USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

Pudong’s Market Presence

                Looking at Shanghai’s economic growth over the past decade in concurrence with the high-rises of the Pudong district, one can cannot help but wonder whether the architecture is a result of the market or the market a result of the architecture. The answer is both.

Shanghai is under a state of rapid development. Within the course of one generation Pudong reinvented itself from an agrarian swampland to an economic powerhouse. At the forefront of this transformation is the development of new high-rises meant to accommodate a growing population of residents and investors. Shanghai is quickly moving toward modernization,  an idea that has sought to change the character of the city as a whole.

Historically, one of the driving factors in the idea of modernism is mechanization. Before the advent of industrialized machinery, diversity in products and information was easy to find. As the economic market developed, however, it became more dangerous for companies to invest on products that yielded different outcomes. As a result, companies favored concrete systems that endorsed uniformity. Thus, the era of the rationalized systems began.

The rationalized system was not only safe for investors, but served as a means to classify, standardize, and organize everything. It is in this process of classification that the fundamental nature of products, architecture, and cities became disjointed. The field of architecture, for example, was subdivided and categorized into its components. Consequently, urban planning, construction, and civil engineering became separate fields of study; leaving architecture under the catalog of stylistics.

The district of Pudong differs greatly in scale and land use to the old Shanghai model  across the Huangpu river. It is the resultant of separate fields of interest working together rationally to provide a product. Correspondingly, the end product appeals to neither a practical form or a stunning function. What is perhaps most important  to note is the secondary effects the rationalized system that built Pudong has influenced.

The rationalized system is simply the confirmation of the everyday choices that have already been made for us. In essence, the cycle is a simulated one: People develop needs which are superficially met by the system, which then develops more needs further perpetuating the cycle. The boundaries between life, media, and the consumer culture have been engineered and merged seamlessly into a single entity which is the everyday. Everyday activities such as eating, shopping, and consuming of information, are the underlying organism that keep the system in motion.

Fundamentally, the rationalized system is one that is constantly trying to quantify itself and does so through the everyday. Until recently, cities formed as a result people gathering and trading goods. Today, city formation is based on economics. Thus it stands to mention that Pudong was not only created to accommodate a growing middle class, but also as means of demonstrating the market’s presence in the city of Shanghai and the world.

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AAU FALL 2013:

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

Andrew Liang
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
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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