Vertical Urban Factory exhibit comes to Kean


Informational display shown when entering the exhibit. Credit: Gail Fredericks

By: Gail Fredricks | Published Feb. 11, 2016

Rural China is surging toward an urban lifestyle, and the exhibition that showcases the movement, The Vertical Urban Factory, is now opened in Kean University’s Michael Graves School of Architecture. This traveling exhibition that has been shown in New York, Detroit, London and Laussanne is expected to run from late January through the end of March.

The exhibition focuses on how China and all of East Asia is changing, and changing fast. A whole new way of living is emerging, going from rural, agricultural lifestyles to those of urban factories. The way people have been living in China has changed completely, and the exhibition documents a substantial period of change in East Asia in terms of how people live.

“Think of it this way,” said David Mohney, Dean of Michael Graves School of Architecture. “In the last 10 years, the number of people who have moved from living in little villages in the countryside working for a few dollars a day, to an urban factory where they are making more money, is equal to the whole population of America.”

The architectural design and cities these factories are built in are essentially designed to make the lives of people in East Asia better. The architectural and engineering advancements today is what can create these complexes which make it essential and convenient to live in.

For example, as one of the displays shows, many South Korean companies established factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, not far from the Demilitarized Zones, where they could take advantage of cheaper labor and compete with China. This resulted in over 100 factories employing over 50,000 workers,an increase in wages, and companies such as Hyundai adding amenities such as arts centers for the community.

Kean University already has a campus in China, Wenzhou-Kean, which is designed to prepare students for the globalized economy and culture of the 21st century. It is only fitting to display an exhibit portraying one of the fastest transformations of living that has already begun creating more resources and opportunities.

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