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July 07, 2009

A Morning in Caochangdi (草场地), Beijing

On a gorgeous day in late May, 2009, a group of U-M faculty and staff led by Provost Teresa Sullivan had the pleasure of visiting Caochangdi, one of Beijing’s 300 urban villages where architecture and urban planning students participating in the Michigan Architecture China studio worked and lived during Spring/Summer 2009. First launched about five years ago by Assistant Professor of Architecture and CCS faculty associate Robert Adams, the China studio program is housed in the laboratory space of B.A.S.E. (Beijing Architecture Studio Enterprise) and provides participants an immersive experience intersecting art, architecture and urbanism.

At BASE, members of the group enjoyed meeting many talented and enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate architecture and urban planning students, Professor Adams, as well as the founders of BASE, Centennial Professor of Practice Mary-Ann Ray and Robert Mangurian. After providing an extensive tour of the studio space and a highly informative and fun introduction to the wide range of work taking place there, Professors Ray and Mangurian took the group across the street to the residence and studio of their good friend Ai Weiwei, the pre-eminent Chinese artist and provocateur. Ai was the first among Chinese artists and gallerists to make the move to Caochangdi by designing a compound there for himself, a few friends and a gallery. Nine years later, Caochangdi has become a high-profile hotbed of artistic experimentation. Still buoyed by the creative spirit of BASE, the Michigan group quickly “invaded” Ai’s compound, interacting with Ai and exploring his home and artwork.

The U-M group bid a reluctant goodbye to Caochangdi after additional stops at a migrant workers village, Galerie Urs Meile and a private home also designed by Ai Weiwei.

Pictures from BASE:


Mary Ann Ray, Robert Adams, Ai Weiwei and Robert Mangurian


Mary Gallagher, CCS Director, introduces members of the U-M group to Ai Weiwei


A BASE participant interacts with work by Ai Weiwei

Posted by zzhu at July 7, 2009 12:29 AM