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Ling FAN is an architect practicing in Beijing. He is currently Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture at Central Academy of Fine Arts. Ling Fan received a Bachelor of Architecture from Tongji University (2005) and a Master of Architecture from Princeton University (2007). He has published in Abitare, Architects, Domus, Pidgin, Time + Architecture, Grand Design, and others, and is currently a regular contributor to Abitare and guest editor for Time + Architecture.



TANG Hung Fai received his BSC (Arch.) from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and worked as a part-time instructor and research assistant after his graduation. He is now working as an intern for Atelier FCJZ in Beijing.

Ling FAN, Jonathan D SOLOMON, with Yung Ho CHANG, JIANG Jun, Jeffrey JOHNSON, Ted KANE, Eri SAIKAWA, Shi JIAN, WANG Jun, ZHANG Xin

The Cloud in the Clock: A Fabricated Dialogue on Beijing

PUBLIC SPACE: Century Avenue



4m 8m 3m

31.0m 24.5m





Century Avenue is an urban phenomenon. To embrace the new century, a number of Chinese cities have built iconic boulevards named “Century Avenue,” or renamed their existing key roads “Century Avenue.” Century Avenue is never so important for the transportation network, but always imbued with some iconic meaning. In the case of Shanghai’s Century Avenue, a 100 meter wide and 5,500 meter long street that connects the Oriental Pearl Tower with Century Park, two famous tourist sites in Pudong. The Avenue diagonally splits the urban fabric to explicate a radical bisect from the old, and to represent the courage to break from dogma. It has a section profile based on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, with a wider pedestrian lane on the north side to let the people enjoy more sunshine. However, the walkway is blocked by a thick line of greenery from the surrounding residential area. Location: Shanghai Dimension: 100 meters wide, 5.5 kilometers long Program: Infrastructure

FAN Ling with TANG Hung Fai

This is a fabricated dialogue about a city missing its dimensional fabric. Instead of establishing an original critique, 306090 sets out this provocation as a scratch line to stretch between different points on the same trajectory (urbanism, architecture, real estate, urban culture, policy, economy, and environment) heading as far as possible in either direction to map an architectural and political genealogy of urban China in the past decade. From the comments of a group of participants with diverse roles in the transformation of Beijing over the past decade—architects, developers, researchers, journalists, and policymakers—306090 presents this constructed conversation. Of course it neither begins nor ends, you can cut in at any moment.

Jonathan D Solomon: In his 1987 text “City, Image, Materiality,” Fumihiko Maki contrasts the hierarchical order of the clock with the homogenous vapor of the cloud. Observing the changing fabric of postwar Tokyo, he proposes that the state of the contemporary city approached the latter. Maki’s understanding of an architectural operation in this context, which became a foundational tenant of the aesthetic of fragmentation, was to imagine buildings of clocklike parts in cloudlike assemblies. While Maki’s formulation, the city as a fragmentation of functional but disassociated pieces, belongs to another era, the clock and the cloud remain relevant measures of the city, if in new ways. Beijing in 2008, for instance, is much like an inversion of this condition, a city of cloudlike, vaporous parts afloat still in a clocklike hierarchy. Like Tokyo in the 1980s, Beijing is a city that has undergone an extraordinary recent transformation. The context and the consequences of these changes must

