Imagining Modernity through Architecture in Contemporary China

By Jiawen Han and Harry Margalit.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores the role and significance of imagining modernity in the formation of contemporary architecture in China. Modern China adopted modernization through novel architectural forms, evolving distinct modern patterns from a re-imagined modern world. By examining Chinese architectural development over the last twenty years, the study reveals that the building boom and novel architectural forms are to some extent fostered by an imagined modernity. The authors argue the rendered architectural drawings used in rapid urban development in China do not merely visualize and legitimize architects’ aspirations; they contribute to the imagining of modernity, which offers homogenous dreams of the metropolis for different regions regardless of their specific social condition. These drawings are reproduced through print-based media, and more significantly, in visual and electronic media via the computer. It is argued that the specific imagined modernity manifested in architectural renderings sheds light on the distinctive process of contemporary Chinese modernity.

Keywords: Imagined Modernity, Contemporary Architecture, China, Architectural Rendering, Chinese Modernity

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.29-39. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.608MB).

Jiawen Han

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Jiawen Han is a PhD candidate in Architecture at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Her research is currently focusing on the tensions between contemporary architecture and ideology in China. She has studied architecture in China, Japan and Australia. She worked as an architect in China from 2007 to 2009. Her research interests range from architecture in China and Japan to women in architecture. She addresses her perspectives toward contemporary architecture in China in the papers and her recent book (with Lili Ge and Jiyun Lun), ‘Cases of Avant-Garde Architecture’.

Dr. Harry Margalit

Associate Professor, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Harry Margalit is Associate Professor in Architecture at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. He has a professional degree in architecture, and a PhD from the Power Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Sydney. He has published extensively on Australian Modernist and contemporary architecture, and the dissemination and reproduction of modernist architecture generally. This in turn has informed a range of publications on design theory, energy policy and urban development. He also has extensive industry experience, and continues to design and build.