Donna Church, Reference Librarian
Chinese-architects.com is a region-specific website featuring profiles of architectural design firms located in China and Hong Kong. The site is freely available on the open web, and is part of the larger world-architects.com network of sites produced by PSA Publishers in Zurich. Using a common format and site template, the various country and region-specific sites of world-architects.com present profiles of architectural firms and practitioners operating in numerous international locations. Chinese-architects.com represents a new installment in the family of world-architects.com sites, with a focus on firms practicing in China and Hong Kong.
Chinese-architects.com provides a wide range of openly accessible information on architectural firms, landscape architects, and architectural photographers operating in China and Hong Kong. Like its parent site of World-architects.com, Chinese-architects.com emerges from commercial aims, with stated intentions to serve as a source of information for clients and firms seeking to make connections for projects. The "About" page of Chinese-architects.com states that the site "brings designers, clients, and contractors together in the goal of advancing quality in architecture," yet the site functions far more broadly than this stated objective. The site's detailed information on a wide array of projects and firms, aggregated in an easily navigated interface, provides a great resource for students, researchers, and anyone with an interest in current architecture in China and Hong Kong.
The organization of the site is straightforward and easy to navigate. The home page features a trio of images highlighting recent projects and architectural news, generally including one project by a well-known firm and two projects by lesser-known firms. The project news items are global in coverage and shared across the World-architects family of sites; readers see the same news items across all of the sites, regardless of geographic region. A selection of firm profiles is featured on the homepage, though the graphical appearance of this segment impedes readability of the profiles. However, one can navigate to the full roster of firm profiles either from a search sidebar or a dropdown menu, where search faceting and subcategory menus allow for more refined exploration of the site. Searches can be faceted by project type (cultural, educational, or commercial, for example) and location, as well as by practice type – architecture, landscape architecture, or architectural photography. Firm profiles present a range of information with some variation by firm, since each firm may self-supply somewhat varying categories. Profiles typically include elements such as design philosophy and approach, publications, exhibitions, projects, and awards. Many of the project profiles include beautiful photography of a firm's completed architectural works, adding a strong element of visual information.
One possible drawback of the site is that the presentation of firm information does not always clarify whether a practice originated in country, or whether a profile represents a satellite office of a firm originating outside of China or Hong Kong. In many cases, the firm profiles specify the home office of an international firm with multiple locations, but this is not always the case. For potential clients seeking a design firm, such a distinction would not necessarily be consequential, but if one were using the site for academic research purposes and sought exclusively to find firms founded and based in the region, the lack of differentiation could create problems. Perhaps more specific requirements for the information supplied by firms could alleviate this inconsistency in firm profiles.
While emerging from an objective of commercial networking, Chinese-architects.com serves as a useful reference resource for anyone interested in contemporary architecture and landscape design in China and Hong Kong. The breadth and depth of information presented will be useful both to those seeking experienced professional designers and architectural photographers, and to those simply seeking knowledge of architectural design firms currently working in the region.