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Oct 16th 2020

Oct 10th 2021




The city to come

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La Mostra

An exhibition
at MAO Museo d’Arte Orientale
di Torino.

October 16th 2020
October 10th 2021

In 1978, 18% of the population in China lived in urban areas. Since then the number of inhabitants in cities has increased approximately 1% per annum and currently makes up 60% of the total population. New infrastructures and settlements have gradually modified the landscape, transformed property rights, swept away administrative boundaries, and “gobbled up” rural spaces and villages.

The rapid, disruptive process of Chinese urbanisation unfolds before our eyes. Understanding it is not easy. Existing categories and models are useless. If we believe Chinese urbanisation to simply be an exaggeration and a flaw, we are effectively ignoring the fact it constitutes an epochal change, one which redefines roles and relationships not only from a geo-economic and geopolitical point of view, but also from the point of view of culture, imagination and possibilities. A change that the current pandemia makes ever more deep and hard. 
China Goes Urban proposes to change viewpoint, to look at reality rather than pigeonhole it in predefined categories and models. It is an invitation to explore the world by travelling through the city and architecture of today and tomorrow and circumnavigating the concept of city: although we all think we are familiar with and understand this seemingly simple concept, it shatters in the multiplicity of the contemporary urban.
Tongzhou, Zhaoqing, Zhengdong and Lanzhou are the new towns where we start to explore and where the exhibition begins.



Photographs and videos, installations, maquette, data and infographics drive visitors along two logical itineraries.

The first one gradually deconstructs the idea that Chinese urbanisation is exceptional starting from the reconstruction of an “exhibition hall” in which developers and public administrations “stage” the city. The diversity and exoticism normally associated with Chinese cities are then chip away. By showing the ordinary everyday life unfolding in the new settlements, videos, images, installations and  explanations gradually make new Chinese urbanisations more “familiar”.

The second itinerary begins from  empty, distant, and lifeless spaces. Gradually, however, the same spaces become more animated: the photographs and videos narrow the gap between the visitors and the persons portrayed, their faces, gestures and movements. So similar to our faces and movements.

Tongzhou, Zhaoqing, Zhengdong and Lanzhou are the new towns where we start to explore and where the exhibition begins, moving from China to the world, and then back, from the world to the specific features of the new settlements.

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To explore Chinese urbanization and question the features of the contemporary urban, China goes urban is organised around four main topics.


Urbanisation as a transcalar process

According to the UN, we live in the urban age. Since 2007 most of the world’s population lives in cities. The Chinese urbanisation is part of this global urban model made of relationships and flows, exchanges and intersections. Seeing from the global scale, Chinese new towns document the multiple forms of today urbanisation in which not everything is city, but everything is driven by the urban and show limits, contradictions and possibilities of today urban and economic development model.



Urban fragments 

At first sight we can describe Chinese new towns by listing a whole host of heterogeneous, discontinuous buildings and spaces. Each one appears to go in its own direction, impossible to reciprocally connect, and impossible to interpret univocally. At the same time, the fragmented nature of Chinese new towns higlights the radical multiplicity of the constant process of the construction of space and reveals the many worlds that have always made up the urban.


Viaducts, airports, railway stations, railway lines, and highways dominate the transformation of the landscape. Miles of pipes, cables, and conduits are hidden underground; telecommunications and satellite networks fill the air while their sensors continue ad infinitum to exchange invisible but omnipresent waves and microwaves.

Infrastructures are not just a background, a silent stage on which players and powers recite their roles. They are also, and perhaps above all, political, economic and social structures that define and support every aspect of urban life.

Urban and rural, and back again

On one side, the city, lights, skyscrapers, and roads full of traffic and people; on the other, the countryside, cultivated fields, farmers, and tractors moving in a rarefied, suspended atmosphere. This demarcation, so simple and clear, clashes with the reality before our eyes. Where does the city end and the countryside begin? The city is everywhere and in everything. Urban and rural are combined and superimposed, creating a sort of chameleon in which distinctions dissolve, differences are camouflaged, and predefined orders disappear.


to learn more

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Thursday September 30th 2021

6.00 PM


Liberi Libri: Federico Antonelli e Filippo Santelli

With Alberto Bradanini, Centro Studi sulla Cina Contemporanea, Pierre -Alain Croset, Politecnico di MilanoSergio Pace, Università di Torino, in dialogue with Federico Antonelli, Università Roma Tre, author of "Il diritto cinese. Dall’antica alla nuova via della seta" e Filippo Santelli, La Repubblica, author of "La Cina non è una sola"


