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Writings remind WHY we are working for it.

Author©Zhe Jin. All rights reserved


Fragments.Symbiosis.Dissolving City

When overlapping population increasing trend from 2000 to 2080 with other important indexes such as PPP, job opportunity, virtual water exchange and climate change vulnerability in the global scale, few region in the world has enough natural resource, capital and manpower to sustain a comprehensive growth by itself. Growth juxtaposes with declination globally and regionally.

The imbalanced distribution of material, capital and manpower is essential to reshape industrial development and the flows of exchange. It melts many cultural boundaries in global scale, but redraws conflicts in a micro scale. It may revert the regional trend of urbanization to de-urbanization. It stimulates design to dissolve controversies between urban, farming, industry, and landscape preservation, to face the common issues of limited natural resource, imbalanced distribution of capital and manpower.

A series of research and design has been directed under the model of Dissolving City.  It states to reshape fragmented sites and controversial elements, through symbiotic relationship of infrastructure, farming, landscape and social media.  “Big”, “medium” or “small” scale is apt to the specific site and cultural background. 


A new industrial era

From "The Saline De Chaux" to Apple's new "spaceship" campus in California, design of industrial city has evolved from Institution to Factory, from Factory to Campus. The representation of industrial setting has evolved from a leading driver of society to massive production, from massive production to intellectual creativity. Industrialization is circling to unfold a new era. A new relationship between production, environment, creativity, visual branding,  is defining new industrialization. 

In this era, technological development of 3D printing, recyclable materials and internet network will scale down the size of plants and makes "creating" and "producing" come closer to every day life and go farther to the space. In this era, the continuing technology development in micro level changes the way we see the world and ourselves, which influences how to design. Industrial site will not be agglomerated on the edge of cities. It is becoming the center of emerging city or scattering into the existing urban fabric. In both ways, industrial site will not be neglected. Will it be a new cultural icon? Will it be a new urban phenomena? They are not questions. They are happening.



Cities are readable in two currents: A City is formulating its identity by continually interacting with strangers to its clans. A City is continually classifying its heritages into a codified space, behavior, social discourse, etc. Both could become the other when they turn in cycle of civilization.


Edge Space

Does Space have edge? It shouldn't. But we would like to define the edge of space for security, territory and centralization. Edge versus center in many ways. Meanwhile, to find the controversies and ambiguities on the edge often leads to a jumping point of new development. 

Industrial space that has been left on the periphery is such a jumping point. The controversies between industrial site and existing urban fabric, the undefined interaction, the lack of strategy to sustain a continuing and symbiotic vitality are those challenges to unfold the space of industrial model in the new industrial era.


What's the urban cell to grow (or shrink)? 

Block is a planning measurement. Simply recognizing block as the cell of urban growth/shrinkage lays the issue of empty. Social, cultural and policy interventions matter. The most importance is human being's activities and interactions with the place. The observation on human gathering, activities and customs provides much more importance than the size of the site itself.



Authenticity is a genuine reaction, when the mind can selflessly and independently make observations in the world, when the mind can pierce smoke to sensitively catch the truth and delicately touch an unknown, a limit,  when it leads to the genuine design congruent with the mind to motivate a breakthrough. 

Being genuine is priceless. It is to give, not in the purpose to take. It's a natural gift.



A space circled by mirror curtain is reflective autonomy, where viewer sees self in wholeness and in thousands of reflect glass "kaleidoscopes". 

Mirror curtain wraps and defines this space. Three curved walls embedded with thousands of "kaleidoscopes" deepens the wholeness space and distributes the image of object-viewer. 

Standing in between mirror curtain and curved walls . "I" glimpse at mirror. "I" see "myself" in wholeness, and "I" also see thousands of pieces of "myself" scatter into "kaleidoscopes". 

The same person can be different from different perspectives. It's an opportunity to see truth: Those pieces are facts, but they are all just part of truth. 

The garden is reflective between viewer and object.


Fountain with no water

Water was soul to the site, reminiscent of a time being that never comes back. 

It’s a “watery city", although the original delicate network of canals has gone by a wind of high-tech industrial urban competition. In a decade, a town becomes a city; water farms become green gentrification. People miss what they’ve lost.