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point us in a new direction. Tell us about Beijing. How does it look like a clock; how does it see like a cloud? Jeffrey Johnson: What I find amazing about Beijing is that it has throughout its history experienced perpetual transformation—politically, dimensionally, culturally—yet throughout this time it has been able to maintain symbolic stability. To use the terms of your introduction it has moved with the fluidity of the cloud but has kept the functionality of the clock. Beijing is a capital city par excellence, holding that position consistently, albeit sometimes shared, for nearly 1000 years (aside from a brief period during the Republican Era). Even in its contemporary condition, where transformation is occurring at an unprecedented pace, Beijing still maintains this duality of stability and flux. Shi Jian: I look at Beijing as a cultural schizophrene: On one hand, I mourn the disappearance of its history, on the other hand, I am stimulated by its rapid transformation; On one hand, I feel the need to record the old city as it fades out, on the other hand, I can appreciate newly erected urban spaces. I am living in the center of Beijing and I am a witness to how the city grows every day; I relentlessly criticize the chronic illness caused by rapid urban expansion, yet I personally enjoy the reality of these new spatial dimensions. Can I describe these paradoxes as conforming to “cloudlike” or “clocklike” dimensions? I do not know if it is necessary. Here in Beijing, there is an elasticity between appearances and hidden rules, desperate struggle and robust survival coexist, the suicide of new urban space games up with creative strategies for urban regeneration…All these overlaps and contradictions in the present are more interesting to me than the question of an urban future. The evolution of Chinese architecture and urbanism just does not follow an existing pattern. These fields now seek their own rules, an action which constitutes a critical act of discovery, research, and action. Beijing is discovering its own critical dialog. Jeffrey Johnson: Contemporary Beijing is essentially defined by its ability to continually change all the while maintaining a fixed center. Under normal circumstances the contradiction of stability and change should create conflict. Stability necessarily rejects change, while change can only occur by agitating that which is fixed.

building, a cheap labor, and loose environmental laws have all combined to create a vacuum which international investors can exploit. The economic growth of China has created its own feedback loop where high investment returns pursues even faster growth, drawing increasing numbers of investors. This wave of capital is flowing into Beijing and other cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai and Tanjing, creating explosive growth. In these Chinese markets, investors have opened up the best locations for development in historic cores and river front blocks where Government/Private agreements allow for speedy demolition and quick infrastructure connections. This is combined with strategies of creating signature Bilbaotype buildings to increase prominence and values of surrounding property, and increase prestige for the growing cities. These large and prominent urban sites are rare in the west, and are the ideal playground for international architects looking to apply their signature works.

Chunshu, Xuanwu District, Beijing, Sze Tsung Leong, 2004. C-Print .Copyright Sze Tsung Leong, Image courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Beijing’s evolution disproves this formulation, especially in its contemporary condition. Somehow change and stability are able to coexist, each substantiating the other. Ling Fan: The clock is a literally and phenomenally transparent artifact. Its workings are nested in a hierarchy in which each component is knowable as a unit and as a piece of whole. A new understanding of the role and scale of hierarchy in the city fits an era of crowdsourcing by mobile phone and internet chatrooms, of instant monuments and unprecedented growth. Where the clock is transparent, the cloud is translucent, both in the literal sense of the blur, and in the phenomena of chaos. Transparency is a western proclivity, it is the cornerstone of government (liberal democracy) and economy (free market). In China, by contrast, there is a saying “clear water kills the fish.” This suggests that translucency, or the quality of being a cloud, creates a more vibrant environment for development in the east. In China being a clock, hierarchical and rigid, is camouflage for being a cloud. All the descriptions of a clock (precise, delicate) guarantee a politically correct façade for what the cloud assembles. To be a cloud in a clock is to be in a more advantageous position than to be a clock in a cloud. Eventually, all political rules, regulations, and hierarchies follow development, more precisely, economical

development. Let’s start from the one who benefits most from such development. Zhang Xin: The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of industrial civilization; the World Trade Center the symbol of American Spirit; Skyscrapers around Asian cities are symbols of new fortune. Should Beijing, a city that has not had so much fortune yet, be so eager to build at this scale? Should this city be accumulating so much iconic architecture? I think not. On the contrary, an era embracing individuality requires a focus on a different urban dimension. The construction of Beijing should emphasize multiplicity and diversity and multiple layers, not icons. Ted Kane: Despite the ideals and theories often espoused by architects, they are bit players in the urban planning of the Chinese city, where large sums of money from international hedge and retirement fund managers increasingly control urban development. The explosive growth and opportunity that has landed in China has more to do with the forces of finance that have drawn it here, then the forward thinking of planners or architects. The flow of money from investment funds know no borders in its pursuit of the largest return on investment, having landed where the combination of new markets, a top down government that can speed up infrastructure

