Rigging the Exhibition

Still jetlagged we are working hard to get the Exhibition up.

The date of the opening was set while we were in China. And it was set to a date much earlier than we expected. Luckily some of us landed in the end if last week. But many of us landed in the weekend. This meant that all in all we had more or less one day to rigg the entire exhibition. That is way to little. Most of us were still adjusting to European time, which means that the usual pre-exhibition exhaustion reached a new level quite early in the evening. Students were falling a sleep on the floor still clutching the pair of scissors they had been using, and images were selected and reselected over and over again because nobody managed to muster the brainpower for a good overview of the exhibition.

We did not, however, need to spend the night at school. Instead, most of us went home to sleep at around one or two in the morning. The next day – which is today – we met at school at nine a clock to hang up the large prints and finish the model before the opening, which is set to one a clock.


Some people stayed behind last night untill 01:00 in the morning, and another group took over their work at 04:00 this morning. So the site was only unattended for three hours.

The main reason for this was to try to make the awful plastic doors we received look a little bit better.

In the morning one million Chinese workers suddenly appeared and began to help us prepare the site.

At 08:30 when the opening ceremony was supposed to start, we still had some problems with the inner cladding. And with the doors.

Professors, press people and other important people were beginning to gather outside the building.

And at about 09:00, only half an hour late, the speeches could begin. The doors still don’t have handles, and they could not be completely closed because they crashed with the cladding. The person who delivered the doors will come and attatch the correct handles later (if I understood correctly). The floor took longer time to dry than anticipated so it was still a bit wet. But there is nothing to do about that, and the ceremony could begin.

Christian held a speech.

Other people held speeches.

Elvira also held a nice speech, on behalf of us the students.

There was a book launch.

A group photo.

And then the fireworks!

Then people could go in and enjoy the nearly finished building.


When the ceremony was over we were driven to an unknown location for some other ceremony.

Our teachers, Christian and Jan, who have done this before, had the foresight to order tickets that made it impossible for them to attend this arrangement.

So as our teachers hurried to the airport, the rest of us were herded in to the bus which drove us for one hour to a conference hotel.

We are now, as I am writing, at a sort of conference or award ceremony without any obvious link to our project other than that it is organized by the UED Magazine who also initiated our project.

The only interesting thing I managed to pick up in my half-sleeping state was that they have made many different proposals for a “Futuristic City” and all of the interpretations of “futuristic” use traditional countryside life or natural terrain or organic metaphors as guides. Unfortunately these, undoubtedly groundbreaking presentations – which never seemed to end – were quite wasted on us since we were all too exhausted to listen very attentively.


Then we returned to the site, to make some final adjustments. This was also our only chance to photograph the building for our final exhibition.

The UED provided us with some books we could inhabit the shelves with. Any representative of AHO’s intellectual side would be pleased to know that one of the books they brought was a Chinese translation of the late AHO professor Christian Norberg-Schulz’ Genius Loci.

In the end it was time to say good bye to our building and walk the other way.

In the evening there was a big barbeque in the valley. They roasted an entire lamb.

And we said our good-byes with good food, singing and drinking.

Tomorrow everyone will travel in different directions. Many people take a train to Hong Kong already tonight, at 02:00(!), some will travel westward to the Yunnan privince, some go back to their universities in Beijing, Tianjin and other places and many of us will possibly never meet again. You get to know eachother very well when you construct a building together. This has been a wonderful experience for all of us. We have learned things about buildings we would never have been able to learn simply from lectures and models at our universities, and we have had the great fortune to get to know fantastic people and students of architecture from many different countries, and hopefully we will be able to meet and help each other also in the years to come.

The Final Day – And Night

We arrive at the site before sunset. As the sun rose over the mountains we were delighted to see the shadow play inside the building from our large windows. The windows are directed to the east so that they only let in soft morning light and don’t heat up the building too much. The beautiful shadows on the collumns and in the ceiling came as a pleasant surprise.

A little bit later in the day the shadows continued to dance down our shelves.

We received a package with a stone carved sign.

The landscaping is working for hard life to finish.

Trial and error, ad infinitum.

In the end we scrapped the black plastic things and decided to use the green ones in stead.

Eventually we found a way of distributing the long awaited, blindingly bright gravel.

While Jan was cutting off the last pieces from the roof.

Inside we are desperately trying to fix the last pieces of the cladding.

It is a big job.

All the shelves were completed.

Also the entrance to the tiny office.

