Splendidly Fantastic: Architecture and Power Games in China

Splendidly Fantastic: Architecture and Power Games in China

by Julia Lovell, Strelka Press

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Mao once called the Chinese "a blank sheet of paper", and the modernising that came with the Cultural Revolution treated cities much the same. But Mao's destructive impulses were as nothing compared to the liberalised policies of his recent successors. China has undergone urbanisation on a scale never seen before - much of it speculative, some of it a brazen display of power. In this incisive analysis by the acclaimed Sinologist Julia Lovell, we get inside the politics of architecture and city-making in China. There is a colourful cast, from the Western starchitects rushing into the land of opportunity, to political dissidents such as Ai Weiwei, to rebellious residents singing defiantly as the bulldozers advance. In this trenchant critique of urban policy, Lovell wonders what good all this thrusting ambition will have been if the property bubble bursts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9785990336452
Publisher: Strelka Press
Publication date: 02/10/2012
Sold by: Bookwire
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 36
File size: 600 KB

About the Author

Julia Lovell teaches modern Chinese history and literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of The Politics of Cultural Capital: China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature, The Great Wall: China Against the World and The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China. Lovell's several translations of modern Chinese fiction include Han Shaogong's A Dictionary of Maqiao (winner of the 2011 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature); Zhu Wen's I Love Dollars; and Lu Xun's The Real Story of Ah-Q, and Other Tales of China.

Read an Excerpt

China's desire to establish itself as an architectural powerhouse has turned it into a land of utopian opportunity for starchitects, enabling them to realise the kind of fantasies that Europe and America have rejected. China loves starchitects for technical and psychological reasons. At least until now, state commissioners have genuinely worried that Chinese practices lack the expertise to achieve the kind of spectacular effects that they clearly crave.

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