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Books helping you know Beijing architecture better

Updated: 2021-03-22 20:15


1. The Liang Sicheng Architecture Prize

The Architectural Society of China

Tsinghua University Press, 2016 

Mr. Liang Sicheng (1901-1972) is a representative of modern Chinese architecture, a well-known architectural historian and architectural educator. Based on his contribution to and important status in the academic development of modern Chinese architecture, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China and the Architectural Society of China established the Liang Sicheng Architecture Prize Special Award Fund in 2000 to commend and reward outstanding architects who have made significant achievements and contributions in architectural design. Since its establishment, the prize has been awarded to 19 outstanding architects who not only made prominent contributions to the development of the Chinese architecture industry, but also inherited Liang's thoughts on architecture.

The book, a commemorative work of the Liang Sicheng architecture prize, introduces the origin, selection method and previous winners of the prize. It contains more than 400 rare photos, design drawings and hand-painted pictures, and includes the works and architectural thoughts of 19 great architects in New China in both pictures and texts. It presents the evolution of modern Chinese architectural styles. With a bilingual version in both Chinese and English, the book serves to promote architectural culture exchanges between China and foreign countries, and enhances the influence of international architects and the development of world architecture. 


2. Land-based Rationalism Ⅱ

Cui Kai

Intellectual Property Publishing House Co., Ltd., 2016 

Land-based RationalismⅡ is an academic work based on the theoretical and practical research of Academician Cui Kai, and follows his Land-based Rationalism published in 2009, showing his further reflection on the theory of land-based rationalism in recent years. By extracting the content of speeches, discussions, dialogues and articles of Cui Kai, the book adds his supplementary thoughts on and improvement of the theory. It also introduces case studies of 25 projects that Cui Kai took charge of and that show the organic integration of design and nature, history, regional culture, and urban life with the guidance of the theory. The projects are not exaggerated; the book's readers are drawn to their humanizing purpose as shown in the design and functions of their buildings, locally rooted in space and spirit.

The theory of land-based rationalism believes that architectural design requires a local cultural consciousness, and opposes the lack of cultural characteristics and the decline of national spirit in the process of globalization. It calls for rational thinking and opposes formalism, advocating that architectural creation should assume long-term responsibility for the human habitat environment and opposing profit-only commercialism. It promotes innovation based on local culture and objects to conservative retrogression; meanwhile it actively absorbs nourishment from traditional culture to face the future. Cui Kai pointed out that architectural creation should strive to maintain and continue the architectural characteristics of different geographical environments, and refuse imitation and mediocre design.


3. A Century of Change: Beijing's Urban Structure in the 20th Century

Wang Yi

PACE Publishing, Hong Kong, 2013

This book provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of Beijing's urban structure in the 20th century, analyzing essential social and economic changes in the housing sector. Focusing on the urban changes that took place under the market economy after 1978 and beyond, the book addresses the demolition of courtyard houses in Beijing's old city, the relocation of low-income families from the old city, the government's role regarding housing in the city, and residential segregation in Beijing. Expanding on the author's PhD thesis at the University of Cambridge, it is illustrated with a wealth of historic photos and maps of Beijing. Presenting relevant descriptions, extensive literature and case studies, the book offers a valuable resource for students and scholars of architecture, urban studies and Chinese studies. First published in 2013 by Pace in Hong Kong, it has since been added to the libraries of many distinguished universities, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, U Penn, NYU, UC Berkeley, Hong Kong University, UBC in Canada and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.


4. Beijing Danwei: Industrial Heritage in the Contemporary City

Michele Bonino, Filippo de Pieri

JOVIS Verlag, 2015

Danwei-these are city districts in China that are characterized by close links between work, residence, and social facilities. They are the material product of socialist city planning and therefore provide an urban experience that forms a stepping stone between the hutongs of the imperial capital and the superblocks of the present-day metropolis. Contrary to the disused industrial sites in western cities that often disrupt the continuity and scale of the urban fabric, the danwei have a much closer relationship to the historical, as well as the contemporary city. In modern-day Beijing, the danwei represent a unique experimental field of urban planning. Beijing Danwei looks at the history and future of former danwei and presents exemplary strategies for dealing with industrial heritage. Case studies show the problems that go hand in hand with transformation and present perspectives and potential with regard to usage and the urban regeneration of Beijing.


