The south is always the other south.
China is geographically divided into North China and South China along the Qinling Mountain Range and the Huaihe River, and thus distinguished in climate, region as well as other natural and cultural features. However, the cultural identity of the so-called “south” is not solely dependent on natural environment, and its intrinsic social properties are not so much manifested against the “north” in natural geography as defined by the reach of permanent central power in the north. Since the unification of the Qin and Han Dynasties, China’s core political power has been seated in northwest and north China for thousands of years. With continuous expansion of central power and migration to the south in history, the original land of barbarians has generated a number of “southern” regions with typical cultural features in the conflict and blending between the cultures of central plains and regionalism. They each have their own names, and are called the “south” as a whole to be distinguished from the “north/center”. Such definition of the other south suggests a spatial gap in concept.
Following the theme of “Cities, Grow in Difference” for 2017 UABB, “The Other South” unit will focus on the presence of contemporary architecture in all sorts of “southern” regions and areas in the differentiated urban and town context. Whether in the drastically changing urban space or relatively stable small town, these buildings all present some sort of tension with the local area, positively or passively. In the face of a profoundly changing region or locality, these different cases of architecture display predicaments and challenges for architecture under diversified modernity. Beginning with magazine South Architecture, the exhibition then proceeds with comparisons of works in pairs, both with similarities and obvious differences. It firstly chose two relatively earlier cases of architecture in “Lingnan” and “Jiangnan” respectively as a historical reference. The selected modern architectural cases are from Shanghai, Anhui, Fujian and Sichuan, all active in regional architectural practices in the last century. Observing their existing situation today may lead to more extensive topics about architectural history and theory. Modern architectural cases of Lingnan are not included among them as much introduction and discussion had been made in the previous UABB and also a special theme has been scheduled for it in this UABB. Besides, just as what “The Other South” implies, the exhibition intends to direct experience outside Lingnan to contribute to local reflection and practice. To this end, a number of architectural scholars from the “south” are also specially invited to the exhibition to participate in the discussion. Their collision of ideas in the video documentary will conclude the exhibition while triggering more reflections and discussions.