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Reorienting the profession: Chinese architectural transformation between 1949 and 1959

Xiao Hu, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation examines changes in China’s architectural profession between 1949 and 1959, the first decade of the communist regime. This dissertation explores the political impacts on the architectural profession and demonstrates that the Chinese Communist Party sought a full control over the architectural profession through its operational and ideological restructurings. This study describes the Party’s intentions and strategies to achieve the full control in a step-by-step way and also demonstrates the operational and ideological restructurings in three stages: (1) in the first three years, the Party achieved its initial operational control through the nationalization and the adoption of design institute system; (2) during the First Five-Year Plan period, the Party emulated the Soviet model in order to establish a centralized governing system in architectural practice and to reform the architectural education for the needs of industrialization; and (3) after achieving the operational control in the middle 1950s, the Party launched a series of campaigns to reconstruct the ideological structure of architecture. In addition, this dissertation also presented in detail the architectural guidelines in the 1950s as well as their corresponding political and economic meanings. By revealing the political and economic contexts, this dissertation described the transformation of the architectural profession from a Western-modeled and self-regulated pattern to a socialist and centrally controlled pattern. Through this transformation, the profession became a state intuition, serving the socialist development of the nation. This transformation of the architectural profession helped the Party accumulate all available resources to achieve its economic objectives in a short period of time. Through the revealing of the political and social contexts that shaped the architectural profession during the 1950s, this study shows a unique pattern of professional development in a communist regime, different from those in the Western countries. Finally, this study creates an understanding of the characteristics of current Chinese architecture, and encourages a further study of recent changes in the architectural profession after China’s re-adoption of the capitalist system in economy since the 1980s.^

Subject Area

History, Asia, Australia and Oceania|Art History|Political Science, General|Architecture

Recommended Citation

Hu, Xiao, "Reorienting the profession: Chinese architectural transformation between 1949 and 1959" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3359467.