In this journal prompt students were asked to reflect on the architecture of Xi’an. Below is Watson’s response:
Thus far in Xi’an I have noticed that the architectural styles differ from place to place. The more modernized and western style apartment buildings and high-rises contrast with the ancient, traditional architecture. In terms of Xi’an’s modern side I have noticed that nearly every street has a construction site on it where new apartment buildings are being built. This constantly reminds me that the air of industrialization that is ever present in this city. I can’t help but wonder at how I only need to look out of my bedroom window and see massive high-rises in every direction. This evokes a feeling of wonder at these amazing feats of human ingenuity, but at the same time it evokes a feeling of sorrow as I am aware that these buildings in many cases are shy of inhabitants or in some cases completely empty or even unfinished. These stand as a stark reminder of the fact that many people cannot afford to live in such places due to the exorbitant prices offered per square meter. As a result this modern architecture is taking Xi’an by storm and thrusting ever skywards, but with the ever widening gap between the haves and the have nots these hollow shells stare down on the streets of Xi’an as harbingers of the dawn of the new age of Chinese architecture.
The other side of Xi’an resides in its traditional architecture. Things like the city wall, the bell tower and the drum tower are all reminiscent of ancient Xi’an. They incorporate various aspects of the culture such as Feng Shui and various mythologies. The Xi’an culture museum is a perfect example, it is comprised of red pillars holding up a black tile roof with curved tips on the ends. The red and black correlate to the elements of fire and water in Feng Shui and the curved ends represent a one of the sons of the dragon that is able to spray water from its mouth. All of these aspects of Chinese culture are all incorporated into their traditional architecture. Every detail in these ornate buildings in present for an explicit reason and there is nothing there by mere circumstance. I find it amazing that so much thought went into each and every one of these buildings and how much effort it must have taken to construct each of them using sheer man power. But never the less these buildings stand today amongst the soaring skyscrapers and intertwining highways as constant reminders of the old Xi’an.