The country's building boom has given rise to a look that's fresh but also uniquely Chinese.

What should China look like? That's a question architects all over the country are grappling with.

As China expands rapidly, architects struggle to maintain a sense of history and authenticity in their designs. These concerns are amplified not only by the scale and banality of so many new skyscrapers and mega-projects, but also by the bizarre, western-themed neighborhoods that have popped up around the country.

Shanghai architects Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu recently organized a series of discussions about the need for a new design manifesto for China. The symposium took place inside a gallery they designed, a former colonial-era police station in Shanghai. “A lot of architects in the U.S. are lost, but there are no projects," Hu said at the event. "Here, we are lost and we are building cities.”

Still, there's some sense that a new Chinese architectural identity is emerging. Architect Wang Hui of Urbanus described it this way to World Architecture News earlier this year:

Young Chinese architects are quietly altering other sections of the built landscape; not with competitively tall towers, but with sensitivity, intellectual rigor and great subtlety.

Below, some Chinese buildings that strive for a contemporary look that  authentic national identity through its buildings:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    Cities Deserve Better Than These Thomas Heatherwick Gimmicks

    The “Vessel” at New York’s Hudson Yards—like so many of his designs—look as if the dystopian world of 1984 has been given a precious makeover.

  2. Homes in Amsterdam are pictured.
    Equity

    Amsterdam's Plan: If You Buy a Newly Built House, You Can't Rent It Out

    In an effort to make housing more affordable, the Dutch capital is crafting a law that says anyone who buys a newly built home must live in it themselves.

  3. Transportation

    China's 50-Lane Traffic Jam Is Every Commuter's Worst Nightmare

    What happens when a checkpoint merges 50 lanes down to 20.

  4. A photo of U.S. senators and 2020 Democratic Party hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris
    Equity

    Cory Booker and Kamala Harris Want a Monthly IRS Tax Credit for Rent

    The 2020 Democratic Party hopefuls are both planning bills that would create a tax credit for housing rental assistance every month. How would that work?

  5. North Carolina's legislature building.
    Life

    Should Government Agencies Move Out of Capital Cities?

    North Carolina may relocate its Division of Motor Vehicles from Raleigh to boost lagging Rocky Mount. Can this be a national model for decentralizing power?