Modern Architecture and Urbanism in China

Modernizing influences, largely from the hands of foreign powers, first forcefully entered China in the aftermath of the Opium War and signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. Since then, China endured a stormy if not tumultuous course of events before finding itself with burgeoning modern industrialization and urbanization during the contemporary era, as well as a certain ambivalence about the shape of its future identity. Against this historical backdrop, modern architecture and urbanism developed spasmodically, before emerging strongly during the past decade or so. Rather than attempting to provide a continuous and cohesive narrative of these developments, this seminar will concentrate on significant episodes during the last 150 or so years. Of particular interest will be the work of several generations of Chinese architects, planners, and public officials, as well as that of foreign architects and planners, working in China during various periods. The aim of the course will be to introduce students to this modern work and underlying attitudes, together with cultural influences, which lay behind them. Students will be expected to be prepared for seminar discussion, by undertaking prescribed readings, and to produce an article-length research paper on a pertinent topic. There are no prerequisites for this course.