The site is one of those industrial campuses, segregated by empty green space and linear plantation as territory lines. The emotionless, bold cutting lines of landscape embody an ideology, being cut off from the past.  Longing for reminiscent of the past becomes an emotional search for familiarity and security in an unpredictable, ever-changing world. People look back and look for water feature to fill in the gap of buildings and the emptiness of the past.

The entrepreneur wanted a fountain at the border of his site, fronting the other segregated industrial campus.

I asked him if he liked Carl Bohm’s “The fountain”. 

"As a kid, when my piano teacher told me about it and how the performance could be, I was attached to it at once". I said, “ In the eyes of a seven-years-old, my teacher is elegant, strong, with soft voice. “ I continued, “She graduated from National Conservatory of music in the 1940s. Since 1957, she had left her favorite fountain garden, her favorite river, her hometown, and never returned, like your father.”

There's an image echoing in my mind: She made the music visible and I could see such a fountain in her childhood garden, secretly being revealed and alive with her bluish memory of her hometown. She said to me, “search deeply for one perception in another.” “ They always connect each other at some point, which channels to heart.” She inspired me to be aware of the surroundings, especially in chaos, and use perception to create the new order. 

“May we leave the melancholy of missing part in the past? And move on to create something new, something that evolves from current situation, something that echoes your perception of the past in a different way.” I chatted and he understood. There's resonance.

A land sculpture is drawn on edge of the industrial campus. Rhythm of water flows in visual sense. The order of fountain’s melody and its visual variety compose an open end. It welcomes constant changing surroundings to be part of the site’s evolution. It is an open language to the segregated industrial campuses.


Classic order or Romantic chaos

Sept 21-27, 2017

If the world exists in between Classic order and Romantic chaos, how are we dancing with both that embrace us all the time? The dance is inside all of us - with our past and present, with reason and irrationality, with thinking and feeling, with sobriety and enthusiasm.  

You could believe the world is ordered and governed by all rules, or think humanity is not generated by rules but born with high level of order and creation. We are balancing ourselves, and pursuing the high level of order regarding humanity through all life.

Everyone invents order as their own artist, based on perception of life. To evolve an order in disorder with perception to environment, time and emotion is how we dance. 

Here, the land sculpture is an order drawn on the edge of an industrial campus. People erased water patterns for development long ago. Now they are longing for a reminiscence of the past. 

The past is picked up, but in a different way to perceive it. I remembered how my childhood piano teacher inspired me to play the piece of fountain:" you got to express the visual happiness in the sense of piano sound." - to express one perception in another. Vice versa, here, the rhythm of water sound is in the visual sense. A reflection of the rhythm of the past is drawn in the order of melody and is visualized in romantic sobriety. The two perceptions dance together to reimagine past and present, reason and irrationality, thinking and feeling, sobriety and love.



Nov.16-17, 2017

Can arch dissolve borders? Maybe not. It may be able to frame alternative perspectives open to opposites.

If public mind is borderless, will there be borderless arch? Maybe not now. Arch itself is still a definition of security or demarcation of privacy. Public space is still defined by private borders. Although building envelope becomes interactive, photogenic and fully materialized, it seems circling to new Baroque. 

Without partitions, we enjoy seeing all exhibition in one continuous space in Frank Lloyd wright's Guggenheim. With walls, we concentrate on meditation with natural light in Tadao Ando's works of church. 

Without or with walls, border is still investigated by many public/private works. Today we use a different word interface. 

It seems inevitable to think of it here: referring to Laugier's Primitive hut, wall is not fundamental in this model, considering its connection with nature. Wall becomes more extravagant, it may reflect a social mentality/influence.

~ Imagine with no wall. Only Column, roof, the fundamental elements correspond to gravity.



Nov.11, 2017

From Tegel airport to east Berlin, taxi driver politely pointed out "The Wall". Graffiti, scrawled all over on a section of Berlin wall, composes many messages into certain mood hardly to describe. 