Debates within the rooms of the museum, presented by Claudio Jampaglia


Saturday October 24, 2020, from 3 PM | Reading the City: Close up, from Afar

with Alessandro Amaducci, Università di Torino, and Samuele Pellecchia, Exhibition curator. WATCH


Saturday October 31, 2020, from 3 PM | The Power of Infrastructure

with Giorgio Cuscito, Limes, and Francesca Governa, Exhibition curator. WATCH

Saturday November 7, 2020, from 3 PM | The Urban Dream

with Daniele Brombal, Università Ca' Foscari and T.wai, and Michele Bonino, Exhibition curator. WATCH


Saturday November 14, 2020, from 3.00 PM | Urban Materials and Urban Designs

with Augusto Cagnardi, Gregotti Associati International, and Francesco Carota, Politecnico di Torino. WATCH

In collaboration with Biennale Tecnologia 






Remarks on China and the world, by some Politecnico di Torino scholars

Thursday November 19, 2020, at 3 PM | City and Innovation

with Plinio Innocenzi, Università di Sassari, and Roberto Pagani, Politecnico di Torino, Scientific Officer at the Shanghai Consulate

Thursday December 3, 2020, at 5 PM | Rethinking the Traditional Chinese Village

with Carla Bartolozzi, Politecnico di Torino, and Du Qian, Shanghai Jiaotong University 

Wednesday December 9, 2020, at 5 PM | The Progress of the Construction Industry in China

with Bruno Briseghella, Fuzhou University, Giuseppe Carlo Marano, Politecnico di Torino, and Camillo Nuti, Università RomaTre


Thursday December 17, 2020, at 3 PM | Towards Socially Integrative Cities with Francesca Frassoldati, Politecnico di Torino, and the authors of the book on sustainable cities in Europe and China (event in english)

Wednesday January 7, 2021, at 5 PM | An Oriental Idea of Postmodernism

with Antonio di Campli, Politecnico di Torino




Dialogues and points of view on the places of Chinese urbanization

Thursday March 4 2021 at 4 PM | China Goes Urban. China changing between society and urbanization

with Giada Massetti, sinologist and author of the essay about China Nella testa del Dragone. Identità e ambizioni della Nuova Cina. Event in collaboration with Skira

Thursday March 25 2021 at 6 PM | Lin Huiyin's Shadow and Stars. Portrait of a young woman between architecture and poetry in 1930s China

with Marco Trisciuoglio, Politecnico di Torino

Thursday May 6, 2021, at 6 PM | The perception of the city in Xi Jinping's China

with Stefania Stafutti, Università di Torino


Dialogues on the places of Chinese Urbanization

Thursday March 11, 2021, at 6 PM | The Inner Mongolia Model: News from the Northern Front

with Steve Bisson, Paris College of Art, Alessandro Zanoni, artdirector-photographer

Thursday April 8, 2021, at 6 PM | New Districts and Beautified Villages in Urban China 

with Gary Hack, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Tim Oakes, University of Colorado Boulder (event in english) WATCH

Thursday April 22, 2021, at 1 PM | Displaying the City 

with Ole Bouman, Design Society Shenzhen, and Beatrice Leanza, MAAT Lisbon (event in english) WATCH




Wednesday November 11, 2020, at 2.30 PM | China Goes Urban - The City to Come

International conference with renowned architectural and urban scholars. 

with Ash Amin, University of Cambridge, Bian Lanchun, Tsinghua University, Ann Forsyth, Harvard University, Liu Jian, Tsinghua University, Lu Andong, Nanjing University, Bernhard Müller, Technische Universität Dresden, Brent D. Ryan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the curator of the exhibition Michele Bonino and Francesca Governa, Politecnico di Torino (event in english). WATCH  

In collaboration with Biennale Tecnologia

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your visit

China Goes Urban

The city to come

from October 16th 2020 to October 10th 2021

The current health situation has guided the design of the exhibition path, leading to technological solutions that allow the exhibition to be enjoyed safely, avoiding gatherings, and with ad hoc multimedia content, usable on your smartphone, designed to deepen the contents while waiting.

MAO Museo d'Arte Orientale

Via San Domenico, 11 - Torino

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm

Thursday from 1pm to 9pm

Closed on Monday - The ticket office closes one hour earlier

Full ticket: 10 €

Reduced ticket (from 6 to 18 years old, from 19 to 25 years old if students, people with disabilities, groups, affiliated entities): 8 €

Free ticket (children under 6, accompanying person with disabilities, Museum Pass, Torino + Piemonte Card)

China Goes Urban ticket + permanent collection: full € 14; reduced 12 €



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The visitor flow regulation system with digital interface was created thanks to the contribution of

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