3 Aug

Chinese Architecture – Past And Present

When we think of Chinese antique shops our mind tends to think of delicate and precious items. If you are in a traditional Chinese building then it likely has, or had a red tiled roof with curves tending upward at each of the four corners of the structure. Today in modern Chinese architecture there are many high towers, and some are mocked that such a classic old China roof has been placed on the peak of a tower. This is disparagingly mocked at Big Hat or Tall Hat. Yet modern Chinese feel pride in Chinese architects.

Yet there is also local pride in the acknowledgement of the greatness of the foreign name architects who have won contests for prestigious major projects. With exceptions like the amazing Bird Cage Stadium, much of Beijing was torn down and rebuild from designs by world famous, not Chinese architects. But many amazing new works of art in buildings exist now as never before. The reach of the human imagination seems to have no bounds and buildings continue to transform in their shape and purpose.

Of any city in China, because of the very successful Olympics, Beijing has had itself torn apart and reborn and in this sense it is as modern as any city on earth. Small enclaves of farmers markets and local product markets are being kept between modern towers as custom and honoring the way China was. In Shanghai there is an elevated street car out to the airport and freeways ring the city now. The freeways are being built around the four or five major cities in China, and while there is not a lot of traffic on some freeways.

However, many are packed with traffic all day long. There is progress on some fronts. Some of the new buildings do not result in the positive response; all firms are keenly trying to curry favor from local authorities. One building was built to look like an ancient Shang vessel from the period BC 3500. However it has been built to look like a modern toilet and is a source of shame to those who created it. It does not help that this is the new headquarters of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s headquarters, not a company noted for self humor and being the butt of jokes from rivals.

Locals can only shrug and go along with the massive changes. Millions are being removed from their traditional homes for large new factories or power plants. Not all benefit equally at the present, but China will be a super power and these plans will go ahead. Hundreds of millions of Chinese people are richer and live secure lives. Gone are the ways of the Chinese antiques shop thinking. Many are confident that the new dawn will bring more benefits. Some dare speak out for a cleaner environment and there are examples of progress in some clean up projects.