I noticed a building, supposed to be a social housing, with such a familiar style. I asked the driver to stop. I made a little walk. It was Alvaro Siza's work. Red letters " BITTE LEBN" were painted on building's parapet.

The red letters reminded me of some propagandas on building's front during 1960s-1970s movements worldwide. Doing a little research... "BITTE LEBN" (please live) was a statement to replace the original graffiti "Bonjour Tristesse" (Hello Sadness). Suddenly, those images of my short trip here, all echoed with "Bonjour Tristesse". "Hello sadness" was quite right to catch the mood, sensed in Berlin and from its graffiti, a collective statement of such an urban area developing upon a little sadness.

Or it was just the rain... to cultivate the mood?


@ Bauhaus Archive, Berlin

Nov.18, 2017

In 1938, MOMA New York had an unusual exhibition "Bauhaus: 1919-1928", introducing Bauhaus school to US. 

From Nov 15th 2017 to May 3rd 2018, Bauhaus Archive Berlin has an ongoing exhibition " New Bauhaus Chicago: experimental photography and film". The exhibition celebrates New Bauhaus founded in Chicago in 1937, after Bauhaus school was closed in Berlin .

After a little background above, I hope to draw a connection between New York and Berlin, involving my daily experience in Manhattan. 

I see Manhattan as Noah's Ark, having saved diversity.1938 MoMA's exhibition: "Bauhaus: 1919-1928" may extend the Bauhaus' influence worldwide. And it made a first step for US to welcome Bauhaus and become the new home for Bauhaus art and architecture. 

When Walking by Seagram building and the surrounding blocks, I have the direct feeling how Mies Van der Rohe and his Bauhaus influenced the patterns and skylines of Midtown Manhattan. 

New York and Berlin mutually understand and like each other in some way. See, at least, both are having the rainy day and night today.

Ps, I don't take any photo inside Bauhaus Archive, to respect the rule and encourage a visit by yourself. Outside, it's interesting to discover some experimental houses, like this yellow Silo House.



Nov.14, 2017

Urban design frames reality or reality frames urban design, it's not a question but a choice.


Two sides of one object

Sept.30, 2021

A place carrying memory, love, hope, revival is the place to stay. Our purpose of design is to realize the place with you.

Industrialism and urbanism are two sides of one object, that is war and peace of human inhabitants and environment. The influence of this project is defined by how we vision industrialization and urbanization, and how we design today's places and the relations to environment. Whether it's as cool as a machine cutter, or as a living and breathing life, or other alternatives.

Urban Design is a strategy to embrace the place of human and environment, and a bridge to coordinate the flows of people, capital, memories,  materials. 

For example, in a plan of manufacturing center, considering the influence on surrounding community, urban design is about dynamic and balance. For example, in an innovative strategy to improve healthcare center working flow and efficiency, design is about connect and circulation. For example, in a prototype creation to increase usage rates of medical device and the space, urban design is about stimulation. 

Besides sense of logic and technique, very importantly, the heart of design is about sensibility, about authenticity, and about compassion.



Oct.20, 2021


~ Imagine with no wall. Only Column, roof, the fundamental elements correspond to gravity.


~ This is Arch, without columns and structure to correspond to gravity, only with shell. Arch is a cell. Many cells gather and distribute into the space. Urban design will grow with a high level of order for humans to gather and scatter from an initial stage of nomad style.


Salute A Lighted Temple

July 2, 2022

Claude Nicolas Ledoux's Saline de Chaux was built at the breaking of modern history. It is a last masterpiece of enlightenment to unfold a dream of industrial utopia that generates reciprocity of respect between individuals and brings harmony with environment. 

It is a community of salt factory designed in classic order, harmonizing manufacture setting with theaters and schools.

By building wooden pipes, the production process brought salt water from 20 kilometers away to the production destination Arc-et-Senans. 

When looking back at the model of Saline de Chaux, there is always the inspiration and belief. Why spending so much time and energy to involve a piece of design with appropriate selective technology, good culture and art? Because the light of justice stands in the place that presents and harbors the innocent, the harmonious, the order.


Author©Zhe Jin. All rights reserved

E A U create Evolution.Arch.Urbanismstrategy and designNew York

©All rights reserved