5. A History of Design Institutes in China— From Mao to Market

Xue Qiuli, Ding Guanghui

Routledge, 2018

A History of Design Institutes in China examines the intricate relationship between design institutes, the state, and, in later periods, the market economy through a carefully situated discussion of significant theoretical and historical issues including socialist utopia, collective and individual design, structural transformation, and architectural exportation, amongst others. It shows how, over the past six decades, China's design institutes have served the state's strategy for socialist construction and urbanization to create socioeconomic and cultural value. Through first-hand research, authors Xue and Ding reveal how the tensions between pragmatism, creativity, collaboration, and resistance have played a crucial role in defining architectural production.

Appealing to academics, researchers, and graduate students, this book provides a much-needed contribution to the discourse on architectural history, building practices, and policymaking in contemporary China.


6. Dzongs in Snow Land

Zhuang Weimin, Zhang Wei

China Architecture & Building Press, 2015 

Dzongs in Snow Land records the entire process of undertaking the design task of the Yushu Prefecture Administrative Center, a key project of Yushu post-disaster reconstruction, by a design team of Tsinghua University entrusted by Qinghai Province and the Architectural Society of China.

With detailed files and hundreds of pictures, the book reflects the author's thinking and practice on regional features, national characteristics, and the style of the times. The administrative center of Yushu Prefecture has two characteristics. On the one hand, it reflects the image of Dzongs in Tibetan culture, which is a symbol of power; and on the other hand, it is a contemporary administrative building in the design of Tibetan courtyards which emphasizes public satisfaction. The two characteristics appear to be a contradiction, and how to deal with it is the main point of the design.

This book also explores the contemporary Chinese architectural design style in the context of reconstruction after the Yushu earthquake. The project boasts unique features such as the analysis of Tibetan culture and Tibetan architecture, the joint participation of users and folklore experts, preliminary architectural planning and research, a combination of architecture research and practice, and post-use evaluation and reflection. In addition, covering the areas of snow-covered plateau, Tibetan culture, and post-earthquake reconstruction, the book is about more than architecture; it also explores culture, religion, city design, landscape and other fields.


7. Implementation of Innovative Healthcare Design

Meng Jianmin

China Architecture & Building Press, 2011 

This book Implementation of Innovative Healthcare Design is a case summary of the design achievements of the medical building design team led by Meng Jianmin, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, over the past few years. The functions of medical buildings are very complex, and with the development of science and technology and the transformation of medical models, the functional structure and constituent elements of modern hospitals are also undergoing constant changes and development. For the medical areas of modern hospitals, in particular, it is difficult to organize functional flows. Therefore, the analysis of each case in the book highlights the medical area of each project, and displays the functional flow and plane combination through special paper and binding methods, making it an excellent guidance book. 


8. Frontiers of Architectural Research

Wang Jianguo

Higher Education Press Co., Ltd., Southeast University 

Frontiers of Architectural Research is an English academic journal sponsored by the Higher Education Press Co., Ltd. and Southeast University. Launched in January 2012 as a quarterly journal, it is published in both online and print formats.

Frontiers of Architectural Research is an international journal that publishes original research papers, review articles, and case studies to promote rapid communication and exchange among scholars, architects, and engineers. This journal introduces and reviews the development history as well as the significant and pioneering achievements of architecture in China, and shows the status and role of the construction industry in the country's national economy and social development. It focuses on the guidelines and policies of the industry as well as the development of scientific research, survey and design, construction, and machinery manufacturing. It is an important journal not only for historical materials and academic value but also as a significant guide for practical work.


9. Hand Drawing of Liang Sicheng's "A Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture" 

Liang Sicheng

Duku Book, 2015 

This book, Hand Drawing of Liang Sicheng's A Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture, is derived from the illustration of the work A Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture of Liang Sicheng. In 1931, Liang Sicheng and his colleagues from the China Society of Architecture began a systematic investigation and study of ancient Chinese architecture, and clarified the development process of ancient Chinese architecture. Near the end of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in 1944, Liang Sicheng completed the manuscript of Chinese Architecture, the first book in his life, in Lizhuang, Nanxi, Sichuan Province. Two years later, he completed the manuscript of the English version A Pictorial History of Chinese Architecture.

