Developers in the port city of Dailan in northern China are looking toward the West — and toward the past — for inspiration.
Beaux-Arts style architecture is the latest trend among affluent home buyers in Dailan. The style derives from 19th- and early 20th-century Parisian design that emphasizes large facades with ornate details. Over the past few months, Dailan’s developers have enlisted American architecture firms with a knack for the neoclassical to begin construction on a wide variety of Beaux-Arts style residences, from luxury apartments to entire villas.
According to developers, Western classical architecture symbolizes sophisticated taste for some home buyers in China. Enlisting American architects ensures quality and authenticity, says James Sun, vice president of the Dalian Yifang Group of developers.
“There’s a lot of neoclassical in China, but it’s done by architects who just take an image and design from that. It would be like asking an American or European to design a Chinese temple,” Sun said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Paul Whalen, a New York architect at work on a major development project in Dailan, suggests that the current boom in Western architecture “may even be exaggerated because [the Chinese] were starved of it” from the Cultural Revolution to the end of the 20th century. Urbanization and local economic growth has also caused a boom in Dalian’s luxury market; luxury homes now comprise 30 percent of the residential market. Residential home prices increased by 8 percent in 2013 to $176 per square foot — more than double the average in 2009. Liaoning province, which is where Dalian is located, also hosts about 30,400 of China’s millionaires.
Despite Dalian’s “period romance with Western architecture,” tradition remains a priority for affluent home buyers. Western architects must provide two kitchens for each home: “a Western kitchen with sleek countertops and stovetops for light cooking and entertaining, and a ‘hot’ or Chinese kitchen, for deep-frying and butchering meat,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The ends of hallways must accommodate a focal point like a fountain or a piece of art, and many Chinese buyers also prefer living rooms and master bedrooms that face the south. A “feng shui sense of balance” is also an important consideration.
image credit: chris230