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6 - Modernization and the Architectural Profession in China

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The lecture briefly introduced the history and developments of Chinese Architecture and the Architectural Professional Practice in China from the Pre-modern Period to the Contemporary Period.

The first part of the lecture addressed the interactions between pre-modern China and the other global powers in both the aspect of society and the field of architecture.

1. The Chinoiserie in Europe after the 16th century was negatively recognized as putting China into a European box because of the weakness of China by that time.
2. The Opium Wars forced China to open up its markets as well as its nation, yet also pushed the “Self Strengthening Movement” in China.
3. The Sino-Japanese War in 1895 urged Chinese intellectuals to learn from Japan and to explore the reformation in the social and political aspects.
4. The Boxer Rebellion totally changed China from the field of education to almost every part of society.
5. These changes eventually promoted the “1911 Revolution” led by Dr. Sun-Yatsen, which outthrew the court of the Qing Dynasty.

From that period until the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Architecture had been influenced both by the West, such as the French Baux-arts and the US, and the East, like the Soviet Union.

1. As a western-trained architectural historian, Liang Sicheng, “the Father of Modern Discipline of Architectural History” in China, had been devoted into the interpretation of the book Ying Zao Fa Shi, and the foundation of architectural discipline in China.
2. Influenced by the French Baux-arts, the Soviet advisers actually brought to China the architectural thoughts that were quite similar to the thoughts from the western-trained Chinese architects.
3. In the period from the 1960s to 1970s, when the “Cultural Revolution” occurred in China, the Chinese government had the power to centralize all the resources to build their cities in large scales, while also destroying many historical architectures.

For the contemporary period of China, Chinese Architecture and its Professional Practice seemed to be adjusting in their methodology of modernization.

1. The excavation of archaeology promoted the large construction of museums, and in turn, pushed the development of tourism and architecture.
2. As an example of Chinese Modernization, the city of Nanjing gradually operated its modernization by incorporating the western modernism ideas while preserving the traditional architectural remains.
3. Due to the opening market promoted by the “Deng Xiaoping Reform” in the 1980s, the architectural professional practice became more and more generalized, which resulted in the increasing number of private Chinese firms to be engaged in the design process.

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