Architecture critic Guy Horton has an excellent essay on ArchDaily about redefining the way we judge and evaluate Chinese urban development.
China’s unique history and special set of circumstances at this time means that Western methods of analyzing urban issues are not sufficient for understanding the entire scope of Chinese development. Horton summarizes his point in the conclusion:
“How the discipline of architecture filters and distorts the non-west through “theory” and narratives of development plays into the West’s textual tradition of Orientalism. The architectural discourse on China, for example, is a glaring example of the continuation of old modes of coming to terms with the Other. In order for architecture to grasp China’s present it must shift its narratives away from tendencies which “traditionalize” China’s unique modernity.”
Horton’s piece may require multiple readings before his point is fully digested, yet the message is a timely reminder of the need for cultural relativism, even when applied to something as seemingly universal as modern forms of architecture.
In fact, the China Urban Development Blog strives to promote the same method evaluating Chinese urban development articulated by Horton. I appreciate his effort to see beyond tired and biased characterizations.
ArchDaily: Defining China