Jun Zhang

Jun Zhang
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm
Room 622, 6/F, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
From Buildings to Streets: Qilou and the Politics of Heritage Preservation
Jun Zhang

Jun Zhang
Research Assistant Professor,
Hong Kong Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (HKIHSS),
The University of Hong Kong

Calvin Zhiyong Liang
Post-doctoral Fellow,
Division of Landscape Architecture, The University of Hong Kong


Qilou (骑楼), a kind of arcade buildings, has attracted considerable attention in preservation discourses and practices in Guangzhou, China. Yet, the focus on individual buildings and architectural styles might have overlooked its role in the historical transformation of the city and its streetscape in the early twentieth century. In this talk, I will reconstruct a history of city building based on archival research on Canton (present-day Guangzhou) in the 1920s and 1930s. I show that groups of qilou resulted from elaborate institutional inventions to carry out street building projects in the city’s pursuit of modernization. By highlighting the political process in which the construction of qilouwas embedded, I raise the question of what to remember in the politics of heritage preservation.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Jun Zhang is a sociocultural anthropologist. Before she joined the University of Hong Kong, she had taught in the Department of Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr College​ in the United States. Her research interests include middle-class culture, philanthropy and humanitarianism, automobility and infrastructure, spatial politics and urbanization, with a regional focus on China. She is finishing her first book manuscript on the entangled rises of the middle class and the automotive regime in China. She is working on a new project that explores the spatial metamorphosis of Canton (present-day Guangzhou) as a way to critically evaluate the socio-economic and political transformation in the intense urbanization processes in China.

The DLA Research Seminar Series provides a platform to discuss scholarly research on the built environment that is interdisciplinary in nature. The series aims to identify common research threads from landscape architecture, architecture, planning, urban design, and conservation, and by doing so instigates critical reflections on the different approaches to the study of landscapes and cities. For the list of seminar topics, see

All are welcome. For enquiries, call: 3917 7699