CHEN Liran
1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Room 428, 4/F, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road Hong Kong
Modern Urban Transport & the Imagination of Traditional Mountainous Cityscape: The History of Three-dimensional Urban Passenger Transport in Chongqing
CHEN Liran
PhD Candidate,
Department of Architecture

Department of Architecture
RPG Lunchtime Presentation Series
Spring 2019

Primary supervisor: Dr. Tao ZHU
Co-supervisor: Prof. Weijen WANG

[Image Credit: Ling Tao, “Lao Ma Tou De Ke Huo Lan Che (The Passenger and Freight Cable Cars in Old Ferries)”. Hong Yan Chun Qiu, no. 4 (2018): 66-71.]


Beginning in the 1940s, Chongqing gradually developed a series of modern urban public transport facilities adaptive specifically to the mountain-river topography of the city, including cross-river cableways, slope cable cars, and public elevator, some of which were pioneering experiments in modern mountainous urban public transport development in Mainland China. After being put into service, these three-dimensional transport facilities gradually became one of the representative cultural symbols of Chongqing as a “mountain-river city”. Also, in different periods, Chongqing citizens understood and interpreted the cultural significance of three-dimensional transport in different ways. Studying the history of three-dimensional transport contributes to studying how Chongqing imagined its cultural identity as a “mountain-river city” in its modernization process. This presentation investigates selected cases of three-dimensional transport facilities in Chongqing, in terms of how they were designed, and how Chongqing citizens in different periods experienced, understood and interpreted them, so as to analyze the relationship between three-dimensional transport and the modernization of Chongqing as well as the city’s “mountain-river city” identity. The presentation argues that modern three-dimensional transport was produced by the contradiction between Chongqing’s public transport modernization attempt and the scarcity of urban development resources, and such transport has switched paradoxically from a symbol of the city’s modernization to part of the city’s traditional mountainous cityscape in the citizens’ perception since the 2000s. Such switch is because Chongqing’s modernization project since the 1990s has significantly weakened the city’s mountain-river feature.


Liran Chen is a PhD candidate in Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. His PhD dissertation investigates how the city of Chongqing imagined, constructed and interpreted its cultural identity as a “mountain-river city” in its modernization experiment in China’s post-1978 economic reform. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master of Architecture from Chongqing University, did his internship in Jiakun Architects (Chengdu) and Tanghua Architect & Associates (Shenzhen), and is a member of Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and International Planning History Society (IPHS).