The future, rethought: Shanghai 2014

Team Materia had a busy week with two shows and a conference, all in Shanghai. The shows informed and inspired architecture professionals about the possibilities of innovative materials and new technologies.

This is of particular relevance to the current Chinese market, as the country looks for ways to transform from a mostly raw material based economy to a technological economy.

For this reason, the topic for the Shanghai Architects Fair (SAF) was ‘Rethinking the Future’. A conference was moderated within this theme by Els Zijlstra, Materia founder and creative director. She described the importance of shifting from a linear, wasteful and static world towards a circular, adaptive and waste-free world. She also looked at the meaning that materials have in this discussion.

Other speakers included:

Kasper Guldager Jørgensen, partner of 3XN. He spoke about smart materials and smart architecture, kicking off with an example of a state-of-the-art, futuristic soldier’s uniform stuffed with smart materials. This uniform uses smart materials which are lighter more durable and stronger than existing materials.

Mark Dekker, partner of KCAP Architects & Planners, who discussed living in the city and city planning.

Declan O’Carrol, global leader for Arup architecture, about undefined design. He showed how nature’s intelligence can be used for architectural structures and functions. Above all, the message was that we should not forget that we design for people.

Daan Roosegaarde, founder of Studio Daan Roosegaarde, about interactive landscapes. His presentation looked at the interactive landscapes that make architecture come alive using technology and generating new narratives. He also showed fantastic movies that showed how to revitalize boring brands using colour-changing shirts, how to solve the smog problem in Beijing, and the impression illuminated pixels make on a road at night in front of Vincent van Gogh’s birth-house.

The panel discussion focused on the opportunities of China. The huge country has a strong desire to change its economy. The shift towards a more technology-based culture is a great challenge. Comments were made about the West’s reluctance to copy China’s behaviour. On an encouraging note, it was mentioned that co-operation between the East and the West may be of benefit to both parties.

The SAF was organized together with VNU Exhibitions Asia. It was held on March 25th and 26th, 2014 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.