URBAN GORILLA

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USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

Our Weekend

Week End. (Caution, spoiler alert! but you should still watch it). Where to begin…is it the opening conversations? The honking horns leading to an amazing array of activities captured in continuous shot? Better yet the people having lunch while just a few cars down a disastrous car crash with plenty of dead bodies strewn along the ground.  Let’s not forget the murder of the…. And of course it could only end with the main characters being captured by hippie cannibals, the killing of one, and asking for seconds. Absurd. Yet an interesting commentary on Parisian life at the time.

So cut a few weeks later to our weekend. Our absurd moments: being woken up and told that we might have to walk the rest of the way to the nunnery because if we stay on the bus the weight could make it fall into a ditch. Excuse me? Give me a second, please, to wrap my head around that one. Next, entering a small town and being told that we can’t exit the bus for some untold reason. Is that because we would scare the locals or they would scare us, or is it something more sinister than that? I’m still not sure about that one. Even more our little trip to Dean Ma’s father house and driving amongst rows and rows of trees, reminiscent of many scenes from WeekEnd. Yet instead of bodies we saw domestic life such as corn being laid out to dry, chickens walking in front yards, the occasional goat, and people walking by and casting a quizzical eye at the brocade of cars. It did not help that we were a spectacle ourselves. A truck full of ethnically diverse men is sure to cause a stir in rural China. And that was snippets of our day. I am sorry to disappoint you though; it did not end with cannibalistic hippies. It ended quite peacefully with wine, cheese, and crackers. Thank goodness.

While standing at the new location for Dean Ma’s winery you are given amazing views of the valley below and stitched within that view is an overpass standing in the foreground. After further inquiry you learn that this is the beginning of a high speed rail between Shanghai and Xi’an. And here begins my commentary. What possibilities does the new high speed rail hold for Xi’an? We were told about the big plans for the area; becoming something of a mini Napa Valley within the countryside of China. This then opened up the question of what this small quiet town on the outskirts of Xi’an can become. The contradiction that I am having is wouldn’t development mean a better life for the locals within this town? But then again what is a better life? Not to say that this place would become a mini Xi’an, it will always be a bit quieter then that. I can only look at what I have seen and experienced and envision the future. Will it be a place for the affluent to take a trip during the weekend and sip some wine while looking over the hills filled with a new crop of grapes while discussing a future investment? Will that road leading to father house become paved with new developments? Or can it still remain a sleepy town where one enjoys the relief from the mental strain of the city? Only one can guess at this point but I must say I hope for the later.

– Precious

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AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Director:
Andrew Liang
Instructors:
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Students:
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu

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