China Samples Some SostenibilitÃ : (Re) made in Italy
If it's not there already, China, the world's largest construction site, biggest factory, and fastest growing consumer, seems on the verge of a tipping point of eco-awareness or environmental disaster (as John McGrath quoted Samuel Johnson recently, "when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."). Italy, on the other hand, is one of Europe's biggest treehuggers, at least when it comes to green goods. The latter recently hosted a "green" Olympics; the former has practically turned "Green Olympics" into a mantra. So it was a happy moment when we learned of the recently-finished Sino-Italian Green Week, which highlighted and inaugurated dozens of cooperative projects to protect the environment and improve sustainability in the land of coal-fire(d) breathing dragons. The projects sound impressive: professional exchanges, water preservation projects, investigations into hydrogen powe and other renewable energy, and a brand-new 20,000 sq m. sustainable building at Tsinghua University, designed by Italian Mario Cucinella.
While it remains to be seen of course how much mileage projects like these (valued at €186 million) will get in the weeks following Green Week (fortunately, they're on the "fast track to success," says China) one project in particular is exciting us right now for the way it brings sustainability home. Earlier in the week, Italy's Ministry of the Environment opened an elegant exhibition on sustainability titled "Italian Visions: Design and Architecture for a Sustainable Environment." Held at the National Museum, on the east side of Tiananmen Square, the exhibit showcases sustainable design as it exists in different realms of Italian life (from childhood to the kitchen to travel and beyond), displays an attractive array of green design and architecture by Italian designers, and features a wall of sleek recycled products and stats on how much material each saves (see the recycled aluminum bicycle and bookshelf, above). If you're in Beijing, check it out after seeing the rest of the museum; the exhibit runs until the 28th of July. : : Sino Italian Environmental Cooperation