Ling FAN, Jonathan D SOLOMON, with Yung Ho CHANG, JIANG Jun, Jeffrey JOHNSON, Ted KANE, Eri SAIKAWA, Shi JIAN, WANG Jun, ZHANG Xin

Jeffrey Johnson: If there is to be a new urban dimension understood from Beijing, it must take into account time as much as space. Change in Beijing can be measured in speeds and amplitudes. Beijing, and most of urban China, has been recently experiencing change at an unprecedented pace. With the arrival of the Olympics, Beijing has had additional motivation to accelerate the rate of this change. The marriage of speed and change has held a privileged position in China since Mao’s reign, though not always to the benefit of its citizens. Contemporary Beijing’s stable center, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, is a fixed measure by which to gauge change. The ring roads encircling the center and the nodal developments strung along them imply infinite expansion of the city at a seemingly unrestricted rate. This concentric expansion model will forever be tied to its center, with growth always measured in distance from it. These are both spatial and temporal measures. Ted Kane: Given all of the opportunities available in China it is ironic that the architect is in its weakest position here, often subservient to developers whose connections to government officials control the zoning, site constraints, and program long before the architect is hired. Further limiting control is an approval system that places construction documents in the hands of quasi-governmental Institutes (LDI’s), which separates the design architects from the realities of construction, or codes, which relegate them into a role as image makers operating as glorified rendering companies for their client’s interests. Western architects follow the waves of finance to where it leads them, and into an unknown culture to which they are not connected. A newly cleared block in a prime urban location is an opportunity for creative expression unfettered by awareness of the forceful removal of the former inhabitants and demolition of their houses which went into its creating. The naive and enthusiastic western architect goes into this market at the behest of its developer client, operating within a bubble of willing ignorance that allows them to work unencumbered by the prejudices of politics, culture, human rights, or environmental consequence that might impede their work opportunities or creativity. Here they have conveniently

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separated the role of architect from both the money that creates it, the politics that encourage it, or its impacts on the workers or culture surrounding it.


Jiang Jun: The old city of Beijing is the symbolic core that gives dimension to the transformations around it, but it is being nibbled at continuously by the forces of economic and cultural growth. Ten years ago, Beijing was still a socialist capital with a fabric of courtyard housing. After the residential reform of 1998, the real estate market in Beijing has stimulated a new living configuration, conceptual commercial housing units by star developers. About eight years ago, Olympic construction began to heat up the building process, which had been centered on real estate development. A series of international star architecture pieces were begun: The Bird’s Nest and CCTV, and key zones such as the CBD and Zhong Guan Cun were upgraded. The closure of Capital Steel Company symbolizes Beijing’s post-industrial transformation. Changes to Beijing in the past decade reflect the Chinese modernization process which has tracked from economic reform to political reform. In the end urban China is the measure of this political modernization process. Ted Kane: How is an architect to intervene a system that leaves little space for the ideals of a greater good, equality, or justice? The western architect’s approach seems to be a psychological separation between what they are willing to do in developing countries versus what they would advocate in their own. They operate like the Las Vegas tourist slogan “what happens in China, stays in China”, complacent and content with the empty luster of authorship and a rendering for their next brochure. There is a double standard at work with foreign Architects chasing opportunity in China but leaving their conscious at the door. An architect for hire can pursue their ambitions unencumbered from any responsibility to support democracy, freedoms of expression of users, or the working conditions of the labor required to build their concepts, justified by their feeling that the effects of their design is itself enough to justify their involvement. Jiang Jun: If Beijing is a city of stability in perpetual transformation, one recommendation for intervening is to facilitate change not through continual outward growth but through rapid and precise micro-agitations. This could be done mot only through new structures, but through adaptive reuse, limiting demolition and population relocation. Cities are by their nature aggregations of interventions, authored by many, continually possessed, discarded, repossessed and altered by even more. Beijing is growing more as a collection of fixed and permanent structures, each one competing with the next to be the most unique. These broad-stroke planning strategies, a carry-over from the monumental Soviet influenced era, promote large-scale development at the cost of vibrant neighborhoods. Planning should become more strategic and exact to provide for maximum change with minimal disruption and waste.

