Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) is currently the only biennial exhibition in the world to be based exclusively on the set themes of URBANISM AND URBANIZATION. Co-organized by the two neighbouring and closely interacting cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, UABB situates itself within the regional context of the rapidly urbanizing Pearl River Delta, and focuses on globally common urban issues. It extensively communicates and interacts with the wider public and is presented using expressions of contemporary international visual culture.
From December 6th 2013 to February 28th 2014, the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB2013) will host a series of exhibitions merging architectural, socio-cultural, and artistic visions with the Pearl River Delta between the two cities. Two teams of curators and designers will revamp the two major venues – an abandoned Float Glass factory and a run-down factory near the ferry terminal – to address urbanization themes concerning Shenzhen and Hong Kong. UABB2013 is the most globalized event of its kind, aiming at bringing future global trends to both industry professionals and the greater public through combining the synergy of Western and Chinese architectural concepts.
Venue A – Urbanized Avant-garde
The curatorial team, led by Li Xiangning and Jeffrey Johnson, will create a six-part exhibition in a run-down factory near the Shekou Ferry Terminal, which, later on, will host national and regional pavilions from the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, USA, Canada, Mexico, Sweden, Italy, and Macau.
Venue B – What’s Old is New
Internationally renowned designer Ole Bouman and his team will be offering another viewpoint of an abandoned Float Glass factory through the theme “Biennale as risk”: giving a new purpose to industrial heritage. Creative stakeholders such as Droog Design, MoMA New York, The Netherlands Berlage Institute, and the 2014 Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition will present novel approaches on the themes urbanization and borders.
A major attraction of the 2013 Shenzhen Biennale, UABB (Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism /Architecture), is the creative and dramatic transformation of an old Shenzhen glass factory into one of the Biennale’s core venues for this year.
Spearheaded by Ole Bouman, the UABB’s curator and creative director, the project adhered to his manifesto statement of “Biennale as risk.” The revitalisation effort not only provides a unique and functional exhibition space for the Biennale but it reclaims a piece of heritage and history. As a broader objective, the makeover is also a step in redefining Shenzhen’s identity. In completing the urban intervention, Mr. Bouman now calls it a ‘Value Factory’ to manufacture ideas and knowledge.
Built in 1986, the former Guangdong Float Glass Factory had been derelict since 2009. The metamorphosis began in May as an international collaboration effort. At Mr. Bouman’s invitation, architectural and design firms from as far as India, Brazil and the Netherlands worked with Chinese design partners in a “Matchmaking Workshop” as different design teams paired off to execute their collaboration on various parts of the factory – from the entrance, storage facilities, the main hall and various silos. The transformation process was completed in only three months.
The revamped glass factory will not only be an exhibition showcase for the biennale’s three months, but it aims to serve as a facility for nurturing, and a source of, inspiration for the city hopefully for years to come.
Already, the ‘Value Factory’ appears to be achieving its goals, by developing strong alliances with partners both local, regional and from all over the world. Among them include globally renowned cultural institutions like Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), MAXXI, OMA, Droog Design, International Architecture Biennale of São Paulo, MIT, MoMA New York, and the Berlage.
As a venue for the Shenzhen’s UABB 2013, the old Guangdong Float Glass Factory, along with the other exhibition site the Shekou Ferry Terminal old warehouse, has elevated it from just design and architecture installations to a significant cultural and social event relevant to urban sustainability and regular citizens.
As Mr. Bouman declares in his manifesto, “(the biennale) is a vehicle for change, for real change. It produces leverage for alternative histories and a new future.” In short, the former glass turned ‘Value’ factory will strive to create value by preserving it.
Ole Bouman – Photo by Carel van Hees
Info and images courtesy of Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB)
Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism & Architecture 2013