Is China Architects’ New Dubai?

West Kowloon Cultural District Theater Village from Water ©

The latest buzz from China 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, + CCDIP’s Tianjin Elementary School, and, not to mention,  Plasma Studio’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 21 Aug 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=86123>

12 comments

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

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

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    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.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +2

      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.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Hong Kong is a part of China mainland since the retrocession but it’s so far from it!
    HK has nothing common with China even the main used language of the natives is different, Cantonese and not Mandarin.
    Coming from mainland China to HK can be a shock for those who are not used to.
    There’s 2 cities in China that are very particulars, Shanghai and Hong kong. Both had during many decades an international life and development. Shanghai was always inside China, HK was out until recently.
    It’s enough anyway to go there to realize!

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    intertestingly, all the great architects included in the article, only Vector Architects is local, as i heard. really interested to see how thoese local majarity of chinese architects are doing, and how they treat the booming industry

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    Hong Kong is definitely not a playground for architects. Hong Kong is different from China, although two places have money to hire big architects but Hong Kong is running out of land not like China with plenty of space to build villages, stadiums, huge mixed-use complex. Hong Kong is striving the need in creativity and innovation to make use of space, creating healthier life in the concrete jungle.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I am a Dutch architect in China, and visited Hong Kong recently. I live in Shanghai and can tell you that Hong Kong is a part of China but really nothing like China, if you tell them that they are the same they do not like that at all! The mainland of China is really booming, big projects constantly appear at our office. Western architectural companies constantly appear and disappear because they do not know how to deal with the Chinese way of working. It is completely different than the way we work in Europe for instant, only big companies as OMA who have offices in China and have a lot of Chinese people work for them know how to win the big competitions.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I am a Dutch architect in China, and visited Hong Kong recently. I live in Shanghai and can tell you that Hong Kong is a part of China but really nothing like China, if you tell them that they are the same they do not like that at all! The mainland of China is really booming, big projects constantly appear at our office. Western architectural companies constantly appear and disappear because they do not know how to deal with the Chinese way of working. It is completely different than the way we work in Europe for instant, only big companies as OMA who have offices in China and have a lot of Chinese people work for them know how to win the big competitions.

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