Ling Fan: While Beijing’s urban development occurs at a scale of global influence, the dilemmas of transformation are born by 122 locals. For example, in order to prepare for the Olympics, it is the people of Beijing who have sacrificed their convenience and their environment. Moreover, the traditional city has transformed into an unfamiliarly intensive environment for locals. Can these two scales be reconciled? Yung Ho Chang: In general, people like talking about the physical and cultural preservation of Beijing. There is nothing wrong with this. As an old Beijing citizen, however, what is more valuable for me are the patterns of life sustained by such a physical environment, for instance, how people actually live in the Hutong we wish to preserve. When we speak about how a city functions versus how it is composed, this is what we speak of. When seen in this way, there are two problems with preservation: First, the fundamental problem of changing lifestyles. Shopping in a Hutong is very specific. The seller carries goods to the door of every residence. The buyers come out to buy things. When there were very few stores in Beijing, such a way of selling things provided a fundamental convenience for daily life. You might go to Wang Fu Jing sometimes, but just for fun, not for buying daily commodities. In the case of physical cultural preservation, this pattern of inhabitation is not included. Seeking to preserve the culture but not the foundations of life of a place is highly problematic. Second, if Beijing retained a very convenient living pattern, then it would be no problem for it not to have culture. However, the current condition of the city is neither convenient nor is it sustaining of culture. The convenience of life and the cultural environment are both withering. My memory of childhood life in Beijing is that the street was always noisy but when one entered the courtyard, he or she felt quiet. The distance between courtyard and street is not far but the feeling and atmosphere were totally different. This is the whole spatial structure of the courtyard: sky on top, earth on the bottom, some trees, birds flying, you were so close to nature. This is the real (old) Beijing. Most of it has gone. Jonathan D Solomon: We see new infrastructure everywhere in Beijing to accommodate these new scales, new patterns, new flows. These range from the new Airport and highways; to social policies to smooth international travel such as the ban on spitting or teaching cab drivers English; to cultural shifts to accommodate floating populations. But is this new city with its new dimensions any less real? Wang Jun: Rings spreading outwards from the center— This is an old form that has been reinforced in Beijing by recent construction. The single core and ring-road form is not appropriate for a contemporary metropolis. Beijing would do better to follow the form of a development axis with multiple centers; organically distributing traffic and balance development, reducing private automobiles—especially regional traffic—within high density areas, and allowing public transportation to dominate. This would be a more real city for pedestrians.

While this pattern might be less hierarchical and transparent it is in the end more functional. Its benefits include: increased variety of land use in the center area; better control over land price, more efficient sharing of infrastructure and resulting reductions in operating costs; increased flexibility of urban and regional development; decrease in exhaust emissions and improvements to the urban environment; and a return to a human scale of urban atmosphere. Beijing’s approach to easing circulation has been to construct more highways. The second, third and forth ring roads run directly through high density urban blocks, which enables faster circulation but reduces the connections across either side of the road. Private automobiles become the main form of urban transportation, and traffic gets worse and worse. The ring roads encourage pedestrian deserts and negatively constrain urban development—they forgo the human dimension in favor of sprawl. Eri Saikawa: As Beijing has developed over the past decade, the rapid increase in the number of automobiles in the city has also created some serious air pollution problems. Such levels of pollution not only cause adverse environmental impacts such as acid rain, but also affect human health. A World Bank study jointly conducted with the Chinese government has calculated the total number of premature mortalities due to respiratory disease related to air pollution in China is as high as 750,000 per year. In 2006, the total number of vehicles in Beijing was 1.26 million, compared to 0.82 million in 2000, this indicates a more than 150% increase in just 6 years. The increase over the last 15 years is most visible in the number of private buses and cars in Beijing and in the statewide vehicle volume. Due to such rapid increases, traffic jams have been a major problem in Beijing, especially in rush hours. Public transport is well developed, but more effort is needed to encourage people not to drive their own cars and use subways and buses instead. Although there has been much media coverage on Beijing’s air pollution and other environmental problems, I see a positive change overall in the city. The train station is now equipped with energy efficient systems, for instance. It is a shame to see so many old historical districts being torn down, but it is also exciting to see environmentally-friendly public transportation appearing more and more in Beijing—it’s a city that’s extremely active with infinite possibilities for the future. Ling Fan: These changes reflect a clear shift in government policy from pursuing economic growth to looking inwards at quality of life. Chairman Hu Jintao promotes “Harmonious Society”, “Ecological Culture” and “Humanity Concern” versus earlier goals: “Development Is A Solid Principle” or “Centralized with Economic Development.” Economic power now goes beyond merely a political showcase to a motivator for “Better City, Better Life,” the theme of 2010 Shanghai World Expo. I can’t say this shift has been affected conspicuously in people’s daily life. However, is there a trend has appeared already in a higher social level?

