• +441438941158
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Chinese Architecture, vanke center building, a sustainable building in china

Chinese Architecture Today: 6 Architectural Projects Worth Knowing About

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

Surely, you have heard over and over about Chinese architecture histories. But here I don’t want to get to that. As you know, over the past 35 years, Chinese have succeeded in solving the problems of poor living standards during the quick procedure of urbanization. Looking toward the future, they're trying to improve the quality of buildings and urban spaces because of the Population growth. But how is it possible? And how do Chinese deal with these problems? This is why I wrote this article for you. I can see how it might be confusing at first glance but bear with me to clarify the matter.

Overpopulation has created problems for Chinese people. This country has one-fifth of the world's population, but only one-tenth of the agricultural lands! But they need farms and suburbs to feed people. On the other hand ownership of rural land in cities of China is illegal, so they have a big challenge to deal with this problem. The hopeful part is that architects can solve problems using architectural concepts!

Li Xiaodong Atelier (a renowned Chinese architect) argued solution is not to turn rural farming communities into cities with high rise buildings. Rather, the Chinese should try to modernize existing towns and villages without encroaching on agriculture. This is one of the best solutions.

Urbanization has made China one of the biggest energy consumer in the world. Under these circumstances, Chinese architects must figure out how to reduce energy consumption and how to conflict between the rapid process of urbanization and environmental protection. So one other solution is to design eco-friendly and sustainable buildings.

Now that you figured out the solutions, you can take a peek at examples below which designed and constructed according to the mentioned solutions as architectural concepts.

a modern city in china with various high-rise buildings

1. School bridge (Pinghe, Fujian)

This middle School project with 240 square meters area is located at a remote village, Fujian Province in China, and designed by Li Xiaodong Atelier, following his solution (Modernizing existing towns and villages without encroaching on agriculture), It does not only provides a physical function - a school + a bridge, but also presents a spiritual center.

The main architectural concept of this middle school is to spirit an old community (a village), modernizing this village without encroaching on agriculture, and to sustain a traditional culture (the castles and lifestyle) through a contemporary language which does not compete with the traditional, but presents and communicates with the traditional with respect.

It is done by combining few elements – a bridge which connects two old castles cross the creek, a school which also symbolically connects past, current with future, a playground (for the kids) and the stage (for the villagers).

This middle School project with 240 square meters area in Fujian, china

2. The Water House (Lijiang)

The water house is designed by Li Xiaodong Atelier, located at the foot of snow mountain Yulong in Lijiang village on a wide open sloping site, which has a panoramic view towards Lijiang. The old town is famous for its historical network of waterways and bridges.

This project combined traditional forms and techniques to create a contemporary house that resonated with its surrounding landscape. In the architectural concept of this project, the emphasis is on local-texture and non-decorative detailing, and the idea was to make the house a background which nature could be appreciated to its extreme.

Lightweight, slatted walls delicately veil the light, and bamboo plants form a luxuriant green heart in the building’s central courtyard.

Stone walls, wooden screens, pool, and the clay roof tiles as the other features of this house, blend into nature and the house makes the most of the area's climate.

The water house is located at the foot of snow mountain Yulong, Lijiang village, china

3. Flower Building (Hongqiao Airport, Shanghai)

MVRDV is an architecture studio based in Rotterdam, founded by Winy Maas, a Dutch architect. The project, Flower Building, in Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, with 15000 square meters area, designed by MVRDV studio aims to receive a sustainable building label, the best energy performance rating in China in 2013.

This commercial building reduces energy consumption, and there are insulated GRC panels in the white facade of this building. Optimized building forms, natural ventilation, permeable road surfaces, High-performance insulation, links to public transport, shaded spaces, a reduction in heat, rainwater collection, and green roof are all included in the sustainable building’s features.

flower building with 15000 square in Shanghai, Hongqiao Airport

4. vanke center (Shanghai)

"vanke center" is known as "Horizontal Skyscraper", Located in Shanghai, designed by Steven Holl Architects in 2009. A landscaped garden supports this building. The complex includes spaces, such as: conference hall, offices, restaurant, hotel, Public Park, and apartments.

vanke center is sited on stabilized land that forms part of the urban storm water management system. The landscape works to maintain the ecosystems minimize run-off, environmental damage, erosion, and associated with conventional modes of development.

The landscaped roof areas of this project, absorb large quantities of rainfall in the same way that well-graded gravel would. The ground layers used in the construction phase filter the retained rainwater. So No municipal water will be wasted for maintenance or irrigation.

vanke center, a sustainable building in Shanghai, china

5. Liyuan Library (Jiaojiehe, Beijing)

Li Xiaodong Atelier designs the Liyuan Library, a 175 m2 single-story building with 175.0 square meters area, and it is located in Jiaojiehe Villages Wisdom Valley, Beijing, China. The village has over 400 residents in 60 to 70 households. Li started his connection with the village at a cozy courtyard gathering there with classmates in 2010. It was touched by the fact that the residents of the area, especially the kids were short of educational resources.

the book shelves of liyuan library in Jiaojiehe, Beijing, china

6. Pearl river tower (Guangzhou, china)

Pearl River, a 71-story tower with 309.6 meters height and green architecture style is a clean technology neo-futuristic skyscraper at the junction of Jinsui Road/Zhujiang Avenue West, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, China. Low energy lighting, a double-skin curtain wall, solar panels, a chilled ceiling system, and wind turbines are the worthy facilities that make this tower self-sustainable. Adrian Smith, Robert Forest, Gordon Gill, Brad Wilkinsa are the architects of this sustainable project.

Pearl River, a sustainable 71-story high rise tower in Guangzhou, china


As the world goes ahead, the population is getting bigger and more demanding, and the situation is changing, and it makes problems. Architecture knowledge is trying to solving these problems. Architectural designs can change lives, and it’s the power of design. Architectural concepts are special tools to make a solution to deal with problems and it can make the world a better place to live.

As you read above, China has one-fifth of the world's population, but only one-tenth of the agricultural lands and they need farms and suburbs to feed people. I brought you essential solutions to deal with this problem and six examples of contemporary projects that are located in China which designed and constructed according to the mentioned solutions as their architectural concepts.

Please leave a comment below, and let me know your idea.

Kate Silva
Author: Kate Silva
I studied civil engineering at university. I have worked as a civil engineer and urban designer in many consulting and engineering companies. After a few years, I surprisingly got interested in architecture and design. I write on architecture and design, too. I hope you will enjoy my articles and I would kindly regard if you share your ideas and comments about them.

Related Posts


Very informative article. Thanks!

1500 Characters left