Over the years, China has become a major construction site for contemporary architecture. A large number of architects from all over the world have been engaged to renew Chinese cities. While many interesting buildings have been constructed, the functionality of these fast-growing cities in terms of urbanism remains to be seen. Of Finnish architects, most visibility in China has been achieved by Pekka Salminen. His office is involved in a range of projects, one of which the Wuxi Grand Theatre – their first landmark job in China – is presented in this issue. Ole Bouman, the Dutch Director of the Shenzhen Architecture Biennale, writes about the event that brought together international actors and made its own contribution to Shenzhen’s development. The Museum of Finnish Architecture also took part in the biennale with its ‘Re-creation’ installation.
Construction in China reflects the globalisation of architecture. Yet globalisation has many faces. Helena Sandman writes about the Laufen Manifesto drafted by architects from Europe, Africa and other parts of the world. The Manifesto aims at promoting a human design culture and advancing ecological, social and aesthetic equality on a global scale. Too many people are compelled to live in abject conditions. Architecture can help counter alienation.
The Wuxi Grand Theatre is located on the shore of a lake. To the Finns, it is a familiar concept, though mostly from the holiday home context. As well as the opera house, the current issue presents two different houses also built close to water in Finland.