Darryl Chen, 21 07 08


One might think it impoverished at first glance, though scratching and enquiring deeper, we find not so much an economic fringe, but a slowly evolving urban model. Born in the glow of a new era which suddenly died out, it finds itself detached from its divorced parents, caught in the throes of puberty setting on quickly with all its attendant growing pains – a crisis of identity, new foreign growth where before there was innocently nothing, and the desire of becoming an adult being held in check by an energy to live for the moment. we traverse highways through the neighbourhoods at great speed. here, a windmill, an abandoned factory – evidence of a productive countryside, perhaps still active? but the dominant typology – a super-typology – the bare housing block sometimes 400 metres long, maybe 800…. Unlike in China where rigid planning laws align all developments east west to face the sun (for one side, at least), here in Mahzahl, communes take on a variety of different patterns. They are distributed in this vast open plain their configurations knowable like crop circles only to those who see them from above. The scale of this landscape makes ideal viewing from a fast moving car. It is a seductive cinematic experience.


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