Dawson, Layla

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Female. Education: University of Newcastle upon Tyne, degree in architecture.


Office—21079 Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany. E-mail[email protected].


Architect and project manager working in Hong Kong, China, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom, 1975-89; Hong Kong Polytechnic, senior lecturer in architecture, 1987-89; freelance novelist and architecture and literature critic based in Hamburg, Germany, beginning 1989.


Royal Institute of British Architects.


Daniel Libeskind—Felix Nussbaum Haus: Museum ohne Ausgang, Prestel Verlag (New York, NY), 1998.

Berlin: Modern Architecture, Carlton Books (London, England), 2002.

China's New Dawn: An Architectural Transformation, Prestel Verlag (New York, NY), 2005.

Brit and Brown, Arche Literateur Verlag (Hamburg, Germany), 2006.

Contributor to books, including Alles Design, Rowohlt Berlin Verlag, 1991, and annual Deutsches Architektur Museum Jahrbuch, Prestel Verlag, 1999, 2000, 2001; contributor to exhibition catalogs Zvi Hecker: Architektur ist Landschaft, Deutsches Architektur Zentrum, 1997 and High Society, Deutsches Architektur Museum, 2006. Contributor to professional journals, including Building Design, Baumeister, Blueprint, Stadia, Architectural Review, World Architecture, Der Architekt, and to the London Guardian. Also author of short fiction and literary reviews published in Germany.


An architect turned architecture critic, Layla Dawson drew critical attention for her third book, China's New Dawn: An Architectural Transformation. Here she studies the immense and fast-paced building boom that has been occurring in the communist nation in the early twenty-first century and its impact on architectural design. A pronounced Western influence and desire to impress the world has resulted in some artistically questionable designs in China's cityscapes, the book reveals, such as the television headquarters in Beijing and the monstrous National Theatre just outside the Forbidden City. The Chinese have brought in many European architects to design these structures, who have apparently indulged their fancies without always keeping in mind sound architectural concepts about aesthetics and functionality. There have been a few exceptions to this rule, and the author discusses some of the better buildings recently constructed, but overall Architectural Review critic Peter Davey found Dawson to be far from "uncritical" about the buildings being thrown up in Beijing, Shanghai, and other cities. "With energy, insight and iron guts," Davey concluded, "she has recorded both camouflage and some of what it conceals: one of the most extraordinary episodes in the whole history of architecture." Library Journal reviewer David Soltesz described the book as a "timely and perceptive survey [that] is among the first aimed at a general audience."



Architectural Review, October, 2005, Peter Davey, "Red Dawn," review of China's New Dawn: An Architectural Transformation, p. 102.

Library Journal, January 1, 2006, David Soltesz, review of China's New Dawn, p. 109.


International Architecture Database,http://www.archinform.net/ (July 23, 2006), biographical information on Layla Dawson.

Layla Dawson Home Page,http://www.britandbrown.de (August 24, 2006).