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Modernism in China: Architectural Visions and Revolutions

ISBN: 978-0-470-31928-4
336 pages
July 2008
Modernism in China: Architectural Visions and Revolutions (0470319283) cover image


With nearly five millennia of architectural heritage, China boasts the longest continuous architectural lineage in history. A hundred years after the dawn of the 20th century, the urban landscape of the world's most populous country has now been transformed completely. The pivotal link between the ancient traditions of China's imperial past and the high-rise, glass-clad, lust-for-wealth that characterises China's 21st-century architectural aspirations is a period of modernisation that revolutionised its architectural language and urban fabric.

Despite the fact that the reach of Modernism was as effective in early 20th-century China as elsewhere in the world, China remains conspicuously absent from written histories of Modernism - as Modernism does from written histories of China. Modernism in China confronts this by investigating China's unique experience of Modernism, its remarkable variety, striking contradictions and recurrent paradoxes. Modernism in China acquired its own unique language forged from geographical, cultural, historical and political circumstances. This extensive study analyses, for the first time, the role of Modernism in the development of China's architectural and urban landscapes throughout the 20th century and, consequently, offers valuable context to the country's recent resurgence.
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Table of Contents

Defining Modernism in China.

Antiquity and Modernity.

The Call to Modernise.

A Meeting of the Twain.

Nationalism and Modernity.

The Modernist Heyday.

Modernism and Militarism in Manchuria.

Dissipation, Politics and War.

A Question of Modernity.




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Author Information

Edward Denison and Guang Yu Ren are specialists in the field of the built environment, with a particular focus on cultural heritage and development. Their work is regularly featured in publications and broadcast media and at international symposia. Their co-authored publications include: Asmara – Africa’s Secret Modernist City (Merrell 2003 & 2007) and Building Shanghai – the Story of China’s Gateway (Wiley Academy, 2006 & 2007). These works form the basis of two travelling exhibitions that continue to disseminate these unique subjects to audiences as far apart as Europe, the Middle East, Africa and America.
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"...this is a worthwhile effort to document projects that might otherwise be lost...this book helps to converse these exemplary works". (Architecture Today, September)

"...explore the early days of Chinese modernism, generally rather overlooked by both the conventional histories and by the country itself" (Wallpaper.com, October 10th 2008)

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Professor Reviews

“…looks at the emergence of architecture as a profession in China, and the fusion of Chinese and western design”.Building Design Friday 27 June 2008
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