui Palace in Seoul, the Transformer is an exercise in urban transformation. The idea behind the pavilion is to exhibit three different programs (fashion, film, and art) spanning an approximate three month period. With each new show the pavilion is rotated by crane, transforming the tent like structure to suitable position for each of the planned events.

I visited the Transformer on a bright Saturday morning recently. It is a simple steel structure wrapped in a tight elastic, translucent membrane similar to that used in industrial machine storage. On this day the taught fabric shimmered and danced in the brilliant mid-spring sun. The pavilion lightly touches down with steel pin connections onto concrete footings, mindful of the historic temple grounds close behind.

Like so much of Seoul, the installation represents a willingness of change and progress; a delicate balance of fragile history with the reality of today's unlimited possibility.

To read more about the project visit the official website: Prada Transformer Seoul