Lingang Utopia: Hanno Rauteberg

Last July I attended an exhibition at the architecture firm gmp in Hamburg, Germany, about the futuristic building project about one hour’s drive from Shanghai, Lingang. Now, in the shadow of the Shanghai Expo, Die Zeit’s awesome architecture critic, Hanno Rauteberg, puts forth a huge article on the topic, and his considered thoughts on the future of green architecture, life at sea, and the relationship between architects, dictators, and revolutionaries.

If anyone’s keeping track, these clips were recorded on Friday night at 3:30 a.m. in a little hotel owned by a Punjabi family outside of Weed (California), with the help of a Hamburg longshoreman and all-around-rogue I later drove to Los Angeles who you have the pleasure of meeting in the first video here.  There will be more excerpts from this story on the way (particularly as YouTube is finally falling before my own technological onslaught), and maybe an epic poem about the sweep down the coast, but in the meantime, please enjoy, to the extent possible, this German-English content on the future of architecture in East Asia and globally.

And, for those needing an intellectual mint — or meditating on the future of Kim Jong Il — a short excerpt from Thomas Carlyle.

Space-age view of Lingang's design at gmp Architecture Firm, Hamburg -- photo by Adam Cathcart


  1. this is a amazing project! but i’m doubt that the little lake in the middle will be polluted … it’s too small that can’t balance with the huge arround environnement.

    The world is really changing to space age . new period of the earth will coming in 2012·

  2. Lingang is indeed amazing, on a huge scale, too. Somehow only the Germans seem to be paying attention to it at the moment (I’ve seen nothing in the English-language or French-language media about it so far)…

    And you make a good point about the context for such a project: it could be totally 常青 but in the big picture of Shanghai/coastal pollution, that may mean very little.

    Then of course you are familiar with people preparing to live at sea, but there again, the problem of trash and pollutants in the water is very serious indeed. Why should we have to prepare to live on another planet when this one is so amenable, yet so vulnerable to abuse?

    Rauteberg concludes his article by comparing Lingang with ATLANTIS…

  3. I know some peoples are preparing to live on anothre planet ,i think i could close to this more in the future. but recently , for the early future. that is not normal people could arrived .so the people prepare to live at sea a more early future…realisable than living in Planet in our short life.

    sometimes the urban planing have a great figure from the far way ,but not realy comfortable living with the mathematique planing … humanite bahavoire are more like Chao .there is two way to let things running: 1. plan a mathematic figure to let the human living inside . 2 . let human living inside and then let the nature chao slowly transfome to methematic figure.

    Hope you understand my poor englis expressing ..:D

    1. The architect is gmp, successful firm (designed also World Cup stadium in South Africa).

      The place to look to the future, besides Lingang, for sea-city unity of architecture, is Hamburg, the base of gmp, and the HafenCity, a new quatier built on a new island. Much more interesting even than Dubai, as it has a symphony concert hall (Elbphilharmonie) very innovative.

      This video on HafenCity has English voice-over (very bad music, though), starting at 1:23 it becomes interesting. Hey! The same video is, thank God, available in French. It makes the bad music more tolerable.

      There is a great video interview (in German) with gmp architect on water and future architecture in Hamburg, and then there are some architectural plans for Hafen here.

      Finally there is much merit in looking at Hamburg as the tip of the spear of European, and specifically German, cultural and economic engagement with China. I’m not clear on how many Chinese architects are employed at gmp, but I would imagine it’s a solid labor market for Chinese architects, futurists, and urban planners.

  4. I’m sorry to say that Lingang is not living up to the hype. I was there two weeks ago and the person I was with commented that little had changed in over two years. The city seems to have been lost to a bureaucratic reshuffle in the Pudong district government. It really has the feeling of a well manicured ghost town with very few buildings. Several of the brand new buildings I visited also suffered from major quality defects including water damage and mold. Perhaps the city’s time will come but not for a while.

    1. Thank you Lowell! This is part of the interest in the “China phenomenon” in the Western press: how many of the futurist projections are actually carried through, and how skillfully? Your phrase “the feeling of a well manicured ghost town” might be true of a few other places…Nevertheless I think that architecture firms in Germany are going to continue their excitement over Chinese projects if for nothing other than economic self interest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s