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Shifting Narratives

Part 1 Project 2014
Chien-hua Huang
Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University China
Pudong – the former farmland in the East of the Huangpu river – is the new Shanghai that expresses the rapidly growing power of China. Paradoxically, because of the tightly controlled masterplan that is in place to create the new China, a sense of belonging and inhabitation has been lost in Pudong. The personal scale and narrative appear diminished. The architectural fabric of Pudong is overly-defined by the dominant skyline, which repels against the traces of its citizens’ everyday life.

The ‘Shifting Narratives’ proposal is located on a site that stretches alongside the East bank of the Huangpu river. Hidden by the dominant image of the Pudong glories, a part of its history – a structure from Shanghai’s industrial age – is found unaltered. The existing structures that were formerly used for storing coal signify the past and at the same time indicate potential for a shift of narrative. It is such a shift that may create a balance between the glorious and the personal Pudong.

The proposal initiates a dialogue between narrative and architecture. Potentiality – and with it free imagination – in architectural spaces can be approached by using the art of narrative as a tool for the creation of new dimensions. The detour of making narrative a core design methodology is thus taken to create new dimensions that could reveal everyday narratives without losing the narrative of a new China.

The ‘Shifting Narratives’ proposal challenges the categories of space – our ideas of specific scales connected to specific spaces and activities. The disconnectedness between the scales ‘city’, ‘building’, ‘house’, ‘room’ is challenged, and possibilities for connecting are re-considered from various viewpoints. After the blurring of the boundary of scale, exterior disappears. Everyday personal narrative and controlling narrative are in conversation.

The project is ‘room’, ‘building’ and ‘city’. Providing for four key activities – reading, performing, making and exhibiting, a sense of belonging is created by dissolving fixed notions of scale and by re-composing both personal narrative and the narrative of power. New rhythms are established. The image of Pudong and the image of civic life in Pudong now coexist.

Chien-hua Huang


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