Research Centre: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Initiative
Active Dates: January 2017 - July 2019
Project Title: Shaping a New Moral Topography: Emerging Roles of Landscape Design in the Planning of Chinese Cities, 1911-1949
Principal Investigator: Cecilia L. Chu, DLA
Project Funder: Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s General Research Fund (GRF) Award
This research aims to explore the growing significance of landscape design in the planning of Chinese cities from 1911-1949. It seeks to explore three under-‐examined aspects of this shift. The first is the changing meanings ascribed to new types of landscape spaces that emerged in this period; including public parks, botanical gardens, children’s playgrounds and other recreational venues, which had by the 1920s become key sites of modernization and nationalist social reform under the government of the Republican of China. Second, it considers the interconnection between studies of landscapes and other newly established professional disciplines, including botanical science, civil engineering, public health, urban planning and urban administration. Third, it examines how modernist landscape spaces were articulated in a variety of narratives, such as academic writings, social commentaries, fictions, textbooks and children’s primers. By tracing the multiple interpretation of the roles of landscape and connecting them with key planning projects initiated in this period, this research elucidates the complex forces behind the shaping of forms and norms of cities in China in the early 20th century, an unsettling epoch in which social discontent, simmering nationalism, and emergent aspirations for a better urban future intersect.