Ling FAN, Jonathan D SOLOMON, with Yung Ho CHANG, JIANG Jun, Jeffrey JOHNSON, Ted KANE, Eri SAIKAWA, Shi JIAN, WANG Jun, ZHANG Xin

No.6 Huashizhong Fourth Lane, Chongwen District, Beijing, Sze Tsung Leong, 2003. C-Print. Copyright Sze Tsung Leong, Image courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Zhang Xin: Our society is transforming from political to commercial. Activities have changed, life style has changed and place has changed as well. The city inhabitants are in great need of consumer space, the space of contemporary communication: they go to restaurants, bars and book stores. Since consumer needs have grown beyond the planned construction of commercial spaces, bar streets of San Li Tun, city blocks of Hou Hai, and shopping streets of Xiu Shui came into being spontaneously. However, the infrastructure and management of these places remain in poor condition. There is no homogenous branding promotion, which grow instead like wildflowers next along the street, natural and random, attractive, but unable to attain a spectacular landscape. Culture is generated from breeding nature. Human civilization has always been created through the transformation and taming of nature. What is the architecture of Beijing? What kind of place can accommodate people with all kinds of dreams and from all over the world? Inclusiveness, exuberance, and hybridity should be the aim of Beijing city construction and the fundamental idea of Beijing urban planning. In a politicized city construction is always dimensional. The relationship of activity to form is always integral during a political era. Streets must be astonishingly wide emphasizing state power, plazas must be

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super spacious, emphasizing communal unity. Economic society, in contrast, needs to stimulate consumption, individuality is key. The scale of urban planning in such a society should be small-scale, varied and friendly to a diverse population. When we built SOHO Street we had to be very careful. Building such a humongous project in the heart of the city, we had to be considerate of its scale and density, which is comparable to a micro-city in itself. If we could not do it right, then it would be a disaster. In development projects, land is only one of the industrial production elements of a project; one can have land whenever one has the money. What makes a development successful is its capacity to combine multiple resources creatively in a product and promote it effectively to society. There are two aspects to this capacity discovering the creativity in each individual; transforming that individual creativity into a collective one. The difference is comparable to the spontaneous San Li Tun Bar Street and the deliberately planned SOHO Street. The spirit of SOHO Street is multi-centered and mulit-layered, it has multiple entrances and frames multiple views. There is no monolithic center garden or plaza. Huge construction cultivates smallness, and smallness embodies the grandiose. The design is labyrinth-like, and urban street filled with small piazzas in the city. There are

edented growth being experienced by the cities of China create great opportunities for the future, but in this is also the opportunity for architects to advocate larger goals beyond the developers rendered views. In every society it is the educated and culturally connected who must speak out first about injustice, waste, and intolerance, for if they don’t speak, then nobody will.


