Foreign Architecture in China

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Few capital cities in the world, barring those destroyed by war or other calamity, have undergone such a rapid change in such a short space of time as Beijing, China (Economist ed 2004 pp 63). From the rubble of old alleyways and decrepit apartment blocks are sprouting gleaming office towers and shopping malls, colossal stadiums and lavish government buildings, the Western influence can be seen (Economist ed 2004 pp 63).


The lack of traditional Chinese form in any specific region and the ability of architects to reform China's urban landscape using experimental designs are attractive to architects (Moller 2004 p 1). China's architectural designs since the 1950's have been built heavily from Western influences, and most of the urbanised architecture from 1950 to 1970 was inherently designed and constructed by Russian builders (Moller 2004 p 1). China's spending on construction ranks only behind the United States and Japan's and is growing the fastest of the top ten spenders, at 8-9 percent annually. Remarkably, given China's cultural pride, most of the highest-profile projects now underway in Beijing were designed by foreign celebrities (Economist ed 2004 p 63).
The influx of foreign architects in Beijing has incited controversy amongst Chinese nationals. Zhou Ganzhi, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, says, "No other country has opened its architectural design market to the world as wide as China. The rise of pan-internationalism threatens the distinctiveness of Chinese cities, making architectural evaluation difficult" (Hong 2005 p 15).
The general consensus amongst critics of ...
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