Whether it's a language barrier, or the lack of information online, China can be a difficult travel destination to tackle. Even for those who can read Chinese, there are many parts of the Mainland that most of us haven't even heard of. Having said that, China is home to some of the most beautiful modern architecture in the world. From a giant protruding waterfall, to flying Shaolin monks in the mountains, here are seven of the most stunning architecture buildings you didn't know existed in China.
Located along the coastal plains of Zhuhai in the Guangdong province, the Zhuhai Opera House is a breathtaking piece of architecture that would be hard to miss for any passersby. With its unique shape and structure that exudes a somewhat extraterrestrial presence, the opera house occupies a grand total of 59,000 square metres and blends in perfectly with its stunning backdrop of the Zhuhai cityscape. Designed by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, the two structure's façade even lights up at night, illuminating the Zhuhai skyline with all sorts of shimmering colours.
The Liebian International Building in Guiyang quickly gained the attention of local media when video footage of the building was released online earlier this year. Featuring a 108 metres-tall waterfall installed on the outside of the building (yes, we said outside), this extravagant tower has been criticised by many as being over-the-top, and a waste of natural resources. Full details of the tower complex are yet to be announced. Wasteful or not, its jaw-dropping water feature is undeniably stunning to look at.
Famously known as the most beautiful mountain in China, Huangshan Mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. Whilst there, most visitors also make a trip down the southern foot of the mountain to Taiping Lake, the largest man-made lake in Anhui. It is here where world-renowned Beijing-based architecture firm, MAD Architects, developed the grand housing complex – Huangshan Mountain Village. Made up of 10 tower blocks that vary in both height and width, each cluster is designed to mimic its surrounding rocky landscape, without losing the concept of modern living.
Perched in the centre of Binhai’s bustling cultural hub, the Tianjin Binhai Library features a white, luminous spherical auditorium in the middle, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves cascading down and around the walls. Not only do these bookshelves double as stairs/steps and seatings, but the different extended lengths of the bookshelves combine to give great depth to the entire library. Light, calming, and oh-so-aesthetically-pleasing, it’s no wonder that this cave-like library has quickly become a hotspot for Instagrammers.
Saddled on top of the Yanshan Mountains bordering Beijing and Chengde, the Hilltop Gallery is a multi-functional venue that serves not just as an art exhibition gallery, but also a cultural and social space with interactive areas for a range of activities, a theatre room, as well as an outdoor cafe offering sweeping views of the surrounding terrain, and Jinshanling, a section of the Great Wall of China. Granted this isn’t exactly the most accessible travel destination, but we reckon the scenic views and its distinctive bamboo structure throughout will definitely make it a trip worthwhile.
Sprawling down the mountainside of the Qinglong Mountain Geopark, this museum is the closest you'll get to a real-life Jurassic Park. Built to protect and provide the perfect preservation conditions to a handful of delicate dinosaur egg fossils that were laid almost 80 million years ago, the museum was constructed using local materials such as traditional bamboo scaffolding, in an effort to cause the least disruption to the site as possible.
Last but certainly not least, this impressive architecture nestled within Songshan Mountain, is built for exactly what it is called – Shaolin flying monks. Designed by Latvian architecture studio, Mailitis Architects, this temple and theatre hosts regular shows, where trained Shaolin monks are propelled and maintained in the air through the building's wind tunnel structure. Requiring years of experience, skill, and professionalism from each performer, we say forget about Cirque du Soleil – this is the only circus act you'll need to see!