Unfolding the Creativity and Vitality of Cultural Buildings – Shenzhen

At the end of 2018, the People’s Government of Shenzhen issued the Plan for Shenzhen to Accelerate the Construction of Major Cultural and Sports Facilities, which prioritized the planning and construction of ten new cultural facilities that will be presented to the public as new cultural landmarks.

Yet, in addition to the quality of space, the planning and construction of cultural and sports facilities should also take into account the contents of these venues and their operation and management.

Unfortunately, during the nationwide upsurge of cultural venue construction over the past decade, we got frequently obsessed with distinctive appearance of buildings and just ignored the configuration of the requisite “software”.

That resulted in content-less venues that weren’t able to effectively improve the level of people’s cultural life despite enormous investment in “hardware”. Regarding the development of cultural facilities, compared with architectural design, how to coordinate between venue operation, culture and commerce and bring desirable cultural experience to the public matter more.

How to maintain the vitality of these venues through operation? What operation and management challenges cultural facilities are facing,  and how to establish appropriate mechanisms and processes for them?

In this session of Design & Life, we will walk you through the Sea World Culture and Arts Center to get a glimpse of its design concept and daily operation mode and reflect upon the operation and revitalization of the cultural facilities in Shenzhen. 

Part1: Architecture Tour

Time: 14:00-15:00, September 1st, 2019

Place: Sea World Culture and Arts Center (1187 Wanghai Road, Shekou, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, 100m from Exit C of Sea World Station, Metro Line 11)

Staging area:Park View Gallery on 1/F

About Sea World Culture and Arts Center

The Sea World Culture & Arts Center operated by Design Society, seeks to create a unique cultural experience for the general public, to build a public space dedicated to design and activating design as an inspiration for life and society.

With its world-class exhibitions, diverse interactive events and experiential shopping atmosphere, its objective is to bring to the public a new sense of quality and way of life.


Its creative ecology of exhibitions, public events, shops and restaurants, has participation and interaction as guiding principles. People can shop, watch, play, participate, or relax and be nurtured.

As the first building by Maki and Associates in China, the Sea World Culture and Arts Center houses exhibition spaces at the Main Gallery, V&A Gallery, Park View Gallery, and Shenzhen UCCN Exchange Center; multipurpose event spaces as the Mountain View Theater and the multi-functional space Horizon Hall with a panoramic sea view of the Shenzhen Bay.

Guest Guides

Ole Bouman Director of CMSK Design Society

Ole Bouman is the Founding Director of the new creative platform Design Society in Shenzhen since 2015, now in the second year of its full operation and listed by Time Magazine among the World Greatest Places.

Past roles include editor-in-chief of Volume (2005-2007, a magazine he co-founded with OMA and Columbia University) and director of the national Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi) (2006-2013).

He worked as a curator for Manifesta 3 (2000), and curated nationale pavilions at the Biennales of Shenzhen, São Paulo and Venice. He was Creative Director of the Urbanism/Architecture Bi-City Biennale Shenzhen (UABB) in 2013-14.

His publications include The Invisible in Architecture (co-author, 1994), Ubiquitous China (2006), Architecture of Consequence (2009) and (co-editor, 2017) Design Society: the Making of a New Creative Platform.

Among others, Bouman taught architecture and design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Hong Kong. He received the Shenzhen Creative Influencer Award of 2018.

Zhao Rong: Deputy Director of CMSK Design Society

Zhao Rong joined China Merchants Shekou (CMSK) in 2012, she has since played a key role in establishing Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC) ─ The very first creative industrial project initiated by CMSK, assisted CMSK to form the partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

SWCAC opened in December 2017, and it was listed in the Top 100 Greatest Places of 2019 by Times. In her current role as deputy director of Design Society, she manages research, programming and development.

She led the curation of major exhibitions including Minding the Digital (2017), Craft: The Reset (2018), Rong: Sun Mao (2019) among others. She worked in Clark Art Institute (2009), Williams College Museum of Art (2010), National Art Museum of China (2005-2008) among others.

She participated in the establishment of the Beijing office of Chinese Pavilion in La Biennale di Venezia (2005). She has been nominated as a member of Shenzhen Youth Federation in 2017.

Part 2: Theme Forum

Time: 15:20-18:00, September 1st, 2019

Venue: Mountain View Theater, 3F, the Sea World Culture and Arts Center

Keynote Speakers

Yan Weixin Director of Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning
Liu Xiaodu Director of Pingshan Art Museum, Partner of URBANUS
Zhou Li Art Director and Artist of OCT Box Art Museum
Ole Bouman Director of CMSK Design Society
Zhao Rong: Deputy Director of CMSK Design Society
Liu Lei Director of Shenzhen Center for Design

About Design Society

Design Society is an innovative cultural initiative founded by China Merchants Shekou (CMSK), a company engaged in comprehensive urban development under the 147-year-old China Merchants Group, and co-founded by Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

As a creative platform, Design Society has already built an extensive network of partners, contributors and supporters from China and around the world, across academia, business, governmental affairs and education, as well as through collaborations with major museums, residential programmes and archival institutions.

With the advice of industry experts, the growth of this network demonstrates the overlapping creative practices – closely bound to society and industry – vital to the sustainability of Design Society.

An extensive membership programme offers exclusive industry opportunities and career acceleration activities, elevating Design Society as a leading resource on both a local and international scale.

About Design & Life

When life begins to recognize design,
When design begins to rebuild life,
The city where we live,
Its distinctive features,
As design and life integrates with each other.

Design & Life is hosted by the Department of Urban and Architectural Design, Shenzhen Urban Planning and Natural Resources Bureau and organized by Shenzhen Center for Design.

It will be like a live version of Behind the Headlines with Wen Tao (a TV show where three persons comment on certain topics) themed on design, accompanied with small interesting events like Architecture Trip guided by designers, workshops and exhibitions.

By offering the public an exciting opportunity of face-to-face communication with the designers, it attempts to disseminate creative culture, bring design closer to daily life and improve the quality of life via design in response to the great mission of developing Shenzhen into a City of Design.

Host: Department of Urban and Architectural Design, Shenzhen Urban Planning and Natural Resources Bureau.

Organizer: Shenzhen Center for Design, Design Society