Business capitals and trade cities of the world often become a cradle for state-of-the-art architecture. This is because of the attention they draw through their contribution to the economy of the country. One such city is Dongguan in China. Located in the Pearl River Delta region, about 100 km from Hong Kong, Dongguan is a first-tier city most famous for producing one-fifth of the world’s smart phones and one-tenth of the world’s shoes. The “world’s factory” is home to more than 10,000 foreign-invested enterprises, making it one of the world’s largest global manufacturing bases and sharing responsibility for the “made in China” tag.


Architecturally, Dongguan offers a good variety of historical, contemporary and ultra-modern architecture. While on one hand, it houses the ancient villages instituted by the Ming and Qing Dynasty; on the other, it showcases some contemporary residential complexes with innovative institutional and commercial buildings.


Here is a list of 9 places architects must visit in Dongguan


1. Nanshe Village

Nanshe Village is considered a gem of Dongguan because it houses the ancient architecture that represents the old ways of Chinese living, which now seems to be lost in oblivion. It is an example of the ancient Pearl River Delta Water villages that existed once upon a time. Built 300-800 years ago during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the village exhibits structures with cascading rooftops and winding alleyways that divide the city symmetrically.

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2. Dongguan TP-Link Industrial Park

This industrial production park designed by CCDI is divided into two parts- – the production plant area and the dormitory area. Their approach towards design was to make optimum use of the surrounding natural environment while breaking away from the traditional “factory” building designs that could create a more relaxed and communal living space for the workers. The design bonds the traditional multiple buildings together, both vertically and horizontally, to create a unique landscape of the building with the lake in the vicinity.

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3. CIMC Headquarter Office Building

Located in the southern section of Songshan Lake National High-Tech Development Zone in Dongguan, the CIMC headquarters is yet again designed by CCDI Dongxiying Studio. It neighbors the Songshan Lake and the public green space with superior natural conditions. The terrain of the park has a significant height difference between its east and west wings as the headquarter occupies one of the corners of the park. With a depth of 14 meters, the “Office Island” is used as a unit, where the windows open inward to enable good ventilation and ambient natural lighting. A “vibrant core” formed by the vertical traffic with the office related function connects the entire “office island”. Having a finger-shaped organization of form which extensively opens to the west side, maximizes the benefits of the existing natural landscape of the lake and enables a seamless blending of the building with the same. 

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4. White House Homestay Cluster

Located in the typical rural area of Xinji Village, Mayong Town, Dongguan, the White House Homestay Cluster, designed by Atelier cnS, exhibits a scatter-style update method to alter an old, derelict and culturally profound house, that relates well with the local villagers and instills a sense of community. Public spaces like the yard of the four houses, the auxiliary space, the aisle space, the terrace spaces, and others were carved out in the design of the core group of the whole community, by breaking the walls between the 4 houses involved in the cluster. These spaces form a public space system that can adapt to new usage functions to solve the problem of lack of public activity space in the entire White House and Homestay community activity center.

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5. HUS V

HUS V by Credohus is a family home, inducing nostalgia for the countryside, is located in an evergreen valley in Dongguan. The house in light wood construction of modified wood is situated on a site that is surrounded by mountains on 3 sides. This type of construction is extremely durable in the wet and humid conditions in Southern China. The basic idea behind the design of the house is to define the relationship between Nature, Manmade nature and Artifact. The organization of volumes inside the house has been divided into individual living units surrounding a courtyard.

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6. Vanke Sales Office

This 600 square meter sales office is owned by a Chinese property developer, Vanke and was designed by FCHA in a mixed development zone in Dongguan. Conceptualized in an angular form that gently spirals upwards from the ground plane, it reestablishes the relative ground plane in the air that changes a user’s perception of ground and structure. This was done by imposing a loose triangular grid on the site to accomplish the requirements of a plaza landscape. The center of that landscape was then extruded into two levels and joined together via gentle slopes to form a usable green roof.

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7. Basketball Stadium

Architect Von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (GMP) have designed a basketball stadium that imparts an identity and orientation to the people in the new district of Liaobu, Dongguan. With a 15,000 visitor capacity, it is built in honor of the most successful Chinese basketball team- The Dongguan Leopards. Every element of the sport basketball has been abstracted architecturally in various ways. For example, the circular ring on a raised platform is indicative of the hoop of a basketball basket to which the facade is attached, like the net to the hoop. The typical orange color of the ball appears behind the net-like facade in the form of the external structure of the arena, and also features in its interior. The steel roof structure consists of an external, vertically undulating pressure ring from which suspended, are 28 ribbons supporting a lattice frame structure for bracing. The roof area is supported on zigzag shaped struts. The cable network façade between the roof and a floor consisting of triangular panels of insulating glazing is a state-of-the-art and unique intervention.

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8. NOUS Restaurant&Flowers / 0321 STUDIO

Creative agency 0321 conceptualized the first inventive and experimental floral restaurant for Nous in the Dongcheng District in Dongguan. It offers mixed services of exploring the aesthetics of ingredients and floral matching. Situated along the street, the main idea behind the design was to solve the relationship between floral and dining in visual, functional and emotional ways. The design proposal challenges to rethink the necessity of easily recognizing a restaurant from the outside. Therefore, here the visual information of the restaurant is camouflaged by the floral function. The floral area exhibits itself as the interface between the interior and the public, without interfering with the dining area.

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9. Botanical Garden and Research Centre – Coming Soon

Coming soon to Dongguan is its very own Botanical Garden and Research Centre. John McAslan +Partners’ design proposal has been selected for the same, where the scheme showcases a large grid shell biodome that participates with the landscaped mounds both inside and outside. A ribbon of glass around the base of the roof structure enables views that blend these exterior and interior landscapes. It will be a futuristic structure that would soon become an architectural marvel in itself once built.

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Michelle Thomas

For Michelle Thomas, architecture could be described as an afterthought decision of life. However, her fondness for writing has always been innate. A soon to be graduate of Masters of Landscape Architecture from RMIT, Melbourne, she always found writing as the most sincere medium for communication and expression to build a narrative of architecture design.

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