Liang Sicheng's surveying and drawings of the Chinese ancient buildings inherit the drawing techniques of Western architecture and the spirit of Western classicism, and also creatively incorporate the techniques of traditional Chinese fine brushwork and line drawing in traditional ink and brush style to better present the unique beauty of ancient Chinese architecture, which is also special in terms of the illustration style of the world's classic architectural works. In addition, the drawings allow readers to clearly outline the history of ancient Chinese architecture, even without reading any explanatory text. In addition, the book presents large images of a number of classic buildings or a single important building in an extraordinary arrangement as a whole, showing a lot of information with captions in both Chinese and English. Pleasing to the eye, the illustrations tell the secrets of the ancient buildings of China.


10. The Games That We All Played: An Architect's Guide for Typical Street Games

Zhang Li

Tsinghua University Press, 2017

Traditional street games are passed down naturally, having witnessed hundreds of years of social and urban changes, and accompanying people's growth generation after generation. However, in the era of globalization, they are facing a huge crisis of being marginalized by international standard sports games and breathtaking video games. The consequences of losing the traditional street games are unimaginable.

Street games contain a kind of cross-cultural, universal spatial wisdom. By playing them, children of different generations and in different regions are able to develop both physical skills and social skills even in the most confined venue conditions. The book has collected these street games, which are specific versions of games popular in particular areas of various countries and regions, hoping that the spatial intelligence of street games will be paid attention to, talked about and applied by more people.



11. A Glance Back at City of Beijing

Liu Wenbao, Zhou Leilei

China Architecture & Building Press, 2015 

This book makes a panoramic comparison study of the street scenes of Beijing's old downtown area from around the 1950s to the beginning of the 21st century. The author selected nearly a hundred street scenes of the old town of Beijing, and showed the great changes that have taken place in Beijing over the past 65 years by comparing the photos at the same location. The old photos in this book are provided by the Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design, and have rare historical value. Based on these old photos, the author took photos in the same location to study the evolution of the city, a profoundly meaningful process. This book is suitable for researchers specialized in urban planning, urban history, and Beijing's history, and for people who are keen on the old Beijing.


12. A Little Bit of Beijing

Li Han, Hu Yan

Tongji University Press, 2013

A Little Bit of Beijing is the most detailed and exquisite city picture book on Beijing today. The book contains three themed volumes and an architecture book. As an architect, the author used computer software to draw three of the most interesting and fashionable places in Beijing: Sanlitun, the 798 Art Zone, and Nanluoguxiang.

The panoramic axonometric maps show the complex urban spaces of those areas. They are three-dimensional and complex like a maze. The comic strip part of the book tells 30 short stories with comments; the architectural sketch combines typical architectural drawings and uses the style of cubism to present populated small buildings; and the single picture book adds artistic features to the scenes and creates a fairy-tale atmosphere.


13. Phoenix Center: Design for Tomorrow

Shao Weiping

Tongji University Press, 2017 

This book Phoenix Center: Design for Tomorrow is a professional, in-depth, and systematic introductory monograph about the Phoenix Center, one of Beijing’s new landmarks designed by the BIAD_UFo (Un-Forbidden Office) of the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd.. The project completed construction in 2013, finished internal space decoration and equipment installation in 2014, and was put into use in the summer of 2015. With a large number of new technologies, it is a new building benchmark in China and has attracted a great deal of media attention and coverage at home and abroad. This book presents in detail the geometric logic construction from abstract forms, shape optimization to manufacturing standards, the innovative structural system, the surface of curtain walls that bridges the free-form surface, the electromechanical coordination based on the overall design concept, and the space effect. Featuring a clear introduction, detailed graphics, exquisite drawing expressions, and high-quality paper and printing technology, the book shows the design, construction and post-production effects of the nonlinear building of the Phoenix Center.


14. Chinese Architecture: A Selection 2013-2017

Architectural Journal Editorial Board, the Architectural Society of China

Tongji University Press, 2018

To present the overall style of contemporary Chinese architectural creation, an editing group was set up by Architectural Journal to work on the documentary archive of Chinese Architecture: A Selection 2013-2017. The book is the first authoritative work in China which reflects the development of China's architectural practice and includes Chinese, English and graphic materials. It facilitates the Architectural Society of China to conduct international exchanges and is a fundamental channel by which the world can learn about the academic development of Chinese architecture.

The book contains a total of 204 China's architectural designs which completed construction from 2013 to 2017 at home and abroad. Together they display the diverse values of contemporary China and reflect the rich and colorful pattern of contemporary Chinese architectural culture.

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