Ooooh... Had no idea this would become the EL vs TLD thread.
I don't really think it matters what countries the architects themselves come from, although maybe calling those buildings "Chinese architecture" is misleading on my part. The Chinese government though funded those projects so of course the designs the architects come up with have to meet official approval. In these cases I feel like the designs really represent a modern Chinese aesthetic.
Unique showpieces like the Birds Nest or the CCTV "Wrong Trousers" building are rare. Day-to-day office and apartment buildings in the west are already getting too cookie-cutter, and I'm saddened to see China falling more and more into the same pattern.
EL, the Beijing hutongs are sort of a special case. A lot of people were made very rich by selling out to developers. I don't think the case in Beijing is nearly as cut and dry as poor put upon Beijingers being forced out of their traditional homes. Also, Beijing is probably an example of one modern city where many more traditional old homes have survived than any other. There are two districts, Xicheng and Dongcheng, which are almost entirely old courtyard structures and renovated "old-style" buildings. That's huge, since those two districts are right smack in the heart of the city. That's directly because Beijing has done exactly what we would hope cities would do, and has protected the historic quarter. I don't honestly think Beijing could do any more than it has.
I'll agree that not every former hutong dweller cried with sorrow on leaving. On the other hand, check the maps before all the Olympic construction began. Not all of those people were waving "Welcome Bulldozers!" banners. I am glad that some areas were preserved, but I think it would have been possible to save more.
Of course people do move outward towards the suburbs, and the villas (which here in Beijing still do not look or feel quite like America to me. We do have lots of villas and lots of people living in the suburbs, but the feel is very very different), but that can't be helped. Those wealthy who can afford to live in the suburbs also have their choice of living in the hutongs -- they can afford it. So if they're chosing a modern, convenient, Western style house over a hutong courtyard, that's on them. Developers are going to build what there's a demand for.
I suppose part of my argument would be with the Chinese buyers. "We've got thousands of years of amazing history that I'm SOOO proud of, but I want a house EXACTLY like what I saw on an episode of Desperate Housewives
Then again, I think the developers have to share some of the blame based on what they offer. I know one of the developers of one subdivision here. He spent a few years in Miami. I'm beginning to wonder if some of the other developers spent too much time in Florida and California.
I'll have to check out the Chinese burbs in Beijing sometime. I'll guess they skipped the palm trees.
What's also interesting is that there actually are newly build traditional style courtyard houses out in the suburbs, mostly in the opposite direction of the villas (villas are by and large in Shunyi, countryside courtyards are in Changping). The difference in price between the counrtyside courtyards and the villas is staggering. I saw recently couryard houses of 500-800sqm for rent for under 5000rmb a month. New villas of the same size are about 30,000rmb a month, or more. The newly rich are just not drawn towards those older styles (although plenty of artist and writers are), they want a house that proclaims modern privilege and wealth, not 19th century tradition.
At last! Someone out there finally noticed that they can build modern versions of traditional buldings.
About fashion -- I'm not above a little Chinese fashion here and there, but I won't dress myself from head to to in it because I'd feel like an idiot.
I've never been able to show much self-restraint in making myself feel like an idiot.
Usually, I just settle for a jacket or the occasional round collared shirt (from WalMart
I was wearing some embroidered cloth shoes (that I bought in Pingyao, a place famous for cloth shoes) with my jeans once and this elderly gentleman on the bus took a real interest in my shoes and was very happy that I was wearing them. He said, oh, Chinese girls never wear shoes like that anymore, somewhat wistfully.
Oh good. Somewhere there's an old Chinese guy who agrees with my sense of fashion.