New Horizon_architecture from Ireland opens at the Dacheng Flour Factory, Shekou on December 4th 2015 and runs until March 4th 2016 as part of the 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen). For this final iteration, Shan-Zhen presents a fascinating audio-visual installation of photography and film will follow the connection between the Irish city of Shannon and its historical influence on shaping the city of Shenzhen.

New Horizon presents the work of two practices in the Ireland Pavilion in Shenzhen: AP+E (Jeffrey Bolhuis and Laurence Lord) and Urban Agency (Andrew Griffin, Maxime Laroussi, Heechan park and Henning Stüben). Working with Irish photographer and filmmaker Matthew Thompson and Areaman Productions, they have created a sensory environment of concentric curtains within which two short films exhibit parallels in the daily life of both Shannon and Shenzhen today.

After WWII, the rural town of Shannon on the west coast of Ireland became established as a transatlantic refuelling point, and in 1959 was developed as the world’s first Free Trade Zone and New Town. Through tax incentives, multinationals from the US were attracted to set up their European headquarters there, providing a new type of business model. On the other side of the globe, China was starting to develop its urbanisation policy and was interested in how Shannon had successfully decentralised its administration. After many visits in the early 1980s by Chinese leaders to study this model, under the direction of Deng Xiaoping, the Shannon planning system was used as a template in the formation of Shenzhen, and since rolled out in many Chinese cities.

The idea that the fundamental principles behind Shenzhen were originally modelled on a small Irish town and the spectacular jump in scale that the concept has undergone since, is the starting point of the Ireland Pavilion. The historical connection between both cities is told through archive photographs while the current connection between both places is investigated through the medium of two short documentary films.