The growth of China's massive population has slowed in recent years, but migration to urban areas has increased, with almost half of China's 1.3 billion people living in or near cities. A booming economy, government housing initiatives, infrastructure programs, and private real estate speculation have all driven construction to record levels. New apartment, office, and government buildings regularly rise up over older neighborhoods, and thousands have relocated to modern housing complexes. The blend of old and new Chinese architecture is ever-present in cities and villages, as older buildings are torn down and newer ones built at ever faster rates. The images below show glimpses of Chinese architecture, both traditional and modern, as it appears today.
A reflection (left) mirrors a scene of offices and shopping centers in Hong Kong, on March 19, 2011.
(Antony Dickson/AFP/Getty Images)
Ethnic Dong minority villagers walk through a covered bridge on their way to a Kam Grand Choir gathering in Tongguan village of Liping county, Guizhou province, on October 17, 2011.
A visitor uses her mobile phone to take a picture of herself in front of the Liyuan Library at Jiaojiehe village of Huairou district, in Beijing, on September 8, 2012. A total of 45,000 firewood sticks were used to cover the glass wall of the building. The library opens its door to public for free every weekend, local media reported.
People visit the Liyuan Library at Jiaojiehe village, in Beijing, on September 8, 2012. The 175-square-meter library, designed by Professor Li Xiaodong from the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University, took seven months to build and costs more than one million yuan ($157,660). The library has no electricity and closes at 4:30 pm, when the light fades.
Clothes hang outside a bus which has been converted into a dwelling for Lu Changshan and his wife, near newly-constructed residential buildings in Hefei, Anhui province, on November 12, 2012. Lu, 39, and his 36-year-old wife Zhang Dingmei have been living in a bus for more than three years selling cement and sand as their livelihood. In order to constantly watch over their construction materials and save on rent, they chose to live in the bus. They have moved three times during the past three years to be next to newly-constructed residential buildings where they could have more customers, local media reported.
Chinese newlyweds pose for wedding photographs in Thames Town on November 19, 2010 in Songjiang, China. Chinese wedding couples gather daily to have their wedding portraits taken in the themed "Thames Town", 35 km from central Shanghai, China and situated on the Yangtze River. The architecture both imitates and is influenced by classic English market town styles.
(Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
An emblem decorates the pavement next to a fountain inside a building designed to look like a Roman Colosseum, at Florentia Village in the district of Wuqing, located on the outskirts of the city of Tianjin, on June 13, 2012. The shopping center, which covers an area of some 200,000 square meters, was constructed on a former corn field at an estimated cost of US$220 million and copies old Italian-style architecture with Florentine arcades, a grand canal, bridges, and a Colosseum-like building.
Interior view of an earth building located at Chuxi Village, Xiayang town, Yongding county, in east China's Fujian Province. There are about 30,000 earth buildings, dating mostly from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, in the Fujian Province, southern and eastern China.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics venue for the beach volleyball competition lies deserted and unmaintained in central Beijing, on April 2, 2012. While the gigantic structures built for the Beijing Olympics, such as the "Bird's Nest", and the "Water Cube", are now used for cultural and sports events, some other Beijing Olympic venues, such as the rowing and kayaking center, baseball arena and BMX track, have been left either deserted or been completely demolished.
A man climbs down a ladder after sweeping dust from atop the entrance to his small residence in a "hutong", (or small alley in Chinese) in central Beijing, on April 22, 2011. Doorways leading to "hutongs" and their "siheyuan" (or small courtyard houses in Chinese) once criss-crossed the city, but they are quickly disappearing with Beijing's fast evolution into a modern metropolis.
Xian Xiyong, son of Li Jie'e, cries next to a police line after his mother jumped off a building and died at a demolition site of Yangji village in Guangzhou, Guangdong province May 10, 2012. Jie'e, a resident of Yangji village, jumped off a building on Thursday after her house was demolished on March 21, local media reported.
Fishermen navigate their boats past older buildings, which are under demolition work in front of hotel buildings that are under construction on the man-made Fenghuang (Phoenix) island, at a fishing port in Sanya, Hainan province, on April 18, 2012. A central government plan to create a high end tourist industry on the tropical Hainan island has delivered a much-anticipated surge in economic growth, but it has also widened the wealth gap between rich and poor that Beijing was trying to close.
A building in the shape of a castle stands uncompleted in a field in what would have been an amusement park called 'Wonderland', on the outskirts of Beijing, on December 5, 2011. Construction work at the park, which was promoted by developers as 'the largest amusement park in Asia', stopped around 1998 after funds were withdrawn due to disagreements over property prices with the local government and farmers. For more on this site, see China's Abandoned Wonderland.
The old district of Kashgar, in Xinjiang province, seen before newer construction in the background, on August 4, 2011. The renovations of the old Kashgar center are a prime example of China's modernizing campaigns in minority ethnic regions. However many city residents have mixed feelings about the disappearance of the narrow streets and adobe homes once hailed as the best surviving example of Central Asian architecture.
Li Rong, a 37-year-old woman, sits on a bed as she poses for photos in her 35-square-foot (3.2 square meter) subdivided flat inside an industrial building in Hong Kong, on November 1, 2012. In a cramped space on the fifth floor of an old industrial building in Hong Kong, Li lives in some of the priciest real estate per square foot in the world - a 35 sq ft room with a bunk bed and small TV.