New Street, Shijicheng, Landianchang, Haidian District, Beijing, Sze Tsung Leong 2004. C-Print. Copyright Sze Tsung Leong, Image courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

two levels of courtyards, meandering bridges, streets, and high glass towers. People who have been to Venice always complement its intimate scale, perfect for pedestrians and shops. People walk across the street shoulder to shoulder, and smile when they meet accidentally. It is the perfectly dimensioned city for communication. Every piazza is alike but slightly different. The identity of every street and every piazza is created by different shops, restaurants, and cafes and the different people who fill them. Sometimes, one piazza that was not that attractive one year is totally changed by the opening of a few interesting shops the next. SOHO tries to create such a condition. Ted Kane: Architecture is a nomadic profession; its highly educated and cultured class are trained on the principals of the general and the modern; they are excited by change and unencumbered by strong ties to place. In the name of opportunity, most architects would go to the ends of the earth in pursuit of their ambitions and creative potential. The opportunity for development at scales unknown in their native countries and creative freedoms not encumbered by tradition, has made Beijing a top destination for new graduates and young ambitious firms looking to establish them selves in the world. The

larger danger inherent in this system of development, in which the architects have benefitted, is a realization that capitalism works even most efficiently under a controlled government authority. It is unquestionable that the process of development is more efficient when dissent is limited, and when decisions can be indiscriminately dictated from above; but what freedoms are lost that allow a Beijing a subway line can be designed, approved and constructed in less than 4 years, when it would take over 20 years in Los Angeles? The checks and balances imposed by individual dissent, property rights, and environmental review are all inherent in the west, but are now being seen by even western developers and some politicians as unnecessary or even impediments to progress. The architect must not be a willing participant in its own destruction of culture, a commitment to ideals, freedom and the environment should not be negotiable depending on the situation. The architect is losing its direction as a profession, separated from the skills of construction, disconnected from the needs of society, or oblivious to the impacts of their constructions, the architect is walking a path towards its own irrelevance. But even in a weakened state controlled under developers and government authorities, the architect can have a positive or negative impact in the shaping of our cities, and it is their role to push in the positive. The unprec-

Ling FAN, Jonathan D SOLOMON, with Yung Ho CHANG, JIANG Jun, Jeffrey JOHNSON, Ted KANE, Eri SAIKAWA, Shi JIAN, WANG Jun, ZHANG Xin

Yung Ho Chang: What should be preserved from the old city of Beijing? What can be preserved? We must consider a new living pattern, which is not subordinate to economic development. It must have qualities of its own. Most living patterns right now in Beijing are negative. People have a chance to start their career at the expense of their living quality. Considered actively, quality of life is a cultural issue. Beijing is a cultural city with long tradition., but the manner of its urbanization and economic development is almost the same as other Chinese cities, rendering it increasingly generic. I think that development could be less conflict with culture. Beijing could be a super-tourist city by taking advantage of its culture and tradition. In so doing, the city could make much more money than others. To look backwards, I think it is better to preserve the Hutongs instead of the courtyards. The singular preserved courtyard is an anachronism without urban meaning. To look forward, I think the city should keep developing instead of standing still at a certain period, such as 19th century. In fact, I do not agree with the direction of development the city is taking, a neither high nor low density, tall building short building approach. I think the city should have a better vision. Developers seek generally to understanding and appropriating the culture, but not to define the culture. These represent two very different ways of operating. Beijing and other cities are too abstract in their vision and too specific in their material pursuit. Quality of life and sustainability must be addressed. How should Beijing be built? What is the role of the architect? Maybe we can only add things to the city. In 50 years, will we be able to take some things away too? The old city can always be rebuilt. It might not be so difficult right now if you consider the current grandiose constructions underway in the city. Zhang Xin: When they take off the grey Mao Suit and leave behind the familiar bicycle, the people of Beijing have the confidence, sitting in the newly built city, to live as a New Yorker, Parisian, or Londoner.

Pidgin, Time + Architecture, Grand Design, et cetera, and is now the column writer for Abitare and guest editor for Time + Architecture.


