Across Chinse Cities is an international program organized and promoted by Beijing Design Week (BJDW) since its launch at the 2014 International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Developed as a series of exhibition and discursive events, it aims at generating unprecedented content and research around the state of producing, thinking and being in the urban condition of today China, providing access to the practical and theoretical knowledge generated at the crossroads of its unabated challenges and ambitions.

The two projects so far produced featured as official collateral events of the Venice Architecture Biennale, while relevant activities like talks, symposia, publications and spin-off exhibitions have taken place in the context of Beijing Design Week and other cultural institutions and platforms internationally.

You can read more about Across Chinese Cities at the dedicated website WWW.ACROSSCHINESECITIES.ORG.

Editorial content and texts by Beatrice Leanza.

Chief Curators: Beatrice Leanza and Michele Brunello (DONTSTOP Architettura)

For full list of credits and supporting partners and institutions please check the dedicated website.


BEIJING DESIGN WEEK 2013 – ongoing


Launched with a pilot effort in 2009, Beijing Design Week (BJDW) is co-hosted by the Beijing Municipal Government, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, to nurture a culture of design in the Chinese context. With seven key sections – Design Service, Design Award, Design Night, Design Trade, Guest City, Smart City,  and Design HOP – BJDW features hundreds of international exhibitions, public events and trading platforms as the leading design event in the PRC. While offering an expansive overview of China’s transforming design landscape, it serves as a laboratory for innovative perspectives that, from industry to academia, inspire and shape contemporary design discourse and practice.
Beatrice Leanza has acted as creative director and chief curator of the event since 2013.

”In its youthful four years it has grown into a city-wide showcase of hundreds of events covering 7 urban districts, totalling 362 projects with designers and organizations from over 30 countries in 2014. Taking up the creative direction of the event from 2012 offered both the thrill and challenge of shaping a positioning of relevance across the local and international design landscape. BJDW has ever since operated by establishing long-term cooperative frameworks with various stakeholders in the city’s development from governmental planners and educational institutions to companies and individual makers, offering a dialogical and physical arena for design solutions to be tested. A noted example, started in 2013, is the Pilot Program developed in collaboration with the historic district of Dashilar, which has contributed heavily in raising public and officials’ awareness to the contentious issues of urban renewal and preservation.

BJDW’s innervation in the built and social fabric of the city embodies an active engagement in nurturing while questioning the role and impact of design for the 21st century global city. Every year this contextual dialogue is rendered via thematic-driven explorations and calls for projects devised to test the boundaries of design knowledge within selected zones of the capital. This unique outlook has rendered BJDW a reference platform, investigating the widening economic and cultural implications of what ‘designing for China’ means today and tomorrow.
Various features have appeared on international media outlets over the past two years, including The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Figaro, Liberation/NEXT, Dezeen, Wallpaper, Core77, Metropolis, IDEAT, Surface Asia, T Magazine, Domus, Abitare, Disegno, The Good Life, Elle Décor Italy, among many others.”

BJDW 2015 runs Sept 24 – Oct 7.

For more information please use the contact page or see links on bjdw.org

THE READER: Across Chinese Cities – BJ


Concept and Editorial Direction :: Beatrice LEANZA
Editorial Assistants :: HAN Chang, ZHAO Ying, Claudia FENG
Copy editing and proofreading :: David Drakeford
Designed by :: LI Xibin and SUN Xiaoyu from D-T-Z-W Design Studio
Published by :: Beijing Design Week, June 2014

Published on the occasion of the exhibition Across Chinese Cities – Beijing, an official collateral event of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, THE READER is as complementary research tool inclusive of a rich textual selection from original sources excerpted from existing historical and critical literature, fiction, journalism, blogs and articles, in Chinese and foreign languages. Some of the Chinese texts appearing here have been translated in English for the first time. THE READER is oragnized in 7 thematic chapters referencing  and complementing those articulating the show, namely:

The Outer and Inner City (on Architecture and Urban History)
Cultural Hub
Historic Industries and Commercial Ecology
The People’ Factor and The Real Estate of  Things
The Pre-Olympic Conundrum (A City that was)
Preservation, Friend or Foe?
Communities and The Architecture of Relationships