Which looks like one of the book shelves, except it can be flipped up.

The nice people who are cooking for us every day arrived at the site with food for us today.

The bus is not allowed on the roads after 22:00. So that put a definitive end time for our work. And we didn’t like that.

Some people volunteered to stay behind at the site to work on the inside cladding. Most people also wish that something could be done to the awful plastic doors we got.

So a car will pick them up at one AM tonight. Another team will get up early and be at the site at 04:00 to take over their work.

Then at 09:30 the opening ceremony starts! Now, good night!

Exhaustion from dawn till dusk. This is the third day we have woken up at 05:30.

This is our last full day.

We can also work tomorrow, but we don’t know if we will be able to use the whole day, since there might be some preparations for the big opening the day after tomorrow.

The first half of the day was quite uneventful.

We woke up ridiculously early. When we got to the site we carried on working as fast as we could. The sun was scorching hot.

When we went to lunch some clouds had appeared on the sky, and as we sat down to eat the rain was suddenly pouring down.

The good thing is that our water drainage works beautifully.

The bad news is that the roof seem to be leaking.

We believe we have identified the leak to come from the windows, and those are not complete yet, so hopefully this will be solved simply by finishing the windows.

It was such a heavy rainfall that it was difficult to work in it. even though we had some shelter under the two tents, the electrical tools prooved to be cumbersome to use in the rain in a safe way.

Many people were working inside the building. And during the day we managed to complete the work with the elrctrical connections for the lights inside of the building, which had been holding us up for a while.

At the end of the day we also- finally – dismantled the scaffolding. So now we have got a first view of how the main room, with inside cladding, will look.

China: The Land of Instant Noodles and Insant Landscapes

Yesterday we made a decision to start our working day earlier.
So after celebrating Kimi’s birthday, with cake and beer and singing, we made our way back to the hotel and set the alarm to 05:30.

The morning had not broken yet, and the dim light of pre dawn was still hanging in the air.
Anyone with any sense still slept without a care.
All of us stood in a line outside the hotel stairs.
Sleep deprived and slightly dazed, but diligently there.
The only person on the scene missing was the driver.

So our super early morning at the site turned out to be not so early after all.

We’ve painted the benches black to match the building.

Suddenly one million Chinese workers arrived with our plants and promptly started planting them. It all happened incredibly quickly.

It was almost like playing Sims in real life: someone just said “make a landscape over there” and then uncountable numbers of workers scurried around until it was suddenly finished.

On the down side, the doors arrived and they are completely wrong.

The doors they expected us to use are made by some sort of wood, which you can’t see because it is covered by a plastic with a pattern of fake wood.

The doors were really awful. The explanation we got from them was that they thought we wanted four bathroom doors. But they have been here several times now, they know our building! Of course we don’t have four bathroom doors in our less than 50m2 bookshop! And what happened to the specifications we did give them about the doors and the glass?

[Edit: we’ve learned that there has been a shift of administration: The UED Magazine has sold their share of this valley, or something in that direction, to the China Building Company (CBC). So now our materials are being supplied by the CBC, rather than the UED, and this has meant a significant drop in quality of the materials. They’re giving us the very cheapest things they can find now.]

Also, the gravel has still not arrived and the shelves we received are all different sizes and they have been glued with something which doesn’t look like wood glue and they keep falling apart.

Unfortunately there is now too little time for us to do much about these things.

The inside felt a little bit dark, so we decided to white wash the inside of the brick wall.

And the roof window in the bathroom is in place.

The Not So Calm Before The Storm

Tomorrow we are really turning the tempo up. We will leave the hotel at six a clock and work for a long as we have daylight.

The electrical system is causing trouble and we have to finish that before we can complete the inner cladding. So now the atmosphere at the site is getting a little bit tense – even among the local workers.

Today they have been laying the bricks in the path up to the building.

Most of the work left had to be done inside of the building. The problem is that it is very small and it is difficult to work as many people as we would need at the same time.

Especially when random people show up just to have a look around and take photos.

Some of the photographers are hired by the UED Magazine, and we’ve gotten quite used to them.

Today we also received the benches, which has been produced for us in accordance to drawings we made at the site, after we arrived in China.

Instead of eating in the valley, as we usually do, we asked the bus driver to take us directly to the hotel, without having dinner first.

Then we all went out and ordered food at one of the local restaurants to celebrate Kimi’s birthday. There was when a cake shaped like our building!