The Ten Great Buildings
are ten public buildings built in Beijing
in 1959 to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the People's Republic of China
. They were part of an architecture and urbanism initiative of the Great Leap Forward
, and were completed in a time span of ten months, by their deadline of 1 October 1959. In addition to the construction of the ten new buildings was an expansion of Tiannamen square
, and a campaign of art commissions to decorate the majority of the buildings by the time of their completion. Two subsequent art campaigns for these buildings were conducted in 1961, and 1964-1965. The architecture of the buildings was a mixture of three main tendencies: modernism
as it had developed as the international style
, the Socialist realism of Stalinist architecture
, and a form of historicism based on traditional Chinese architecture
. The buildings were designed by members of the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, working with the Beijing Planning Bureau and the Ministry of Construction. The Ten Great Buildings transformed Beijing
by adding monumental architecture becoming of capital cities such as Washington, DC
; or Moscow
The ten buildings are:
- The Great Hall of the People - Located on the western edge of Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People houses China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress, and is also used for other ceremonial activities.
- The National Museum of China - Originally known as the China Revolutionary History Museum, this building is located on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square.
- The Nationalities Cultural Palace - Located on the north side of West Chang'an Avenue, the Nationalities Cultural Palace is a medium rise building incorporating traditional Chinese design elements. It has won a number of awards as an example of modern Chinese-style design.
- The Beijing railway station - Designed by architects Yang Tingbao and Chen Deng'ao, Beijing Railway Station was the largest modern passenger rail terminal in China at the time of construction. Since its construction, it has served as the terminal of a number of domestic and international services, including services to Moscow, Ulan Bator, and Pyongyang. It replaced the old Beijing Railway Station at Qianmen, near Tiananmen Square, which had been built in 1901.
- The Workers' Stadium - The multi-purpose stadium was last renovated in 2004 and now has a capacity of 70,161. It hosted the first National Games of the People's Republic of China.
- The National Agriculture Exhibition Hall - Premier Zhou Enlai oversaw the planning of this building. It was first used in 1959 to house the Tenth Anniversary National Agricultural Achievements Exhibition.
- The Diaoyutai State Guesthouse - The hotel and guesthouse complex is built on the site of an 800-year-old garden dating back to the Jinn Dynasty. The building incorporates design elements of traditional Chinese garden architecture. Formerly reserved for visiting dignitaries and Party officials (most famously Jiang Qing, Madame Mao), the guesthouse is now open to the public
- The Minzu Hotel - The Minzu Hotel is located on West Chang'an Avenue. It has hosted numerous foreign delegations, and is often used for press conferences.
- The Overseas Chinese Hotel - The original Overseas Chinese Hotel was demolished in the 1990s. A new building on the same site is now part of the Prime Hotel chain
- The Chinese People's Revolutionary Military Museum - Located on Fuxing Road in Beijing, this is the only large, comprehensive war museum in China. Displays focus on wars of the twentieth century, especially the Chinese Civil War, but also cover other ancient and modern warfare and weapons. The main building is seven storeys high at the centre, and is topped by a central steeple. Two four-storey side wings extend on either side.
The art program to coincide with the construction of the Ten Great Buildings was vast in its scope—including some 345 paintings, murals, and sculptures to decorate the new buildings. Many were done in the modes of traditional Chinese painting
, and others were in the socialist realist
style. The Great Hall of the People received much of the commission's attention but the campaign was not limited to this building. One aspect of the decoration in the Great Hall was the correlation of rooms for representatives from each province with regional art by artists from these respective provinces. The artistic centerpiece of this building was a large painting by Fu Baoshi
and Guan Shanyue for the main staircase. Entitled This Land So Rich in Beauty
, it is one of the largest paintings on paper in China, with dimensions of 5.5 by 9 meters. The painting was based on the poem Ode to Snow
by Mao Zedong
, and includes a transcription of Mao's calligraphy of the title.
The architecture of the Ten Great Buildings is a composite of factors based in modernism, communism, and historicism. Chinese architecture at the time was shaped by review of its own historical models mixed with external influences. Debate was vigorous in publications such as the Architectural Journal
prior to the constructions, and history, modernity and influence were being conceptualized and reconsidered. A criticism of this initiative is that while creating facilities for political, and cultural institutions, these public projects failed to provide for a needed increase in housing, however, a housing surge would occur in the country later in the century. Modern architecture
brought to China, as it had to the west, a new economic and rational manner of building, and the modernist buildings of the group were the least decorated by the public art campaign. Examples of this are the Workers' Stadium, the Minzu Hotel, and the Overseas Chinese Hotel. The modernist tenets of function and structure were realized in these buildings, yet these were attributed both to western capitalist influences and the Soviet notion of the proletariat. The Soviet architecture
inspired examples from the Ten Buildings are the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Chinese People's Revolutionary Military Museum. The Great Hall of the People and the National Museum of China across from it on the square continue the numerology of tens—each having ten freestanding columns in their facades. The architectural aspects of the traditionally inspired buildings included large and heavy roofs laden with ceramic tiles. These were often stacked in multiple layers recalling the towering form of the pagoda
. Another feature is upturned corners and curved ridges on hipped
edges. Beneath these thick composite toppings are layers of beams, and brackets known as dougong
. Examples of this type of architecture among the Ten Great Constructions are the Beijing railway station, the Nationalities Cultural Palace, and the National Agriculture Exhibition Hall.