Is China Architects’ New Dubai?

West Kowloon Cultural District Theater Village from Water © OMA

The latest buzz from is all about the West Kowloon Cultural District, a large performing arts venue incorporating studios, theaters, performance venues, and cultural and public spaces.   We’ve brought you coverage on OMA’s proposal as well as Foster+Partners‘ and Rocco Design Architects‘ schemes, and as the master plan develops, we’ll be sure to bring you the latest updates.  As CNN reported, China has become “an increasingly attractive territory for leading architects.”  And, we couldn’t agree more.  Over the past few months, we’ve seen great projects from Holl emerging in China, such as his Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen, as well as Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House,  OMA’S CCTV Tower, Vector Architects + CCDIP’s Tianjin Elementary School, and, not to mention,  ’s Flowing Gardens.  Plus, in terms of experimentation, China’s recent Expo 2010 offered the perfect opportunity for architects across the world to demonstrate their newest concepts about space, materials and performance.  This explosion of architecture in the West has brought with it a sense of fresh experimentation of form and analysis of programmatic elements and organization.  Together, the buildings are forming a rich and diverse vocabulary of architecture sprinkled throughout China.   Koolhaas commented to CNN, “I think that any architect today has to be interested in China.”

What do you think of this growing “architectural playground”?

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Is China Architects’ New Dubai?" 02 Nov 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • architect_j

    has it been officially announced that OMA has the winning proposal?

    • Hale.H.

      without China mainland, what u think Hongkong will be? The market had been screwed in 1998. It needs to be part of China.

  • Tim

    Hong Kong is not CHINA!! officially, yes. But they are nothing alike.

    • Alek

      last time i check hong kong was part of china

  • Archie

    Saying HK is China is like saying here Quebec is Canadian, just doesnt go over well with people. On paper yes they both are, but in reality, they dont want to be together.

    As for architectual playground. China is NOT Dubai… Dubai is a playground of B grade architects who try to be A Grade. What results in Dubai is overstated, overdesigned drivel. At least with China and my experience working their architects are trying hard to place theory and design together. Yes its a playground of sorts, China has all the money to make these design a reality.

    But Japan was the playground of the ’70′s and US was the playground of the 60′s. Its all relative to each era.

  • MKE

    This is in Hong Kong, not China. Don’t mix up.

    • Lu

      Firstly, Hong Kong is part of China, please don’t mess up. You should check the history in 1997 and make sure what happened in that year.

      Secondly, for the playground thing, I think china just provide the opportunity for architects to realize “the ideal image” in their minds, which is similar to the period of 1960s ,the booming time for avant-grade. The only different thing is that architects nowadays are more programatic critical.

      If china wants to be international and acceptable, this is one inevitable step. It’s good for chinese to think and to realize what they really need. The crazy projects are catalyst for it, like Winy Mass said.