In his enlightening collection of essays titled Nicht Disneyland [Not Disneyland], Stanislaus von Moos describes the diverse substantive interdependencies between real urban and architectural production, on the one hand, and on the other, Walt Disney’s paradigmatic Disneyland in Anaheim, California, various national and international exhibitions like the epochal 1900 World Exhibition in Paris or the Swiss National Exhibitions of 1939 and 2002.

Despite all their ideological differences, the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart – as a built manifesto of classic modernism – the postmodern IBA in Berlin, and Sawiris’ vacation resort in Andermatt, as well as Ordos 100, et cetera, function similarly to world’s fairs or amusement parks in terms of their basic mechanisms. A more or less homogeneous group of architects from different countries or even continents come together for a relatively short time and, within a given master plan and based on a comparable program, generate a broad overview of the diversity of current architectural production.

Of course the result is often not unlike a zoological institution, with its characteristic juxtaposition of creatures – some loud and others quiet, either lethargic or hyperactive, cunning or somewhat naive, vain or rather unpretentious. But is that allowed? What’s the point of such a display of pretentious 1000 m² mansions in a “communist(?)” land? Is it a contribution to the pressing societal and political problems of this nation? No, of course not! And we also shouldn’t misconstrue this volcanic explosion of individual creativity as a successful model of urban design. But it is nevertheless remarkable for over 100 young and motivated architects from around the world to travel to the remote steppe landscape of Inner Mongolia to devise ideas, discuss, drink, celebrate, and establish friendships, all with great idealism and little money. It’s a kind of happening with an outcome that remains unknown in all respects. Whether it will ever be fully realized remains to be seen. Welcome to China!

Text "Hello China" by Daniel Niggli