1. What makes you happy in this city?

Local

Kunming enjoys a particularly great climate and atmosphere. Its unique light reveals many details of the city and its urban landscape. In China, you would be hard-pressed to find any comparable city with similar qualities and I am very happy to be able to live and work in this city.

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Visitor

I am happy to be in China and I love the variety of stunning landscapes, but I live in a city for many reasons – one of them being work opportunities. At the same time, there are few cities in China where one can find blue skies, tree-lined streets and a very gentle climate. Kunming still deserves its nickname “City of eternal Spring”.

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2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN THIS CITY?

Local

In Kunming, I find it inspiring to walk through the city in search of a fresh visual experience. In the past, many old buildings have shaped Kunming’s archetypal identity, but now a lot of these have made way for new buildings. I try to capture and record this particular character before it is gone.

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Visitor

Perhaps something that can be seen and experienced everywhere in China – an incredible development that is sad and inspirational at the same time. Most of Kunming’s older buildings (old, not ancient) are definitely in need of replacement. Qiu He, Kunming’s previous mayor, made great efforts to lift Kunming up to a level where, in the near future, it can hopefully be considered an important Southeast Asian hub.

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3. WHAT WORKS FOR YOU VERY WELL IN THE CITY?

Local

The leisurely pace of the city, the spirit of traditional lifestyle that characterises the city’s daily life as most people still lead a slow-paced life here. I would like to show and share one of the places in the city where this lifestyle is still present and clearly manifests itself.

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Visitor

Most of the city still consists of mainly low-rise buildings – up to eight floors high. The vast majority of these buildings have very low power usage and get their hot water from solar heating. This saves a lot of electricity and gas as Kunming gets plenty of sun throughout the year. Despite a lot of new high-rise construction, these solar panels still inspire the use of solar energy and solar heating.

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4. WHAT WOULD YOU DO BETTER?

Local

The water of the local lake, Dianchi, is seriously polluted and I hope that this can be reversed to improve the water quality. I would like to show the lake in a way that makes the environmental problem visible and easier to grasp.

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Visitor

The city is in great need of change and a lot of relatively old buildings were never constructed with the future in mind, nor do they serve as reminders of the past. Nonetheless, China can look back on a great architectural history and Kunming plays host to a large variety of ethnic minorities – all with their own idiosyncrasies. It would be wonderful to see if, apart from all the massive concrete soulless structures replacing a lot of what is beyond saving, some of that history could be kept through creative integration into modern design.

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5. HOW WOULD YOU DO IT BETTER?

Local

In the past, Kunming has seen the destruction of old buildings and the construction of some new, faux-antique buildings modelled on the original style. Now, more and more people realise the value of the originals – they cannot be copied, so we should protect those that are excellent, worth preserving and representative of the city’s old architecture, like the Yunnan Military Academy. It is all about well-preserved buildings with an architectural style dating back to the 1910s – not richly ornamented, but suffused with the memories of the city.

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Visitor

There have been many efforts to clean up the Dianchi lake and billions of dollars have already been spent on the process. Dianchi is both iconic to the city and one of China’s major fresh water bodies. The lake, covering 115 square miles, is very large and situated on the edge of the city with Kunming at its northern end. Its positioning plays a major role as the lake’s beauty once again becomes apparent, which in turn benefits clean-up efforts because they relate more closely to people’s lives. One day, it could once again turn from a major local and tourist attraction into a primary water source for a thirsty Yunnan Province.

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Curated by Markus M Schneider of Metroprojects, Beijing www.metroprojects.org.