In contemporary China, ‘experimental architecture’ depicts the rise of independent architectural explorations offered by a group of young Chinese architects in the mid-1990s. These young Chinese architects claimed to have established an autonomous architecture, distant from commercial interventions. This research examines the credibility of architectural autonomy stated by these architects in light of the field theory put forward by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. Through this interdisciplinary perspective, the paper focuses on the often overlooked interpersonal networks of critics, architects, and publishers. Through analysing their roles in promoting these experimental architects on the basis of professional publications, this research argues that the notion of architectural autonomy is constituted by a symbiotic collaboration among these actors through a discursive approach and architectural autonomy, despite indicating an architectural resistance against commercial forces, serves a commodity sold in the cultural market.
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