Contributors included experts and participants to the exhibition:

Michele MATTEINI, Aric CHAN, Laura Trombetta PANIGALDI, Abitare China magazine, Approach Architecture, CAFA – Central Academy of Fine Arts, Matali CRASSETT, CYJO, Instant Hutong, Kenya Hara studio, LAVA design agency, Lumalu, Meta Hutongs, People Architecture Foundation, People’s Architecture Office, reMIX Architecture, SANS Practice, Varvara SHAVROVA, Standardarchitecture, Studio Ramoprimo + MDDM Studio, The DaZhaLan Project (CAO Fei and OU Ning), Jia Yong, MAD Architects, Michael YOUNG, HUA Xinmin, CUI Yong


Rethinking Relationality


Rethinking Relationality (or the artist as bricoleur)

Published by: cura.books
Produced by: qwatz, artist in residence program – Rome
Editor: Beatrice Leanza 


Essays and words by:

Beatrice Leanza (curator The Human Factor), Mami KATAOKA (chief curator Mori Art Museum, Tokyo), Pauline J.YAO (curator M+ museum, Hong Kong), June YAP (curator Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative – South and Southeast Asia), Mike SPERLINGER (assistant director LUX, London), Chris MANN (composer and performer), and the artists.

An Introduction by Benedetta Di Loreto (director qwatz, artist in residence program – Rome)


Part of the project The Human Factor organized by qwatz, artist in residence program – Rome and curated by Beatrice Leanza, the publication features Koki Tanaka, Charles Lim, Hong-Kai Wang and Liang Shuo,  the four artists who were part of an exhibition of the same title held at Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese (May 23 – June 3), presenting  a selection of both existing and newly created works as a result of a two-months research period at qwatz in April and May 2012.

The book collects the critical reflections of artists, leading writers and curators invited to expound upon this cross-section of Asian contemporary art practices, as proponents of discerning perspectives around the meaning and criticality of ‘rethinking relationality’  in order to reinforce transregional narratives within global cultural practice and discourse.

Arranged in four focused chapters (1.Situational Objects – 2.Beautiful Evidence – 3.Musical Memory – 4.Neutral Spaces) the commissioned contributions – presented in form of essay, interview or deferred dialogical experiment – incubate deepening social and philosophical interpretations departing from each artists’ practice by rendering a transformational architecture of experiential knowledge that identifies itself with change and situated relations:  through the sonic space of speaking and listening (Hong-kai Wang), in the sensorial and affective relationship with things and people (Koki Tanaka), in the social and aesthetic process of inhabiting (Liang Shuo), in the construction of narrative dispositives mapping real and imaginary territories (Charles Lim).

‘Relationality’ is addressed here as a crucible for the articulation of theoretical thinking that can eventually interrogate normative paradigms of visual and material production engrained in the Western modern project and its contemporary accounts. Taking an interest in a history of associations of ‘relation’ within transcultural positions that advocate divergent models of sociability, materiality, concepts of interdependence and spatiality, this publication looks at the work of writer and poet Edouard Glissant as a guiding intellectual inspiration for an exploration of the entanglements of contemporaneity and globalism stemming from other-than-western historical and aesthetic traditions.

Language: English
Dimension (Width x Height): 140×200
Color: blue and CMYB
Pages: 80
Graphic Design: Andrea Baccin
Editor: Beatrice Leanza
Year: 2012
Produced by qwatz artist in residence program Rome
ISBN: 978-88-97889-10-6


The project THE HUMAN FACTOR is made possible by the generous contribution of various supporters and sponsors:

Ines Musumeci Greco; Agi Verona; Japan Foundation; Cultural Affair Department, New Taipei City Government; FARE in collaboration with Open Care and with the support of Fondazione Cariplo, NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, GAI – Associazione Circuito Giovani Artisti Italiani; O’A.I.R.; ArchiviAzioni;  ROMA CAPITALE, Museo Pietro Canonica in Villa Borghese – musei in Comune, in collaboration with Acea, BNL, Unicredit, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Acqua Claudia, Finmeccanica, Lotto, Vodafone, with the support of Atac, la Repubblica.




