Contemporary Architectural Production is Kitsch

Categories: Architecture


During the late nineteenth century, there was a huge shift that resulted in a rapid rise of the middle class (worker class). These people demanded a change so as to enjoy the city’s traditional culture. Kitsch was seen as the by-product of this social change.

“Kitsch is a product of industrial revolution which urbanized the masses of Western Europe and America and established what is called universal literacy.”

By the beginning of the twentieth-century “kitsch” had become an international culture as many countries had adopted it.

The etymology of “kitsch” is still an arguable topic, scholars trace the origin of “kitsch” from German verb “kitschen” which literally mean “to collect rubbish off the street”. I believe today’s designers produce structures that are instantly relatable to any human being thus I propose Contemporary Architectural Production is Kitsch.

My first example is The Lotus Building designed by Studio 505 in Wujin, China was completed in the year 2013. This building houses government offices, conference rooms, meeting rooms and a new exhibition hall which is built in the middle of an artificial lake.

The concept is inspired by the lotus flower, the building form imitates the transition of the lotus flower`s evolution, from a young bud to mature bloom as shown in Figure 1. The building is a clear imitation of the lotus flower but it does not lack originality. As Hermann writes in his essay “You must neither completely nor partially copy the works of others. If so, you will be producing kitsch”.

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There are several other buildings that look similar to flower lotus for e.g, The Lotus Building in New Delhi, but this one is unique in its own way. The architect chose this concept as he wanted to convey the message that every individual in the community has to stay and flourish together instead of moving away. The architect was trying to emphasize on the lotus as it has a cultural significance in China. This building is kitsch as people relate to it as a cultural landmark which emphasize on perfection and purity of both the heart and mind.

“Kitsch lavishly relishes imitation. Art separates itself from nature as absolutely as possible.”

My next example is Meitan Tea Museum located in Guizhou Province, China. Meitan is the largest producer of green tea in the world. To symbolize this, the local government decided to construct a museum in the shape of a giant teapot with a teacup. The 73.8 meters tall building is surrounded by China’s largest tea fields as seen in Figure 2. This architectural wonder is a Guinness World Record holder for the largest teapot shaped structure. Meitan Tea Museum showcases its history and culture in relation to tea.

Greenberg in his article he states that “The subject matter of art was prescribed by those who commissioned works of art, …….Precisely because his content was determined in advance, the artist was free to concentrate on his medium. He need not be a philosopher, or visionary, but simply artificer.”. The architect of Meitan tea museum was commissioned to build a scaled up teapot with a cup. He had to only work out the construction details to produce the expected outcome. Everyone can identify this building(form and function) has something to do with tea from a distance itself. This building does not have extensive meaning, everything is seen on the surface.

“The objects or themes depicted by kitsch are instantly and effortlessly identifiable”

Will this building get same recognition if it was built in the shape of tea leaf instead of a teapot? Maybe not.

My last example is The Fish Building in Hyderabad, India which was officially opened in April 2012. The purpose was to build a government office for the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) which is unique. As shown in Figure 3 the giant fish-shaped is cladded with silver ACP panels to resemble the fish scales, blue circular glass window for eyes and the building is punctuated for a hollow mouth. This building lacks irony, the form mimics fish for the reason that the work done inside relates to fish. As Thomas Kulka mentions “ Kitsch is totally incompatible with even the mildest form of questioning; that is, with irony. Kitsch always means what it says, and says it literally. There are no two ways of reading kitsch.” The public instantly relates to this building, because they already have a prior knowledge of how a fish looks in their mind.

Each above-mentioned building is quickly recognizable and relatable to all human being hence they are popular. Kitsch relates architecture to people`s life. Kitsch is a style that tries to improvize over the time. Today’s` Contemporary Architecture Production is making architecture accessible to all culture, regardless of whether high or low, as kitsch perceives all as creative.

  • Figure 1: The Lotus Building, Wujin, China (2013) Architect: Studio 505 Image available at:
  • Figure 2: Meitan Tea Museum, Guizhou Province, China. Architect: Unknown Image available at:
  • Figure 3:The Fish Building in Hyderabad, India (2012) Architect: Unknown Image available at:

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Contemporary Architectural Production is Kitsch. (2021, Apr 21). Retrieved from

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