Soft sustainability - China’s new architecture

Nick Myall
Thursday 27 Sep 2018

BAU is the world’s leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems. Here Sophia Xue Bai considers what the future of building in China will look like...

During recent decades China has undergone a huge wave of urbanisation, however at the same time rural areas have often suffered from under investment and neglect. Speaking at BAU 2017, Sophia Xue Bai of Tsinghua University, Beijing explained why it is critical to breathe life back into China’s rural areas.

“When you are working on a construction project in Europe you work incrementally. You start with a small element which over time evolves into a larger element and gradually the urban environment is formed.” 

However, in China a different process applies. Most urban projects are huge in comparison to European projects with very tight deadlines meaning architects and engineers have to work extremely fast. The scale of Chinese projects is vast.

Sophia went on to say, “We need to develop effective new buildings in the countryside at the same time as we are focusing on urbanisation. Both  the older generations and the young generations need to be considered in this process.”  Only if this is the case can the huge wave of migration from rural areas to Chinese cities be effectively combatted.

“We are trying to bring people back to rural areas by designing attractive contemporary buildings that will bring life back to the countryside. Only with modern contemporary programs and projects can we hope to attract people back from urban environments to the countryside. We need buildings with identities so people can immediately see where they originate from . Then they will be able to speak out proudly about their hometown.” 

Nick Myall

News editor

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