Once Upon a China is an unconventional architectural story of great beauty, empathy, honour and sadness. The chapters are ingenious reimaginations of 'Dream of the Red Mansion', 'Journey to the West ', 'The Water Margin', and 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms', and are conceived as specific themes of Chinese identity: domesticity, consumerism, democracy and adaptability. These four seminal pre-modern fictions contain diverse voices and philosophical perspectives on history as well as satires that have defined past developments of Chinese societies, politics and the built environment.
Comics is an unorthodox but extraordinary medium for architectural speculations. The eccentric characteristics of comic-inspired drawings in this book enrich the processes of conception and conceptualisation of design - their fragmented yet sequential nature proves versatile in the imagination of spatial experiences, enabling the complex stories of place, brief and building to materialise. At the same time, the politicisation of architecture through comics engenders a sense of optimism to reappraise Chinese design futures and critical thinking beyond the exuberance of non-contextual Western capitalist models.