URBAN HOPES

Christoph Kumpusch, ed., December 2013, Lars Muller Publisher
Embracing the reality of cities - and the infrastructural, economic, and societal challenges that they face - has inspired a distinctive genre of new work from Steven Holl Architects. Over the past decade the office has taken on work of increasing complexity and scale in China, gathered together here for the first time.

The projects featured in this book play a serious game with scale and the dynamic between micro and macro. There is no in-between, no easy hybridity, but a study of contrasting and nested scales that acknowledge the fact that the city dweller's perception across a given day morphs from micro to macro in cycles.

Hope in Chinese means both "scarcity" and "expectation." Despite its scarcity, hope is an indispensable prerequisite to approaching this broad and inclusive project. Inserted into the urban scale, hope becomes collective and feverish. Taken as a legitimate architectural agenda, hope is a catalyst for change.

In content and format the book reflects such juxtaposition, featuring images and graphic documentation of Steven Holl's recent works realized in China alongside critiques and analyses by a new generation of theorists. Its pages are considered sites capable of handling plurality, contradiction, and excess. It reads like the passing views from a commuter train and looks like a rough script for a new notion of urbanism.