Italian Architects and Designers in China—Call for Ideas!

27 September – October 6, 2012
Beijing Design Week, Beijing


A project promoted by the Embassy of Italy to the People’s Republic of China in collaboration with Beijing Design Week 2012.
Supported by: Rizzoli China, Beijing Industrial Design Centre
Exhibition: 751-DPark, Watertank (Beijing Design Fair), 27 September – 2 October, 2012
(posters and custom envelope: 60 x 90 cm)


The call for ideas promoted by the Embassy of Italy to the P.R.C was launched on the occasion of BJDW 2012 as an open platform for creative expression dedicated to the large community of China-based Italian studios and independent professionals in the field of architecture and design. Dubbed Density 0%, it asked for original visual contributions and reflections around the much urgent and debated topic of ‘urban density’. Participants were to submit realistic or imaginative renderings of a space of pause and suspension responsive to the highly congested cityscapes of contemporary China. Chinese urban areas are spaces of flow per excellence where spontaneous forms of communal anchorage and aggregation seem inexorably thinning out of their spatial memory while increasingly becoming product of artificial zoning built in new commercial and residential quarters insulated from the porous fabric of the ‘social’.  The theme ensues from a wider perspective, one that concerns man and ‘world’ – world intended as a space of sharing and coexistence, therefore a prelude to a process of action for and of the community that is inseparable from a form of ethical and civic thinking. The participants had to offered their own interpretation and perception of a possible space of decompression and its functions, a hiatus within the uninterrupted urban context, in form of an image, providing a title and short description of the concept.

The posters were also presented in an exhibition on display in the Watertank of 751 D-PARK, one of the main hubs of the design festival, and were collected in a limited edition publication realized by Rizzoli China.


The Jing Issue

A special Beijing insert for CA (CasaAmica) architecture and design magazine
CA – CasaAmica October 2011 | 22-page insert

concept/editing ::  Beatrice LEANZA
graphic design ::  ourwork.is
contributors ::  Beatrice LEANZA (texts and translations), XIAO Longhua (illustrations), Nod YOUNG (illustrations), SONG Min (texts and translations), Cici WANG (texts and translations), Boris SHIU (photos), FANG Zhenning (photos)

On the occasion of the first Beijing International Design Week 2011, Italian CA magazine commissioned a special Beijing-themed insert—a guided journey and a design portrait of the city as seen through its characteristic spatial typologies. Following CA’s editorial structure, generally organized according to seven keywords pointing to a thematic focus, The “(Bei)Jing Issue” indexes instead seven ‘key-spaces’ which are explored as micro-universes where things and people speak for themselves, to and of the city. With an opening and closing section respectively dubbed “Entrance (rukou)” and “Exit (chukou)”, the seven key spaces/chapters unveil a city that like a mysterious Chinese box is made of infinite worlds-within-world. Macro- to micro- and back again, we start from rooms, houses, gardens and courtyards, traverse urban villages, old factories and entire districts, to eventually land in the digital mazes of social networks.

Key spaces:

  • 环路 / Anelli & Griglie / Grids & Rings
  • 胡同 / Vetrine / Storefronts
  • 四合院 / Giardini Segreti / Courtyards
  • / Villaggi in Città / Minimal Heavens
  • 场地 / Magazzini & Depositi / Mighty Warehouses
  • 内外 / Beijing Interiors
  • 微波 / Nella Rete / Webs


Xijing: The work of the Xijing Men collective

exhibition catalogue
Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation | Venice, IT
organized in collaboration with Arthub Asia

editor ::  Beatrice LEANZA
catalogue design ::  Hironori Oooka Office | Tokyo, JP
publisher ::  Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa
details ::  Italian and English | full color | 60 pp.

