This paper investigates the history and programme of the Chinese architectural journal Time + Architecture (Shidai Jianzhu). As one of the newly established architectural periodicals in post-Mao China, the journal was launched in 1984 by academics Luo Xiaowei, Wang Shaozhou and their colleagues at the Department of Architecture in Tongji University, Shanghai. The journal's close association with academic institutions and commercial design firms shaped its dual nature; that is, both scholarly and professional. At the turn of the millennium, the journal's substantial reform of editorial policy redefined its character from a ‘presenter’ of received materials to a ‘producer’ of selected collaborative work, and enabled it to maintain editorial distinctiveness in the Chinese architectural publishing scene.
This paper argues that Time + Architecture constructed a significant place for critical practice in contemporary China through the presentation of critical architecture and architectural criticism. Over the past few decades, the journal, under the editorship of Zhi Wenjun, published a number of special issues on the work of emerging independent architects such as Yung Ho Chang, Wang Shu, Liu Jiakun and others. The thematic topics, projects and criticisms presented by the journal exemplified an editorial agenda to publish innovative and exploratory work and demonstrated the editors' and contributors' collective endeavours to develop a critical discourse that confronted the dominant ideology of architecture.