Jonathan D Solomon is an architect based in Hong Kong and an editor of 306090 Books. He has taught design at the City College of New York and, as a Banham Fellow, at the University at Buffalo. He is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. He is author of Pamphlet Architecture #26, 13 Projects for the Sheridan Expressway and of Markestructure, a forthcoming book on the privatization of urban infrastructure. Yung Ho Chang is Professor of Architecture and Head of the Department of Architecture at MIT. He received his MArch from the University of California at Berkeley and taught in the US for 15 years before returning to Beijing to establish his own practice, Atelier FCJZ. He has taught at various architecture schools in the USA, including Ball State, Michigan, Berkeley, Rice, and Harvard, where he was the Kenzo Tange Chair Professor of 2002. In Fall 2004, Chang was the Eliel Saarinen Visiting Professor at the A Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, USA. Jiang Jun is a designer, editor and critic, has been working on urban research and experimental creation. He founded Underline Office that focuses on exploring the driving impact from urban dynamic on design phenomenon, the apparent structure of potential sequence, and the automatically developed design mechanism. At the end of 2004, he launched and became the chief editor of Urban China Magazine. Jeffrey Johnson is an architect and co-founding principal, with Jill Leckner, of SLAB architecture based in New York City. He is also the Director of China Lab, an experimental research unit at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, at Columbia University, where he also teaches. Ted Kane is a project architect for Morphosis  in Los Angeles,  as well as a photographer and writer focused on the urban condition. Ted completed his Bachelors in Architecture at the University of Kentucky and Masters in Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles. Ted is the founder of the online journal Polar Inertia (, and the author of the book Polar Inertia: Migrating Urban Systems, which was published by the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design in 2007.

Yung Ho Chang: A lot of people think that Beijing is a better place to live than Shanghai. I guess most of them have strong cultural consciousness. Beijing has very interesting people, very different from other places, they are not local, but just passing by or staying in Beijing. The city has an atmosphere that is very extrinsic.

Eri Saikawa is a PhD candidate within the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy Program at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Her dissertation is on policy diffusion mechanisms and she analyzes the political, social, and scientific impacts of automobile emissions standards. Saikawa has a bachelor of engineering from the University of Tokyo and a master of public affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington

Ling Fan practices in Beijing as an architect. He is currently instructor in the School of Architecture at Central Academy of Fine Arts. Ling Fan received a Bachelor of Architecture from Tongji University and a Master of Architecture from Princeton University. He is now collaborating with Yung Ho Chang on a historical preservation and regeneration project in the center of Old City of Beijing. He has published in Abitare, Architects, Domus,

Shi Jian is a critic, curator and publisher, the planning director of Beijing Isreading Culture Ltd. He is a member of the advisory board for Urban China, and a member of the editorial board of Avant-Garde Today and Building Review magazines. He curated Regeneration Strategy: New Xisi Project International Invitation Exhibition, 2007 in the National Library in Beijing, and co-curated Building China: Five Projects, Five

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Stories, AIA New York, 2008 in New York. He also participated in Shenzhen Biennale in 2005 and 2007. Wang Jun, a journalist based in Beijing, published the book The Story of a City about a year ago, which has been at the top of Beijing’s bestseller list ever since, and has triggered a new wave of discussion on urban planning in the capital. Zhang Xin is CEO of SOHO China. She received a Master’s degree in Development Economics at Cambridge University, and worked as an analyst in New York at ING Barings and Goldman, Sachs & CO. before marrying Pan Shiyi, SOHO China’s founder. In October 2002, Zhang became the first non-architect to receive an award for her bold personal initiative at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

Overleaf: Wangjing Xiyuan Third District, Chaoyang District, Beijing, Sze Tsung Leong, 2003. C-Print. Copyright Sze Tsung Leong, Image courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

The Cloud in theClock: A FabricatedDialogue on Beijing  

Published in 306090

The Cloud in theClock: A FabricatedDialogue on Beijing  

Published in 306090