October 1st, 2019 is a great day for Chinese from home and abroad. 70 years have passed since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in which China has thrived in the face of ups and downs. And buildings are the solidification of history, witnessing many changes in these years. Since 1949, Chinese architecture enters into a new era. Looking back at history, we can divide its development into 5 periods: recovery of the national economy (1949-1952), First Five – Year Plan (1953-1957), “Great Leap Forward” and National Economic Readjustment, “Design Revolution” and “Cultural Revolution” and the new period of Socialist Modernization. Today, let’s come and read the story of modern Chinese architecture together.

1. Recovery of National Economy (1949-1952)

At this time, the activities in the field of architecture showed great vitality. Even there are no more than 200 architects registered in the country, but all of them had their own design concept. Most of their works emphasized function and are in line with national conditions.

Anshan Workers’ Residential Quarters

The urgent need in China for housing and industrial building brought many examples of purely utilitarian architecture and major construction projects, such as workers’ residential quarters in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou. In order to adapt to the needs of the authority, office buildings rose based on the principles of modern architecture. They are simple, not big and retained the traditional characteristics in architecture.

Beijing Children’s Hospital
Chongqing’s The Great Hall of the People

2. First Five-Year Plan (1953-1957)

The scale of construction during the period of the First Five-Year Plan is unprecedented in Chinese history. The planed economic system helped to accelerate the development of architecture. The team of industrial design and construction was basically formed, and their ability of technology and management has been greatly improved. In this period, architecture design entered into industrialization while civil architecture made great progress. People started to pay attention to the relationship between function and economy as well as began a new exploration towards the forms of architecture.

Meanwhile, Chinese architects tried their best to create the style that fitted in with Chinese culture. They learned from different ways which had unique ethnicities’ style and put them into practice. To sum up, there are 4 kinds of architecture.

(1) Architecture characterized by the big roof

Beijing Friendship Hotel

(2) Architecture characterized by ethnic culture

The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan

(3) Architecture characterized by local traditions

Lu Xun’s Memorial Hall

(4) Architecture characterized by the demand for new function

Beijing Observatory

3. “Great Leap Forward” and National Economic Readjustment (1958-1964)

During this period, the “Great Leap Forward” promoted lots of achievements and creations on architecture. Besides, to celebrate the People’s Republic of China’s 10th anniversary, the Chinese government carried out the project — National Celebration Project, which shows the highest level of designing and construction at that time. “Ten Grand Buildings” is the representative works, such as the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of Chinese Revolution.

Great Hall of the People
National Art Museum of China

4. “Design Revolution” and “Cultural Revolution”

Over the course of the Cultural Revolution, architectural activities had been in a state of chaos for a long time in the country.

5. The New Period of Socialist Modernization

From the 1980s, Chinese architecture gradually became open, compatible and multiple. With the implementation of Socialist Modernization, the building bloom afterward.

China’s economic development during this period created a need for an increased number of office towers, hotels, shopping spaces, and urban housing, accompanied by massive new roadway construction. The style in this era is integrated by the modern design and national spirit. The high-rise buildings merged increasingly.

Guangzhou White Swan Hotel
Shanghai Longbai Hotel

The traditional style and modern style encounter in Architecture

During the new era, many architects affected by foreign architectural design. They deeply learned the design concept and implement them according to our culture and tradition, which showcased innovation in architecture.

Sichuan Dinosaur Hall

There are ups and downs in Chinese architecture history, but from now on it has started a new journey to explore new design styles. It takes many efforts devoted by our pioneers in architecture to create wonderful buildings. Chinese architects will never stop their steps in architecture and make Chinese architecture flourish! If you want to know more stories about the history of architecture, please feel free to contact Aimir.

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