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Reuse, Renew, Recycle highlights a new generation of Chinese architects – ArchPaper

Reuse, Renew, Recycle: Recent Architecture from China, highlights a new generation of Chinese architects and their adaptive reuse projects.

Reuse Renew Recycle: Recent Architecture from China is a new exhibition at the MoMA that highlights a growing trend towards smaller-scale and verncular design. (Photo by Robert Gerhardt/Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York)
Reuse Renew Recycle: Recent Architecture from China is a new exhibition at the MoMA that highlights a growing trend towards smaller-scale and verncular design. (Photo by Robert Gerhardt/Courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York)

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China has undergone the largest domestic migration in human history over the last half-century, as nearly 200 million people flooded into its great metropolises from the countryside. That shift, coupled with rapid economic growth, has fueled megaprojects of ever-increasing ambition and scale; a phenomenon exemplified by cities such as Shenzhen that practically sprouted up overnight. But while feverish development has been the predominant mode, there is a growing countertrend towards smaller-scale interventions that seek to engage with their local contexts and raise the bar for environmental stability. Reuse, Renew, Recycle: Recent Architecture from China, an exhibition currently on view at The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, sheds light on this young generation of Chinese architects and the craft behind their construction techniques and approaches to adaptive reuse.

The exhibition includes the work of Archi-Union Architects, including the Chi Se office space enclosed by a screen of recycled bricks. (Photo by Robert Gerhardt/Courtesy the MoMA)
The exhibition includes the work of Archi-Union Architects, including the Chi Se office space enclosed by a screen of recycled bricks. (Photo by Robert Gerhardt/Courtesy the MoMA)

The exhibition occupies the first-floor gallery of the recently opened Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed expansion, and that public-facing setting—it is visible from the street through expansive storefront windows—is fitting for the large-scale models, documentary footage, prints, and material samples that make up the show. While the case studies highlighted in the exhibition differ in scale and program, they all demonstrate a thoughtful and imaginative approach to contextual design.

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