In recent years, with the accelerated urban development of public spaces in China, public washrooms have been assigned numerous new roles. Designers have come up with a variety of proposals which suggest turning public washrooms into a place where social gathering can be redefined, and temporary stay can be more engaging. Although the scale of public washrooms is significantly smaller than that of any other type of architecture, Chinese architects have been working innovatively on fitting the public washrooms into the changing social contexts. Below are a few examples that demonstrate some current architectural experiments with public washroom design in China.
Chinese Architecture: The Latest Architecture and News
How many U.S. architecture professors know that there is a Chinese treatise equivalent to Vitruvius’ Ten Books of Architecture? Very few, I suspect. I taught architectural history for more than 20 years before I discovered the marvelous Yingsao Fashi, a Song Dynasty book by a prominent court official who, as far as we know, was not an architect or builder. In fact, prior to the Ming Dynasty no prominent temple, palace, or shrine in China was designed by an architect because the concept of a single mastermind in charge of a building project was foreign to the East Asian way of designing environments of any kind.
According to the United Nation’s “The World’s Cities in 2018”, it is estimated that, “by 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 percent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants.” Also, between 2018 and 2030, it is estimated that the number of cities with 500,000 inhabitants or more is expected to grow by 23 percent in Asia. China, as the largest economy in Asia, with a GDP (PPP) of $25.27 trillion, is expanding rapidly, both economically and demographically.
With more and more migrant workers coming into the bigger cities in China, it has become increasingly difficult for workers to find an affordable place to live. Some people decide to move away from urban centers and bear with the lengthy commute time, while others are seeking creative design solutions to transform their home into a tiny, functional space to meet their daily needs.
Chinese courtyard houses are one of the most common housing typologies spanning all the way from the northern capital of Beijing to the poetic southern cities Hangzhou and back to the picturesque regions of Yunnan. Typically referred as heyuan, these courtyards homes are simply a “yard enclosed on four sides."
There's an old, weary tune that people sing to caution against being an architect: the long years of academic training, the studio work that takes away from sleep, and the small job market in which too many people are vying for the same positions. When you finally get going, the work is trying as well. Many spend months or even years working on the computer and doing models before seeing any of the designs become concrete. If you're talking about the grind, architects know this well enough from their training, and this time of ceaseless endeavor in the workplace only adds to that despair.
Which is why more and more architects are branching out. Better hours, more interesting opportunities, and a chance to do more than just build models. Furthermore, the skills you learn as an architect, such as being sensitive to space, and being able to grasp the cultural and societal demands of a place, can be put to use in rather interesting ways. Here, 3 editors at ArchDaily talk about being an architect, why they stopped designing buildings, and what they do in their work now.