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Modernism in China: Architectural Visions and Revolutions




Modernism in China: Architectural Visions and Revolutions

Edward Denison, Guang Yu Ren

ISBN: 978-0-470-31928-4 June 2008 336 Pages


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.
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.




"...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" (, October 10th 2008)