Tag Archives: China

I love the suburbs

Call me crazy, but I love suburbs. Ever since watching US movies and television, I have a fascination for them. The idea of urban development specifically designed with space – both private and communal – and convenience in mind is very intriguing to me. And I love how suburbs tend to immediately trigger people; both in positive and negative ways. Some people shiver at the thought of living in cookie cutter homes, with neighbours watching your every step. Others long for the space, yards and convenience that come with a move to ‘the burbs’. And a suburb in the USA is different from a suburb in France for instance. We all know the images of violent riots emerging in the Parisian ‘Banlieu’. And in some countries, suburbs are equally crowded as downtown, and often poorer than their inner-city counterparts. My fascination is limited to the classic leafy suburbs like in the movies. What do you think of when you hear the word?

Levittown. One of the first suburbs in the USA. Returning veterans longed to settle so suburbs emerged in many parts of the country

The very typical suburb Richfield. Once a very dull and uninspiring part of Minneapolis, now a popular place due to its proximity to town.

Brøndby, on the outskirts of Copenhagen

Suburb in China. All homes are the same

Paris banlieu with riot police

The Amsterdam suburb IJburg, takes inspiration from the historic center, with houseboats, canals and back-to-back homes.

Gorgeous Tampa suburb aptly called ‘Beautiful’. And this is the kind of suburb I love……


Shanghai Songhijang botanical garden quarry

An abandoned quarry in the Chinese city Shanghai was transformed to a landmark park as part of the botanical gardens. The design won the American Society of Landscape Architecture 2012 Honor Award. It was designed by THUDPI

Shanghai Quarry park

China cloned entire Austrian town

In China, an exact copy of the Unesco World Heritage listed village of Hallstatt in Austria opened to visitors last week.

The clone, situated in the province of Guangdong, cost £600 million to build and occupies about a million square metres. It is an exact replica of the original town, located on the shores of the Hallstätter See.

Hallstatt Austria

Hallstatt Guangdong Austria


China’s abandoned Magic Kingdom; Wonderland

I love abandoned sites. A few years back we took a trip to California and visited Bombay Beach on the coast of the Salton Sea. Sounds dreamy right? Well, it’s not. This is Bombay Beach.

Bombay Beach California

High salt levels and floods made Bombay Beach, once coined the Riviera of California, uninhabitable. Well, for most that is, as some die-hard residents still call it home.

California is also home to Disneyland. Anything but deserted. The Magic Kingdom draws in about 15.000.000 people each year. That’s close to the population of The Netherlands! Wonderland Theme Park in China, about a 45 minute drive from Downtown Beijing, is not so lucky. What was going to be the largest amusement park in Asia and Asia’s answer to Disney Magic Kingdom, is now probably competing with Tjernobyl as the largest abandoned site in the East. Disagreements with local government and farmers over property prices forced the project developers to stop construction in 1998. It now sits abandoned between fields of corn and houses along the highway to the Great Wall. I have tried to find aerial images of in on Google Earth but have not had any luck yet. But these pictures already show its marvel and make me want to book a flight to China to see it myself.

Photographs by David Grey (Reuters). For more from this series check this article on theatlantic.com

Origami table by Tian Zhen

 “It all begins with folding of a paper crane at elementary school in China”. 

Thus quotes her website the Chinese born/Netherlands educated Tian Zhen. She applies the art of origami to many of her designs. In 2006 she graduated from Academie Minerva, my own Alma Mater, and started working with various studio’s and on the side pursued a career as a solo designer. 

Paper can carry the weight of much more than we think when folded with origami. In an earlier post Homevoyeurs highlighted the paper Flexible Love Chair by Korean designer Chishen Chiu. This sofa/seat design also makes use of paper folded and formed to give it enough strength to seat up to 16 people. Inspired by this magnificent quality of paper Tian designed the LOTUS side table. The glass top is made of plexiglas, and the ‘paper’ is actually Tyvek, a synthetic woven material also used in the building- and the automotive industries. 

Lotus side table by Tian Zhen


The table can be changed from one shape to another in only a few seconds. In total there are six unique shapes. 

Inspired? The Homvoyeurs web shop sells many books about Origami and paper art and design. One of them is  Unfolded; Paper in Design, Art, Architecture and Industry
By Petra Schmidt, Nicola Stattmann.

Unfolded: Paper in Design, Art, Architecture and Industry


In “Unfolded Paper in Design, Art, Architecture and Industry” paper conquers the third dimension and demonstrates the undreamed-of possibilities it holds today for lightweight construction, product design, fashion and art. From “Paper”, the collection of bags by Stefan Diez, to Konstantin Grcic s paper models and the scented paper garments of Issey Miyake, this book presents paper as a high-quality contemporary and ecological material. An enormous selection of projects, the lavish design and numerous illustrations provide designers with invaluable inspiration for their work. The content core of the book is a comprehensive list of state-of-the-art paper products and innovative paper technologies, supporting designers in their everyday work with detailed information on the “high-tech” material paper. From Japanese washi paper and paper foam, to ceramic paper and carbon fiber paper, “Unfolded” presents the latest in research and development, as well as the most important methods and technologies in handcrafts and industry.