The affinities between Chinese and African urbanism stand at the center of an upcoming exhibition at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City. “Facing East: Chinese Urbanism in Africa” opens at the downtown institution’s Kenmare Street headquarters on June 16th. Curated by Amsterdam-based journalist Michiel Hulshof and Shanghai-based architect Daan Roggeveen, “Facing East” investigates the impact of Chinese development on fast-growing African cities, and is built around personal stories of individuals involved in the urbanization process.
“China’s influence in Africa is growing quickly on many levels. All across the continent, Chinese companies are creating new highways, light rail systems, Special Economic Zones, and mass housing developments,” explains a statement from Storefront. “Cities have received brand new skylines ‘made in China': designed by Chinese architecture firms, financed by Chinese banks, and built by Chinese contractors. From foundational elements such as concrete, window frames, and fire extinguishers, to decorative ones such as carpets and curtains, many of the basic items used to construct these skylines have been sourced directly from China.”
The two curators travelled to six African cities to research the interplay between Chinese and African architects, urban planners, construction companies, developers, and individuals on the ground. “China’s influence in Africa often goes even further than what we perceive through the lens of the built environment,” the duo explains in the statement. “China’s state-owned CCTV Africa is broadcasting throughout the continent, and many African capitals have Confucius Institutes, in which an increasing number of African students are learning Mandarin Chinese.”
— Anna Kats (@coldwarcasual)
Image courtesy Storefront.