kris provoost documents china's most flamboyant architectural icons
kris provoost documents china's most flamboyant architectural icons kris provoost documents china's most flamboyant architectural icons
may 16, 2017

kris provoost documents china's most flamboyant architectural icons

kris provoost is a beligan architect who has been living and working in shanghai for over six years. with a strong focus on asia and its megacities, he observes and compares its architectural phenomena through photographs and videos. in this series, provoost documents the boldest and most famous buildings erected in china by international ‘starchitects’ – such as the CCTV headquarters by rem koolhaas and ole scheeren and the galaxy SOHO by zaha hadid.

kris provoost beautified china designboom
the bund SOHO by gmp architekten is a newly developed quarter, housing offices and co-working spaces



starting seven years ago during the 2010 world expo in shanghai, provoost‘s photo series marks the end of a very flamboyant architectural high point in china. indeed, only very recently has there been a visible shift  from this ‘iconic’ style into a more ‘context-aware’ architecture – where both local and international firms play on an equal level. but before that, ‘starchitects’ invaded the chinese urbanscape and began developing striking designs with little context analysis and consideration. in other words, they took the liberty to engage in a sort of free play by manipulating restrictions.

kris provoost beautified china designboom
the bund financial center by foster + partners includes a theatre, seemingly overdecorated in bronze



titled ‘beautified china’, this photo essay takes the context away, so all that is left is an object in its pure form. ‘I called this series a status update of the current situation … the end of an era.[…] there was a time of exploration on a very large scale – ranging from single plots, to larger areas within the cities and  developing completely new city districts. with this exploring came a sense of awareness that was not present at the beginning, or had at least less importance at that time: there came a realization that cities cannot expand indefinitely,’ elaborates the architect.

kris provoost beautified china designboom
the galaxy SOHO project by zaha hadid architects is a true ‘blob’ within a rigid system



‘nowadays architects or visitors in general know better where that new steven holl or zaha hadid is in a city then where that ancient temple is located. can this be called success or just superficiality?’

kris provoost beautified china designboom
wangjing SOHO by ZHA, rising above its neighbours as a new center or welcome to the city

kris provoost beautified china designboom
the linked hybrid complex by steven holl architects allows for interesting vantage points

kris provoost beautified china designboom
OMA – CCTV headquarters is characterized by a striking shape is that changes at every angle

kris provoost beautified china designboom
the shanghai tower by gensler is a crown jewel of the city with its curvature highlighted by sunshine

the OCT pavilion by jurgen mayer, an angular sculpture with a popular outdoor mall experience

the horizontal skyscraper by steven holl architects is situated in the far outskirts of shenzhen

the national stadium by herzog and de meuron was in the spotlight during the two weeks of olympics




designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom

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