This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)
China is experiencing rapid urbanisation. Existing cities are growing at an incredible pace, new cities are being created, and plans exist to create a nine city metropolis with a population of 42 million. Within these developments, China is seeing some ambitious architectural projects emerge, brilliantly bridging traditional Chinese culture with modern design features.
Originally conceived as part of Beijing 2050 – a future-thinking exhibition held during the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennal – Hutong Bubble 32 appeared on the streets of Beijing for real three years later, and was featured at the Good Design is Good Business China Awards in 2010. The bubble is attached to the side of a traditional Beijing courtyard house and contains a bathroom and stairs to the roof of the building. Aiming to restore the functionality of Hutong neighbourhoods, the bubble introduces modern features to historic buildings, improving the quality of life for those living inside and making low rise areas more desirable to live in.
Praised for representing the cultural evolution of China whilst accurately reflecting the traditions of the country’s past, the New City Construction Exhibition Center in the Qingpu District of Shanghai features elements synonymous with Chinese history. Numerous courtyards are present, both privately for those who work within the three storey government building and publicly for those visiting the site. The external facade is dark in colour, using timber and stone present in many of Shanghai’s older buildings. However, whilst the styling of the building has clear Chinese influences, it is an undoubtedly modern building. Behind much of the wooden facade are floor to ceiling glass walls, offering a transparency rarely seen in Chinese government architecture.
Originally a grain depot on the edge of the largely industrial city of Tangshen, Chinese architecture firm Urbanus converted six original buildings at the Tangshan Urban Planning Museum and Park, retaining the weathered external features but introducing new roofing and tall, large windows to increase visibility. Cultural considerations were also taken into account when attempting to create as broad an appeal as possible for the development. In addition to the park and museum, shopping spaces and cafés are present within the complex, and the site is also home to an antiques fair. Urbanus’ work has been hailed as a more sustainable and refined alternative to growth in Chinese cities.