Heavy Air

Today’s rapidly-growing Chinese megacities represent a breathtaking urban future. Skyscrapers, shopping malls, and massive infrastructure projects continue to appear in quick succession—eradicating the traditional neighborhoods, streets, and farmland that lie in their wake. Fueled by the vision of a “Chinese Dream” promulgated by President Xi Jinping, this rapid urbanization has been accompanied by significant environmental problems, including chronic smog from industrial emissions and an expanding dustbowl.

This problematic condition raises new questions for architecture, such as what role buildings can play in environmental remediation, or in protecting their inhabitants from atmospheric pollution. In China, architects are increasingly focused on the building envelope as a site of environmental agency that is capable of ameliorating unhealthy conditions while exhibiting new forms of distinctly-Chinese material expression. The housing sales pavilion—a provocative program typology that has gained recent notoriety in China—will serve as a programmatic focus through which to explore issues of environmental building strategies and models of future living.

ARCH 8255: Graduate Architectural Design III. Graduate design studio, required M.Arch course (6 credits). University of Minnesota School of Architecture.

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