written by:
May 22, 2015
A design guide to China's bustling capital.
Jingshan Park overlooking Forbidden City, Beijing, China

A climb to the top of the hill at the center of Jingshan Park, situated just north of the Forbidden City, offers the best views of Beijing. Here, one can take in a skyline that displays the city's stark contrast between the traditional and contemporary.

Courtesy of 
Iain Shaw
1 / 10
Triple Major Creative Studio and Store, Beijing, China

Triple Major, a creative studio and multi-brand concept store, nicely reinvents the past. Their newest location in Beijing incorporates echoes of an old-time Chinese herbal pharmacy; shoppers will find accessories like Henrik Vibskov socks housed in a vintage medicine cabinet.

Photo by 
2 / 10
Temple Restaurant, Beijing, China

Temple Restaurant does European fine dining on the grounds of a 600-year-old temple that was used as a television factory during the Cultural Revolution. The beautiful lot is also home to a boutique hotel and gallery. 

Courtesy of 
Temple Restaurant Beijing
3 / 10
CCTV Tower, Beijing, China

The CCTV tower designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas was meant to be the headquarters for China Central Television when builders broke ground in 2004, but it was only over the past year that CCTV staff started moving into the building in significant numbers.

Courtesy of 
Chris Meehan
4 / 10
Ubi Gallery, Dashilar, Beijing, China

Dutch curator Machtelt Schelling opened Ubi Gallery in Dashilar to give China's talented contemporary jewelers and ceramic artists a much-needed platform for showcasing their unusual work. Pieces for sale include wearable and meaningful mementos for the home.

Courtesy of 
Ubi Gallery, Beijing
5 / 10
Najia Xiaoguan Restaurant, Beijing, China

They don't serve Beijing duck, but Najia Xiaoguan nevertheless offers a uniquely Beijing dining experience in a courtyard-style setting. Its menu features Manchurian dishes whose recipes are said to be passed down from the imperial kitchens of the Qing Dynasty. 

Courtesy of 
Iain Shaw
6 / 10
Lost and Found Furniture Store, Beijing, China

The best furniture stores are the ones you want to live in. This is true of Paul Gelinas and Li Ruofan's Lost and Found, which features cozy pieces inspired by Beijing's past.

Courtesy of 
Lost and Found Furniture Store Beijing
7 / 10
Caochangdi Arts District

The sprawling industrial zone-turned-art district Caochangdi is home to contemporary galleries, studios, and artists, including the iconic Ai Weiwei. After an afternoon at the exceedingly commercial 798 Art Zone, the Caochangdi experience is comparatively laid-back. 

Photo by 
8 / 10
National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China

Built in the late 1950s, the National Art Museum of China is a typical example of Soviet-style architecture with a Chinese-style roof. French architect Jean Nouvel has designed a second location scheduled to be built near the Olympic Park.

Courtesy of 
Iain Shaw
9 / 10
National Centre for the Performing Arts Opera House, Beijing, China

This titanium and glass dome-shaped National Centre for the Performing Arts Opera House was a point of contention when it debuted in late 2007 because many people felt its egg-like structure, designed by French architect Paul Andreu, disrupted the feng shui of the capital. Check their schedule to catch touring orchestras, ballet troupes, and of course, Peking opera. 

Courtesy of 
Chris Meehan
10 / 10
Jingshan Park overlooking Forbidden City, Beijing, China

A climb to the top of the hill at the center of Jingshan Park, situated just north of the Forbidden City, offers the best views of Beijing. Here, one can take in a skyline that displays the city's stark contrast between the traditional and contemporary.

A recurring theme in Beijing's history is the grand architectural gesture. From the Forbidden City and imperial palaces to the imposing Soviet monstrosities of the 1950s, Beijing has always been about architecture that screams, “Here we are.” The prestigous projects commissioned in the buildup to the 2008 Olympics—the CCTV Tower, the Bird's Nest, and others—seemed to suggest that this trend would continue unabated. Impressive as they are, those landmarks have left a mixed legacy, and if his recent pronouncements are anything to go by, President Xi Jinping appears determined to put an end to the era of “weird” architecture.

Against this backdrop, and amid the ongoing and hotly disputed destruction and sometimes garish redevelopment of traditional hutong areas, there are also some exciting examples of tasteful urban development. The historic Dashilar neighborhood in Beijing's Xicheng District is undergoing a lengthy renovation project that aims to create an area driven by sustainable business models that upholds the spirit of Dashilar's traditional architecture. A neighborhood is emerging that is less commercially focused and more centered on creating a culture of eco-consciousness, innovative design and community. On the other side of the city, Parkview Green's sloping roof is part of a energy-conserving design, making it one of Beijing's most well-used green shopping and office spaces.

All over, restaurateurs, fashion designers, and other entrepreneurs are choosing to sell their products in modern spaces that subtly exude the charm of Beijing's layered history and culture. Whether that is through a few rescued glazed tiles from an old roof, a restored courtyard, or a re-imagining of an old factory, Beijing is learning that the small architectural gestures can, too, make a city great.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016