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Introducing this special issue, Austin Williams surveys the progress of an emerging superpower undergoing the largest urbanisation project in human history.

China is riddled with contradictions. It is a place of dynamism and restraint, of exciting urbanism but terrible urban design; of space stations and rickshaws; a future that is caught in its past. It is a centralised economy that has become a global powerhouse: a modern society where 120 million people still live on less than $1 a day.

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Tokyo Storeys

Kengo Kuma’s tower of stacked and canted layers offers visitors new views over a revitalised district of historic Tokyo.

Rising eight storeys above the heart of Tokyo’s downtown Shitamachi area, the Asakusa Tourist Information Tower marks architect Kengo Kuma’s continued efforts to revitalise and reinvent traditional Japanese culture and urban space.


Concrete Arabesque

Drawing on the richness of Islamic forms and geometries, Nieto Sobejano’s new art centre in Córdoba reinterprets ancient motifs through contemporary materials and spatial relationships.

Working in Córdoba, Spain, the Madrid-based architects Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano adapt principles from Islamic geometric patterns in both the organisation of their Contemporary Art Centre Córdoba, and in the design of its facades.

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