(Click to view video ^)
“Nowadays, everyone in this city and in this country is trying to find identity, and trying to find that new Chinese voice…is there one?”
This video introduces the opportunities and challenges that architects in China are facing as they navigate tensions between the traditional and the modern, the global and the national, in the rapidly shifting Chinese urban landscape. The video itself is a feast for the eyes and ears, and produced a strong emotional response in me, intermingled with awe, bleakness, fascination, nostalgia, dread, and hope. Having studied the topic of modernization in China (but never architecture) and lived in Beijing last summer, I was interested in the ways that the design of buildings could become a site where these social anxieties and aspirations can merge, be expressed, and perhaps, be reconfigured. Just as being a culturally relevant architect requires one to be sensitive to these trends and social forces, perhaps one also has the ability to reshape ongoing discourses and create a new voice.