The architectural marvels of China

When it comes to architecture, China has a long history of innovative designs. In many ways, the Eastern nation has led the way architecturally speaking, during both ancient and modern times. It is a fascinating country that has encouraged the architects that work, and have worked, there to innovate, especially in the past few decades.

The country is still growing fast and modernising, which means that new architectural marvels are being built even as you read this article. However, today, we are going to focus on the structures that have already been completed. Below, we share with you some of the architectural marvels of China.

The Forbidden City – Imperial Palace, Beijing

No list of Chinese architectural marvels would be complete without talking about the Forbidden City palace complex. This remarkable place was the centre of Chinese politics and power. It was the home to the Emperors from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty between 1420 and 1912.

The palace is the largest surviving wooden building in China. The complex has 9,000 rooms and covers 178 acres. The entire mini city of palaces is laid out symmetrically. Everything was designed following the principles laid out in The Book of Changes and traditional Confucian culture. So, everything was designed to unify humans with nature.

The Liuhe Pagoda, Hangzhou, Zhejiang

The Liuhe Pagoda that we see today was constructed in 1165. It was built to replace one that was destroyed in 1121. It is seven stories high, although it was finished on the outside to make it look like it has 13 floors.

There is evidence that this impressive wood and brick building was used as a lighthouse. Over the years, the structure was reinforced when new exterior eaves were added in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Also located in Beijing is the National Centre for the Performing Arts. This modern wonder is affectionately called “the giant egg” by locals and visitors alike. It is built next to a large body of water which means that the half oval building really does look like an egg when you can see it reflected in the water.

The Lotus Building, Wujin

You can also see this effect if you visit The Lotus Building in Wujin. This stunning structure was built by a firm of Australian architects. Interestingly, this unique structure is home to the city’s planning bureau as well as several performance and exhibition spaces.

It is built in the middle of a lake and is designed to represent each of the life stages of the lotus plant. Two storeys have been built below the lake.

Beijing National Stadium (The Bird’s Nest)

This stadium was built for the 2008 summer sports. In no time at all, it became an iconic building that is instantly recognised, across the world.

It was a joint venture that involved several architects and artists. When they started thinking about the fact that they were building a vessel to hold the public, they realised they turned to Chinese ceramics for inspiration. A feature of ancient Chinese ceramics is the random cracking in the glaze; an effect that inspired the outer steel frame. The stadium is actually two independent structures that have been built 50 feet apart, the seating bowl surrounded by an outer steel frame.

The Ring of Life, Shenfu, Fushun

From a distance, this beautiful building looks like a large silver wheel. Around 3,000 tons of steel was used to build this 150-meter high building, which is also 150 meters in diameter. In a clever touch, the architect designed the building so it would be covered in 2.22 million sq meters of metal – one square meter of metal for each of the city’s residents.

Haohan Qiao Bridge, Shiniuzhai Geological Park, Hunan Province

This stunning glass-bottomed bridge is not the place for vertigo sufferers, and is aptly known as The Brave Men’s Bridge. However, if you can stand heights, the views are spectacular, including what you will see when you look down. This remarkable 590-foot-high and 984-foot-long structure has been built in a beautiful geopark. Each panel is 24mm thick and is 25 times stronger than regular glass.

The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, Hunan

There is an even bigger glass bridge, which spans the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, in Hunan Province. That bridge is 1,247ft long and 984 ft high. It opened in August 2016 and people flocked to walk across it. So many, in fact, that the bridge had to be closed 13 days after it opened. It was able to reopen after new logistics and safety measures had been put in place.

The Bailong Elevator, Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan

This remarkable national park is also home to another unusual architectural structure – the Bailong Elevator. The name translates as the ‘hundred dragons sky lift’. It stands at 1,070 ft and was built to carry visitors from the base of the cliff to the top in less than two minutes.

The Sheraton Hotel, Huzhou

This beautiful hotel is shaped like a horseshoe. You can best appreciate how unusual it is, at night, when it is lit up and its stunning shape is fully revealed. The 27-storey building is made from glass and steel and is the centrepiece of the luxury resort that is located beside Lake Tai.

The Guotai Arts Center, Chongqing

Chongqing is home to several remarkable buildings, but it is the relatively small Guotai Arts Centre that seems to catch the eye of most visitors. This bright red and black building is certainly striking, with some saying it resembles chopsticks and hotpots. The main body of the centre is a perfect example of Ti Cou, which is the merging of inner and outer space.

The Piano House, Huainan

This piano-shaped building was designed by the students of Hefei University of Technology in 2007. Lent up against the piano-shaped offices and exhibition areas is a glass violin, which houses the staircase. Unsurprisingly, this startling place is fast becoming a visitor attraction.

China is very much in a state of flux. It is still growing and developing at a phenomenal rate, so there is no doubt that we will see many more marvellous buildings being created there.

Posted by Mark
December 13, 2018
Features

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