China's Architectural Personality Crisis

Liu Yugie offers and considered and compelling analysis of the state of architecture in China today, and asks if "is China a playground for international architects or an abused testing ground for bad design?"
October 17, 2011, 2pm PDT | George Haugh
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The article draws attention to the public perception of many foreign architects as creators of 'playground architecture,' enabled by China's savings and lax planning and construction laws. Throughout Beijing and Shanghai, large set piece buildings of varying quality by international architects have sprung up 'like mushrooms.'

"Constant global media coverage has portrayed China as an open stage for ambitious, innovative urban design, a reputation which initially pleased those who were commissioning the building, but later raised doubts and reflections of whether the country was being misused as a testing ground for maverick projects," writes Liu.

Zaha Hadid described China as the "perfect blank canvas," and has is an active participant in the largest urban construction movement in human history. But doubters, such as Peng Peiking of Tsinghua University are angered by how obviously foreign architects have co-opted China's eagerness to build dazzling modern cityscapes. Peng supports his criticism by pointing out that many of these designs would never be accepted by the architects' home countries because they would have failed city planning concerns, stricter sustainable development demands and tighter budgets.

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Published on Sunday, October 16, 2011 in China Daily
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