Item description for Great Leap Forward / Harvard Design School Project on the City by Chuihua Judy Chung Jeffrey Inaba...
Authors: Bernard Chang, Mihai Craciun, Rem Koolhaas, Nancy Lin, Yuyang Liu, Katherine Orff, Stephanie Smith Design: Alice Chung
Harvard Graduate School of Design's independent study seminar Project on the City aims at identifying and analyzing problems leading to and resulting from accelerated urbanization, as well as developing new philosophies to aid our increasingly metropolitan planet cope with the rapid changes. Taking the roles of both architect and sociologist, the students travel and research in the first phase of each cycle, and write their theses in the second. The result of each project is a comprehensive, specialized study of the effects of modernization on the contemporary city. During the 1996-1997 period, Project on the City focused its sites on China's Pearl River Delta, a cluster of five cities with a population of 12 million destined to reach 36 million by 2020. Under the watchful eye of the Chinese Communist Party the Pearl River Delta has been (and still is) undergoing a Western-influenced, unrestricted capitalist development which is effectively destroying traditional Chinese social structures thereby producing an entirely new urban substance. Described as "laboratories for the contained unleashing of capitalism," these Special Economic Zones in the Pearl River Delta constitute an unprecedented experiment in urbanization on an astonishingly large scale. The new book presents thesis essays which explore, in a theoretical and critical context, the problematic results of this forced modernization and the possibility of a new system for understanding the troubled relationship between urbanization and economic growth.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.8" Width: 8.04" Height: 2.12" Weight: 4.62 lbs.
Release Date Feb 22, 2002
ISBN 3822860484 ISBN13 9783822860489
Reviews - What do customers think about Great Leap Forward / Harvard Design School Project on the City?
A uniuqe and all-inclusive study of the worlds fastest developing economy. Mar 31, 2007
While this book is packaged in some degree of sensationalism, such as mentioning that the most prolific architect in Dongguan city is a gambler, and highlighting the negative externalities of foreign direct investment in the region in question, it is the most stunning and compelling analysis I have seen of the PRD. This book is a fascinating introduction to Chinese economic policy and history, and a recommended read for anyone who doesn't know that 1/3 of everything you own that's "Made in China" came from the factories made possible by the topic of this book.
It's the next best thing to actually visiting the place, which I also recommend.
Great book? Apr 5, 2005
After reading all the reviews, I still decided to buy this book. Surprisingly, I think this is a great book, perhaps, in a different way. Some of the people think this is the book with artless pictures and off-track information. In fact, I have to admit that people who are not familiar with china and its culture may have some difficulties to find connection to the book. In my point of view, this book raised some strong questions about the consequences of China's dramatic economic transformation, that the architecture in China would be so egregiously post-modern is interesting. Beside, it also explains the reason behind the replication culture consequentially occur after the red cultural revolution is valuable.
Cliche Nov 19, 2003
It's great that people are starting to look at this topic, but this book reeks of a quick-hit, let's-publish-a-book-after-a-seminar job. The title itself says it all: the Great Leap Forward was a Maoist economic project in the late 50s that left up to 30 million people dead. How can one use this term, which refers to one of the great human tragedies of the 20th century, as a cute title for a book? The GLF wasn't cute. It has nothing to do with architecture or urban planning. Using it in this cavalier way belies a complete ignorance of the past 50 years of Chinese history. Sorry if this seems like nitpicking, but I can't take a book seriously that doesn't take its topic seriously.
Another interesting Project on the City volume Jan 28, 2003
The previous reviewer was disappointed with this volume after reading Koolhaus' books. While the 3 volumes of the Project of the City are under his (loose?) direction, these are actually all anthologies of writings by individuals connected to the Harvard Design School, each book on a separate theme: metropolis (Mutations) shopping (Guide to Shopping) and the Pearl River Valley, this volume. I knew nothing about this region of the world until reading an article in Mutations about it.
Did you know that just one of the cities in this region went from a population of 30,000 to 3.9 million in 15 years? And this growth was accomplished basically without any city planning department? Or that architectural plans for a 40 floor high rise take less than 2 months to complete?
All of the Project on the City books have many similarities, which you can consider a strength (my opinion) or a weakness (previous review). Take a huge subject (PRV, shopping...) provide millions of factoids about it, present those fact in a cacophony of words, graphs, photos (and with Mutations, there is even a CD of avant electronic music). I liked that about S,M.L.XL and I like it in this series. A treatise on architecture and urban planning in the PRV I never would have read. Just too obscure and potentially boring a subject. But after reading and carefully studying all the photos in this book, I'm left with a large, jumbled set of distinct impressions about the PRV, which raise all sorts of questions about the role of architects and planners in developing countries (or in the US, for that matter).
To me the revolutionary things about S.M.L,XL was its insistence that architecture is not best discussed in articles. Even articles with accompanying photos. That is way too static, too two-dimensional a method of transmitting information, and not well suited to how we absorb information in the 21st century. Rem's recent books gives us a cacophony on information simply jumping off the page. The Project on the City books continue those ideas, and I think do a good job of it.
I subtracted a star because of Rem's highly annoying joke of "copyrighting" words that contain key concepts in his writings. This is particularly annoying since some of the writers in this anthology are clearly puzzled by this requirement and lack even the minimal style and humor with which Rem unfurls this trick in his own writing.
A Wasted Idea Apr 26, 2002
I looked forward with great anticipation to this book. Koolhaas' "Delirious New York" was a fascinating work, and "S,M,L,XL" was both interesting and a great argument against hard drives. This book was a major disappointment. It doesn't delve very deeply at all into it's subject matter (the Pearl River Delta area of China) and most of it's "important ideas" are sophomoric. I would say the most irritating thing about this book (other than the totally artless and pointless photographs that litter the book) are the code phrases (highlighted in red) that read like a grad student's compendium of inanities. Don't waste your money.