There's no place like home, farm girls were told 20 years ago. Bored and restless, they gazed daily past their pastures in the direction of Shanghai, two hours away at least. If they had a wish, they'd snap their fingers and in a blinding instant live within the bustling city.
"The best leader does nothing", Confucius said 2400 years ago. But Emperor Yu of the Xia Dynasty would have disagreed. The flood tamer; the river beaker; Emperor Yu dedicated his life to controlling the Yellow River, splitting the monstrous forces into a hydraulic system to supply nine giant provinces with irrigation.
In his short essay entitled Honoring the Past – Inventing the Future two years ago, architect Ma Qingyun's own interpretation of the Confucian saying is that "a great leader does nothing that goes against the river of time, does nothing that leaves irrevocable traces behind." In context of a great city, the soul of Shanghai "is one of tolerance and openness to change", includes Ma, dean of the University of Southern California School of Architecture.
From farmland to skyscrapers, countless farm girls annually move into the city without relocating their homes, as Shanghai's city limits expand outwards at phenomenal rates, swallowing rural areas and pollinating empty pastures with urban residences predicted to hold 25 million people by 2020.
For guiding forces in daily life, some speak of central planning, others speak of the free market's invisible hand, others of divine balance, and yin and yang. But most people just live their lives, let the flow take them along, and watch the lights turn on one by one. [Pete Bradt]