Dr. Zhu Xu 徐翥

Dr. Zhu Xu 徐翥
1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Room 428, 4/F, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road Hong Kong
LIU Yuanfang
PhD Candidate
Department of Architecture
HKU Department of Architecture
Research Seminar Series
Sixth Century as Experimental Beginnings:
(Re)searching Medieval Buddhist Architecture
Dr. Zhu Xu 徐翥
Assistant Professor
Department of Architecture

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Meeting ID: 235 618 8839
Password: 499785760


A careful reading of the history of sixth-century Chinese Buddhist architecture reveals a number of new building types appeared in southern cosmopolitan monasteries, which served significant sources for later Tang monastery to follow. Historically they were envisioned by Emperor Wu of the Liang (r. 502-549) in his pursuit of a religio-political agenda that aimed to emulate Indian spatial order as well as to impose imperial imagery to monastic ritual sphere. Unlike Pagoda or Image Hall, creating these building types did not have any physical model to imitate, as the emperor drew inspiration from translated texts and writings of Chinese travelers, but involved a process of translating spatial pattern that was new to the Chinese. This re-conception challenged the emperor and his monastic advisor to search appropriate forms in Chinese architectural vocabulary, from individual structure to building compound, as alternatives that could house particular ritual programs. Emperor Wu’s Buddhist projects and architectural experiments not only bring insights into the understudied southern monastery, but also enrich our knowledge of how cross-cultural interactions in medieval China could give rise to spatial and formal typologies. This presentation shares Zhu’s on-going research on the architectural history of China’s Southern dynasties (420-589); part of the work is published on the 2020 December Issue of Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH).


Zhu Xu is an assistant professor at the Department of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong. His research primarily focuses on Asia’s religious material culture and built environment, with a particular focus on Chinese Buddhist architecture and building tradition in their ritual-spiritual contexts. His book Shanhua Monastery: Temple Architecture and Esoteric Buddhist Rituals in Medieval China, is under contract with the Cultural Relics Press, one of China’s leading academic publishers in the field of art and architectural history. The manuscript of another book project, Buddhist Architecture and Esoteric Rituals: Perception of Form, Space and Setting in Medieval East Asia, is currently under review by the University of Hawaii Press.


LIU Yuanfang
PhD Candidate
Department of Architecture

Liu Yuanfang is a PhD candidate at the Department of Architecture, HKU. Her research interest is Chinese architecture history and theory. And her work focuses on the spatial transformation of Chinese Buddhist temples in northern China from Tang-Song to Ming-Qing, and the corresponding structural and cultural factors.

* Maximum capacity of Room KB 428 is 15 only.

All interested are welcome.