From South China to the Global South : Tropical Architecture in China during the Cold War

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

2 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-1011
Journal / PublicationThe Journal of Architecture
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 2022


In the early 1960s, the Architectural Journal [建筑学报], one of China’s most highly respected architectural periodicals, shifted its focus from Soviet and Western architecture to tropical architecture in the Global South. Based on their similar encounters in history, China and other countries in the Global South have formed mutually supportive relationships. Taking the abovementioned shift in Chinese architectural research as a starting point, this article uses publications from the Architectural Journal and related books between the 1960s and 1980s as a clue to illustrate the trajectory of China’s early tropical technoscientific network during the Cold War. By analyzing relevant projects in China’s south regions and the Global South countries, the authors depict the production and exchange of tropical knowledge between domestic and international architectural development. The authors argue that, in the process of the country’s engagement with tropical countries via architecture during the Mao’s era, China has exported its indigenous low-tech, low-cost and rapid construction methods to the tropical regions, while absorbed knowledge related to tropical architecture to promote climate-responsive design and domestic architectural development.