Contemporary Chinese Architects and Type: Courtyard based Case Studies in Shanghai Area

Ioanni Delsante, Cong Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concept of architectural type, even if stated since the 19th century, gained much attention in the theoretical debate since the 1960s, especially in Europe. The impact on architectural theory and design has been relevant as well, especially with reference to architects such as Aldo Rossi and Rafael Moneo, among many others. Given the debate unfolded over more than four decades, including various forms of criticism, the concept is nowadays used by very few architects in their practice. However, there is room for further investigation and for deeper understanding of current uses and interpretations of type in contemporary architectural theory and practice. The authors provide a framework of vernacular architecture and types in China and, by analyzing some courtyard-based case studies recently built in the area of Shanghai, identify architectural type as one of the potential design pathways for contemporary Chinese architects. By referring to type, for example, contemporary Chinese architects mediate modernity with tradition, and oppose cultural resistance to trivialization in urbanization processes. The paper builds on an extensive literature review on type in architecture, as well as on vernacular and contemporary Chinese architectures. Qualitative research methods have been used through case studies and interviews with designers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-404
Number of pages16
JournalAthens Journal of Architecture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018


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