B.A.S.E. 3.0 2008
P r o j e c t s
URBAN / RURAL Conundrums:
We are living in the world at a most incredible pivot point in human history at the beginning of the 21st century. For the first time ever, 50% of the human population is living in cities or urban centers. Several of the key project taken on by BASE 3.0 center on this condition.
1. The New Socialist Countryside and the Socialist New Village : Urban Rural Conundrums
Through BASE 3.0 member Sen Liu, we have the opportunity to work with the Beijing University of Technology on the design for a Socialist New Village.The most recent Five Year Plan for the Peoples Republic of China, under the leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, placed several key issues at the forefront. One of the most important of these issues is the need to elevate the conditions of Chinas rural population. The plan specifically admits that farmers and the rural population have been largely ignored in favor of developing cities and associated industries and economies. The program in the new Five Year Plan for the New Socialist Countryside poses an exciting alternative for this population of 650 million.As a way to curb and even reverse rural to urban migration (and the quite well known associated problems), the New Socialist Countryside proposes an alternative "city", and suggests that "city-ness" might be brought to bear on a new form of "dispersed" urbanism formed from clusters of small villages uniting into larger units. The challenge of our project is to design in such a way to capture this exciting alternative.
2. Caochangdi Village : Off Center Peoples Space in Early 21st Century Republic of China
This summer, BASE will work toward furthering the work done last summer on Caochangdi and working with Robert Bernell and Timezone8 publishers to put it into book form.
A brief introduction to the CCD project......
In a pocket defined by the intersection of the massive state planned fifth ring road and airport expressway that will take visitors into the city of Beijing and to the "One World, One Dream" Olympic venues this August, sits the Urban Village of Caochangdi. Screened from view by swaths of some of the 3 billion trees now being planted in Beijing as part of a Central Party urban afforestation mandate, Caochangdi is a thriving early 21st century urban space of mostly illegal structures being built by entrepreneurial farmers and contemporary art dealers and artists.Change has been inscribed upon the Village since its origins as a wild grassland (Caochangdi translates from Mandarin as grassland), and then having undergone a series of extreme changes during its subsequent subjection to the forces at play during the imperial and cultural revolution eras, the Deng reform period, and now as a home to a mix of farmers, taxi and other odd industry people, and the international contemporary art mob.
Caochangdi tells a specific story of itself and its 4,000 - 7,000 mostly illegal residents, but it also has embedded within it the problems and possibilities of urban space as it occurs in this most unique and pivotal point in human history as increasing rural-urban migrations have produced, for the fi rst time ever, a fi fty-fi fty split in urban and rural inhabitants. Watching Caochangdi over the course of the past two years has been like looking at a mad fast forward video revealing not only the mechanisms of urban change as they are occurring in early 21st century Asia, but also the human and spatial consequences of this change.
3. Huang Cun Village, Zhong Xian Di
The work in the southern rural Village of Huang Cun near Huangshan in Anhui province will provide a view of "pure" and traditional rural life. Only the marked absence of young adults signals the presence of burgeoning urbanism, the cities having absorbed them as migrant labor in construction, factory, and domestic work. For more on this, see the DEEP READS project below.
A Chinese Perspective 3-De.FAULT :
3-De.FAULT will examine Chinese perspective/modes of projection as a challenge to default projection mandated by 3-D current software.
Through critical observation of classical and contemporary Chinese art works, this course aims to reveal that there is a distinctly Chinese vision of space in the plastic arts, and that this Chinese quality of space continues to assert itself even in the most contemporary work that bears no overt reference to classical Chinese art.
Beyond a refutation of the crude fallacy that Chinese parallel perspective was a "primitive" technique that failed to develop into a more "advanced" single line perspective until contact with the West, the class will discover how parallel perspective was an effective means to reflect Chinese metaphysics.