Realized on the occasion of the first institutional exhibition of the Xijing Men collective, the catalogue features the first complete survey of its work from 2007 until today. The book includes written introductions and images of 11 projects including the Venetian one. With contributions by Angela VETTESE (director Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa) Arthub Asia (Davide QUADRIO & Defne AYAS) and an essay by Beatrice LEANZA.

CDM 2011

CDM 2011 – Rizzoli Beijing

April 12 – 17, 2011
Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Milan Design Week
Pasticceria (Via Tortona) | Milano, IT

graphic project and media kit ::  ourwork.is

The catalogue for the CDM 2011 project was realized as a publication integral to the exhibition WoYou: Beijing & Shanghai Travelogues in Design. Conceived in the form of a travel journal, each of the 10 design projects were therein presented through individual stories where the research processes and narrative inspiration behind the creative work were featured in dedicated, richly illustrated articles.

CDM 2010

CDM 2010 – Rizzoli Beijing

April 14 – 19, 2010
Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Milan Design Week
Design Library | Milano, IT

graphic project and media kit ::  ourwork.is

The catalogue for the CDM 2010 project was integrated to the media pack as a detachable booklet inclusive of articles about the Chinese design market, curatorial text and all featured products with technical charts and descriptions indexed by category (furniture, lights, fashion, graphics, sound and art editions).


Emporium:  A New Common Sense of Space

November 4 – December 8, 2009
Museo della Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci | Milano, IT

curation :: Beatrice LEANZA
exhibition design and graphic project :: studio dotdotdot, Milan
catalogue design :: LI Naihan

artists ::  AHN Doojin, AHN Kanghyun, AN Jungju, BAE Young Whan, BIRDHEAD (SONG Tao & JI Weiyu), GAO Shiqiang, HASHIMOTO Satoshi, Elaine W. HO for HomeShop, JUNG Yeondoo, KIM Gisoo , KIM Sangdon, LEE Wooyeon, LI Naihan, LIANG Shuo, MATSUBARA Megumi, MIN Ji Ae, NI Haifeng for ARROW FACTORY, NIWA Yotaro, QIU Xiaofei, Siren Eun Young JUNG, TANAKA Koki, MICHIKAZU Matsune for THE SHOP, XIJING MEN (GIMhongsok, CHEN Shaoxiong & OZAWA Tsuyoshi), YAN Jun, YANG Jun, KIMURA Yuki, KIMURA Taiyo

Emporium: A New Common Sense of Space exhibition catalogue, full color images and curatorial essay by Beatrice LEANZA. Customized lettertype for mail visual. Digital invitation and posters.

Selected for best exhibition design in ADI – Design Index 2010 as finalist for the Compasso D’Oro Award.

Radical (In)difference

Radical (In)difference: Thoughts and gatherings around flexibility in public and artistic practice

2009 – 2010
Research and program proposal for Pro Helvetia Swiss-China two-year Cultural Program

Radical (In)difference is a progressive program of analysis, discourse, documentation production and curatorial activism in three tempi. The dossier describes a year-long tool-making process of giving physical shape and territory to dialogue. Through constant documentation and real-time mapping of these semantic exercises, richness is made relational, reflective, narrative and spatial.

The program is envisioned to generate confrontation as a modicum to constructive discussion, and while drawing a framework of reference for theoretical, artistic and curatorial praxis, it challenges the establishment of alternative forms of interaction, dialogue for a critical, creative community.
The three main discursive areas grouped under each section are conceived in a progressive build-up, which will explore issues relevant to COMMUNITY / NETWORKING, INDIVIDUALITY / SUBJECTIVITY and PUBLIC SPACE / COLLECTIVE IMAGINATION.  Each tempo is exposed into a specific format for public fruition and circulation (1:: a forum, 2:: a printed and online documentation series, 3:: an exhibition), all throughout implemented by small and medium scale multidisciplinary events ranging from workshops, artistic collaborations, open talks and exhibitions in collaboration with a variety of international professionals.


