In July 23rd, the‘C.A.N.’ design exhibition opened in Shenzhen which invited teachers and students from 12 famous schools around the world. With the subject ‘exploring intermediate zone’, it was hosted by Zhonghangli City and designed by @ALL together with MAX office. The most important theme of this program is about the development pattern and future of the intermediate zone between city and village. The design concept like ‘Village in the city’, ‘From the giant blocks to agricultural area’, ‘Strategy of embedding urban and rural construction’ concentrate on ‘intermediate zone’ not only reflects the young people’s concerning for the trend of times and their yearn for better lives, but also indicates the future trend of urban and rural development.
‘C.A.N.’ is proposed by the famous Chinese architect, Qingyun Ma. It represents culture, agriculture and nature which aims at bringing in agriculture as the main power in order to explore the symbiosis system between civilization and nature. As the first party of ‘C.A.N.’, Zhonghangli City corporate with Qingyun Ma and bring this design feast to Shenzhen, the ‘Design City’. Based on Shenzhen’s advantages of city location, human resources and business, it could better arouse people’s thought and attention for the ‘intermediate zone’ between city and village.
It is worth mentioning that ‘C.A.N.’ is not a Utopia on the blueprint, its motive power is reflected in real architectural projects. Among the huge amount of design works, the project ‘Rural Urban Prototype’ of USC studied Xingziguizong region at the foot of Lu Mountain. They tried to introduce the elements including architecture, agriculture, traditional folk art in order to active the local culture and tourism resources which could help explore the development pattern of rural and urban combination. Gary Paige, professor of USC architecture department, said that ‘During the process of reforming, we applied addition and subtraction. We suggest removing the things that are not belong to the local culture but introducing the folk custom which is much more related. Another way is that we can replace them with new structures which could help improve both their usefulness and the existing features.’ In June, Gary Paige came with the USC students to Guizong area in Lu Mountain, China. They reconstructed the local adobe houses to strengthen the living comfort while remaining their original appearance maximally.
In order to respond to the attention of cultural elements of ‘C.A.N.’, ‘Chinese Culture Guardian’ Mr. Linxiang Guan held a splendid folk art exhibition at the same time. The intangible cultural heritages ‘Ruichang Bamboo Weaving’, ‘Xia Dynasty Fabric’, ‘Nuo Dance’, ‘Lian Si Paper’ with thousands years of history were displayed on the same stage. They showed Chinese people’s unique culture and lifestyle from an ancient civilization. Shuya Song, the successor of ‘Xia Dynasty Fabric’, showed this artistry in a special way during the exhibition. Watching the pure white ramie yarn poured from the loom, people still think that this spotless silk is so exquisite even under the modern perspective, but the truth is that it has a history over 1600 years and it was sold to France, Korea, Japan and Southeast Area during its golden age. Nowadays, because of the rising price of materials and the lack of human resources, ‘Xia Dynasty Fabric’ is facing the threat of lost. So protecting and inheriting folk arts, respecting craftsman’s work is not only the requirement for cultural identity but also the foundation for future development of precision manufacturing.
As the sponsor and designer, the special guest Gary Paige emphasized that ‘Different from single solution or vision project, ‘C.A.N.’ is actually the highlights of methodology because of the diversity of ‘Intermediate Zone’. We hope that we can create a serious discussion platform for this subject which could be the catalyst for the innovation model for sustainable development.’ As an advanced and experimental theory, ‘C.A.N.’ was discussed widely during the 2014 Venice biennial exhibition and 2015 Bauhaus seminar.
Zhonghangli City has been cooperating with ‘C.A.N.’ all the time, as the practice party, they always push forward the project to make the theory happen. ‘Lu Mountain Guizong Project is Zhonghangli City’s masterpiece, as the object of study, it brings us abundant thoughts and association. As the developer of this project, we look forward to the cooperation between educational circles and business circles and we hope that it could bring in new ideas for the future development of urban and rural area.’ Mr. Nan Xiao said, the executive director of Zhonghangli City.
C.A.N. aims at exploring the symbiosis between civilization and nature. The modernization and globalization are pushing the civilization and nature in adverse directions. We have met serious consequence during the 20th century because of this extreme situation especially in the fast developing countries like China. In order to reverse this trend, we must redefine and introduce a third character, agriculture (including agricultural economic formation). Agriculture is the catalyst for regulating and combining civilization and nature: it improves civilization by nature and use civilization to nourish nature. So C.A.N. focuses on the beauty of nature and the goodwill of humans, which represents a new era’s great ambition and a better future. It consists of many organizations and combines researches and developments which is not only an academic activity but also an entrepreneur’s mental enterprise.
C.A.N.@Venice exhibition opened in 2014 September 10th in the China pavilion of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennial Exhibition. The exhibition answered to the chief curator Koolhaas’s proposal ‘fundamentality’ and rethought Chinese agriculture in 100 years. At the same time, Qingyun MA’s project ‘Yuchuan Chateau’ was displayed together and started discussing C.A.N. from the practical aspects in order to reverse the critical situation. Qingyun Ma hoped that the exhibition could show the problems and crisis of Chinese agriculture to the world and he also hoped that more and more experts could join in the discussion to explore the solution to Agri-urbanism.