April 4, 2011
1 Zhongkai Sheshan Villa
2 Zhongkai Sheshan Villas
Who says China’s new found prosperity comes at the sacrifice of the economy of the west? On the contrary, China’s boom in wealth is resulting in many small to medium sized architectural practices in the United States securing lucrative design projects commissioned by wealthy Chinese developers. These architectural projects, which range from luxury villa housing complexes mimicking the likes of Palm Springs, to quarter of a mile high skyscrapers, are productive, not only because they help to fill the financial uncertainty crafted by a limp American economy, but also because they give architects the opportunity to rouse a certain creativity usually left dormant in an architect’s mind.
Stuart Silk is one such architect who has reaped the benefits of China’s increasing prosperity. Stuart Silk owns a smallish architecture firm in Seattle, and was approached by a developer in Shanghai to design a community of villas bearing extremely hefty price tags. The developer had seen a picture of a house Mr Silk had designed in Palm Springs and liked it so much that he offered the Seattle-based architect the job. There was no meetings with the developer and no discussions of style or budget – unprecedented in the world of architecture and design.
Talking of his initial feelings when he was offered the project, Stuart Silk said:
“A lot of emotions went through my head. Disbelief was one of them. Then the anxiety that comes along with the responsibility to do something without direction. But ultimately it was very freeing and intellectually exciting.”
And this situation is being echoed across America, with small architectural firms working on China’s thriving development industry, where, although villas and housing complexes resembling the likes of those in Los Angeles and Palm Springs are a relatively new phenomenon, they are rapidly escalating in popularity and prestige. And American architectural practises are naturally lapping up the work, thrilled not only by the lucrative commission, but also for the chance to design ambitious, adventurous and exploratory projects, without a nervous developer looking over their shoulder and monitoring their every move.