Drew Hammond with Robert Mangurian, Mary-Ann Ray, Ann Bergren, and Philip Lee
OUT/IN-sourcing - BASEline :
OUT/IN-sourcing - BASEline with engage in the designing and prototyping of things in factories and shops, making things with the hands and tools at BASE.
As a part of an ongoing line of research, prototyping, and production, useful objects such as furniture and clothing are studied, designed and materialized in collaboration with the multitude of trades at work in China such as the Tangshan Porcelain Factory, local welders, and Caochangdis Garment Factory.
BASEline things are directly functional, somewhat primal or essential, economical, and often witty. Some of the design tactics BASEline employs include acting (designing) impulsively, deep research, scalar shifts (the "Alice through the Looking Glass effect") material shifts or exchanges ("skeuomorphs"), tweaking ready-mades, and non-tweaked ready-mades (found objects edited from the world and packaged with the attached story/history of that object).
DEEP READS :
DEEP READS involves documenting, measuring, and "deep reading" architecture in China such as the KMH Socialist Housing Block and Zhong Xian Di the 17th century Huizhu masonry and wood mansion.
Working with the Peabody Essex Museum in Huang Cun Huizhou Village, BASE has been charged with a measuring project to document the 27 room 17th century Huizhou palace and parts of the surrounding village fabric. Not only will we be measuring in the house, we will be living in it.
Working remotely with Robert Adams who will be in contact with Richard Tursky and Sen Liu, a deep read of the "Karl Marx Hof" massive Soviet Block Housing Project at the intersection of the second ring road and the airport expressway across the way from Steven Holls MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) Housing project.
CHINESE CINEMA and the CITY : Re-Theorizing the (Chinese) City through Cinema
In the past 15 years, Chinese Cinema has come into its own. Ai Weiwei (across the street) was originally trained at the avant garde Beijing Film Academy. BASE has a small but decent collection of films, and Drew Hammond knows much of this film, especially its relationship to mid and late 20th century European (especially Italian) and American film. There is the possibility we can lure our friend Pellegrino Dacierno (Drews teacher at Columbia) from New York on a lark to come and do a two day blitz on Chinese Cinema, and even take it to dealing with the relationship between architecture and film.
At a minimum, we should organize a film series to be held either in our space (big white wall) or in the courtyard (which will require a scaffold like structure to hold the screen - Olympic ready!) - see BRNING [M] EATS and FLICKERING LIGHT below.
B.A.S.E. Itself :
Working on the BASE space is an ongoing project. In the first two years, the space has come a long way. We need to continue the progress. Immediate projects at hand are:
1. Complete the "Howard Hughes" west stair.
2. Complete the ceilings for the two bathrooms - probably translucent glass with some simple detailing.
3. Perhaps something for the edge of the mezzanine, ideally like some strand of DNA accommodating books, people, speakers, a projection booth for the north wall, and other oddities.
4. Some furnitures of various sorts and for various uses. We have the measured drawings for Galileo/s lecture pulpit in Padova.
5. Having cut some of the translucent white glass (broken doors) and working out a detail for covering the SHAC pits in the floor slab.
TALKING HEADS :
If a small group of interested BASEers take this on, we can produce a smashing series of heads to talk to us and the invited public on subjects of architecture, urbanism, landscape, art,
BURNING [M] EATS / FLICKERING LIGHTS :
Fridays at BASE traditionally end with some [m]eats on the fire, some pijou on ice, and some Flickering Light on screens. This is a time that we invite guests from people we have met along the way in our adventures in Beijing and beyond. Each week, one of the work units will host BURNING [M] EATS / FLICKERING LIGHTS by designing a menu and a film screening. This year, the films will focus on the BASE Project for CHINESE CINEMA and the CITY : Re-Theorizing the (Chinese) City through Cinema. The menu is up for grabs.
VIRTUAL BASE :
The virtual component of BASE, meaning its websites - www.basebeijing.cn and www.base706.org - and blog - basebeijing.blogspot.com - are sorely in need of re-vitalization and action.