China’s Hotels Give a Good Sense of its Self-Image

The grandiosity and in many cases inspired designs of the plethora of dramatic new hotels across China provide a window into its psyche. China is big. China is bold. China is where the future is happening. The greenfield of a long-depressed economy enriched with newfound wealth and a newfound sense of its own potential, even a sense of its return to former greatness—all these combine to enable a kind of imperial overreach in architecture. These buildings, many of them, are beautiful. They also bespeak a confidence in the future and a sense of destiny that is lacking in Western culture these days. These stunning buildings also implicitly celebrate technology, because they require so much to build.

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A conceptual rendering for the Dawang Mountain Resort, Changsha. (Architect: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU Wolf D. Prix & Partner ZT GmbH)

The grandiosity and in many cases inspired designs of the plethora of dramatic new hotels across China provide a window into its psyche. China is big. China is bold. China is where the future is happening. The greenfield of a long-depressed economy enriched with newfound wealth and a newfound sense of its own potential, even a sense of its return to former greatness—all these combine to enable a kind of imperial overreach in architecture. These buildings, many of them, are beautiful. They also bespeak a confidence in the future and a sense of destiny that is lacking in Western culture these days. These stunning buildings also implicitly celebrate technology, because they require so much to build.

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