Borderline – Moving Images

June 23 – July 1, 2007
various locations | Beijing, CN

The graphic project included visual identity and design for all communication material, posters, flyers, invitations and web. The festival published also a free independent journal chronicling all events and projects. The main visuals is inspired by Beijing City sprawling mobility, each character of the title Borderline (边界线) is cut out of a simplified map of the city.

main organizers :: BAO Atelier & Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing
in collaboration with: Soho China, Ltd., 86/33 Link, Theatre in Motion, Chaos Projects
supporting institutions :: CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts), Beijing Film Academy, Goethe Institute Peking, Austrian Cultural Forum, Norwegian Office of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Belgium in China, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations (Mexico), Icelandic Art Center
sponsored by :: MinSheng Bank, Barco, Boloni Group, Intelligent Alternative
media partners :: Modern Media, Domus China, Time Out Beijing, Danwei.org, City Pictorial, City Weekend, Vision, Art&Design China

Three Exhibitions in a Box

September 2006

editor ::  Beatrice LEANZA
design ::  Duoxiang Studio
contributors ::  Beatrice LEANZA, OU Ning, Hee-yeon PARK
publisher ::  Platform China Contemporary Art Institute | Beijing, CN

Catalogue for the first edition of Borderline – Moving Images Festival (2006). The book is divided into three main sections following the main exhibition Video in A Box:  “Anymansland” – “Straits” – “Nomansland”. Each section features images, texts and brief descriptions of the works, visualized through different layouts and paper. Like an harmonica, the book can be further opened up to A3 size, revealing additional text content, essays by the curator and a complete list of events and projects featured in the festival.


A mini magazine for Domus China

May 2006
Project proposal for DOMUS China magazine: a special year-long monthly insert titled Iterations©, drawing upon local spatial modalities and the artistic system

From our proposal:

Emerging as the focused theme of the forthcoming 10th Venice Architecture Biennale Cities Architecture and Society, “the interactions between cities, their built form and their inhabitants” are regarded as key factors to understanding how contemporary social, economic, and cultural transformations are affecting the way people live, work and move within large-scale metropolitan areas around the world. How do local city environments iterate global forms and (alternatively?) deal with them? The implications of the rise of creative industries in China is not only a symptomatic feature of social change but a fundamental factor shaping the city’s spatial development, informing the way intellectual capacity is channeled (textual, gestural, representational) through its different productive compartments.

Each section is realized as an actual model, a charted 3-D projection of all the collaborations initiated throughout. At the end of one year Iterations will be both a precious archive and a source for a multimedia exhibition, displayed on the basis of the design realized for the magazine and articulated through its embedded theoretical implications.



Object Cast


author & editor ::  Beatrice LEANZA
contributions by ::  Gianni VATTIMO and AI Weiwei
graphic design ::  LI Naihan
language ::  English with Chinese translations
ISBN ::  988-99015-0-1
published and distributed by ::  Timezone 8

A project stemming from the homonymous exhibition featuring Italian artist Andrea GOTTI and Beijing based sound-artist duo FM3 (Christiaan VIRANT and ZHANG Jian), held at B.T.A.P. (Beijing Tokyo Art Project) gallery in Beijing from January 26 – March 26, 2006.

It is structured into three main sections. Each of the sections is entrenched into a different reading speed, highlighted by the different devices used to express it (image, sound, text), as well as by shape, material and reading orientation.
The reading activity is lead through by three diverse time performances (circular, point-like and linear) as embedded in the architecture of the book itself.

The featured material consists of: photos (archival material of past journeys taken by Andrea GOTTI around China and relevant to the installation theme, a time-line of the work in progress of the featured installation, together with “pictorial” still-lives and GOTTI’s preparatory works), written files (the essays by the author blending critique and intellectual fiction; academic contribution and philosophical artistry from East and West are confronted in the pieces by philosopher Gianni VATTIMO and artist AI Weiwei) and sound files (a CD card embedded inside the book, cast in a 3 mm thick transparent acrylic sheet containing sonic architecture by FM3).

This book is an immersive reading tool that engages the eye, the ear and the mind. It is a playful and synaesthetic experience that breaks away from the common use of books as binding linear reading. It invites the reader to an interactive reinvention and deconstruction of its different parts.