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. a photo of the First Pasadena State Bank building, designed by Texas modernist architects MacKie and Kamrath. It will be demolished on July 21.
    Design

    The Lonely Death of a South Texas Skyscraper

    The First Pasadena State Bank, a 12-story modernist tower inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, has dominated this small town near Houston since 1962.

  2. The legs of a crash-test dummy.
    Transportation

    A Clue to the Reason for Women’s Pervasive Car-Safety Problem

    Crash-test dummies are typically models of an average man. Women are 73 percent more likely to be injured in a car accident. These things are probably connected.

  3. A NASA rendering of a moon base with lunar rover from 1986.
    Life

    We Were Promised Moon Cities

    It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11 put humans on the surface of the moon. Why didn’t we stay and build a more permanent lunar base? Lots of reasons.

  4. a photo of graffiti in Bristol, UK
    Life

    What Happens to ‘Smart Cities’ When the Internet Dies?

    In the fictional dystopia of Tim Maughan’s novel Infinite Detail, our dependence on urban technology has been suddenly severed.

  5. The Cincinnati skyline and river
    Life

    Maps Reveal Where the Creative Class Is Growing

    “The rise of the rest” may soon become a reality as once-lagging cities see growth of creative class employment.

×