Chinese Fun: The architecture of recreation 18.06.15

For this photo series, Italian photographer Stefano Cerio travelled to Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao and Hong Kong to document the inventive and absurd structures we build for leisure

“More than 70% of all structures in the word are built in China, but the level of maintenance in the country is very low,” photographer Stefano Cerio says of his photo series Chinese fun. The project, which has been published by Hatje Cantz, saw him travel around the country capturing theme parks, resorts and water parks, tired from fun had and eerily absent of visitors.

From huge concrete fruit bowls to a rollercoaster crammed into the interior courtyard of an office complex, the series highlights the artistry and absurdity of recreational architecture once its users are removed. “When these places are empty you can imagine the people that are there – it’s far more interesting,” Cerio says. “I don’t find the photos melancholic, they’re surreal.”

“The mix of pollution and humidity creates desaturated colours at odds with the amusements,” he adds. “In addition, I love the contrast between full and empty, and in China this difference is huge because ‘full’ is really full.”

Images are taken from the book Chinese Fun by Stefano Cerio, published by Hatje Cantz. Icon’s leisure-themed issue also features articles on recreational spaces, including the surprising modernist history of Center Parcs, FAT and Grayson Perry’s House for Essex, Ooze Architects’ King’s Cross swimming pond and Bruno Drummond’s Cedric Price-inspired photo essay



Stefano Cerio



Laura Snoad

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