Chu, Cecilia L. “‘Placing ‘Asia’ against the ‘West’: Occidentalism and the Production of Architectural Images in Shanghai and Hong Kong.” Architectural Theory Review Vol. 22, no. 3 (2018): 309-337.
This paper explores the idea of architecture and Occidentalism in the writings of building journals and illustrated magazines in the early twentieth century. More specifically, it examines how images of architecture, buildings and landscapes of the “West” and the “non-West” were used as key tropes to construct particular imaginaries and moral claims at a specific time and space: republican Shanghai and colonial Hong Kong from the mid-1920s to the late 1930s. Central to these developments was the emergence of new image-making practices that were made available by modern printing technologies, which led to a surge of production and circulation of images in the popular press. As a salient representation of modernity, progress and achievements of “civilizations,” images of architecture came to capture the attention of architects and builders, cultural producers and the fast-growing middle-class reading public in these metropolises. The exploration of these representational practices raises several questions: What kinds of assumptions about the “West” and the “non-West” were associated with these architectural images at this time? What kinds of new knowledge did the authors of these articles seek to produce through their experimentation with new visual and textual strategies? How did these representations relate to and differ from those in the more authoritative architectural historiographies? Finally, if these narrative productions about the West can be seen as processes of Occidentalism, what new historical insights do they offer?
Chu, Cecilia L. “Envisioning Future Pasts: Heritage and Emergent Activism in Postcolonial Macau and Hong Kong.” In Urban Asias: Essays on Futurity Past and Present, edited by Tim Bunnell and Daniel P.S. Goh, 64-76. Berlin: Jovis Verlag, 2018.
Abstract: This essay contributes to the discussion of urban futures in Asia by examining heritage conservation as a specific kind of future-oriented urban intervention through which different social actors seek to reshape the forms and norms of cities. More specifically, it explores these dynamics in Macau and Hong Kong, two postcolonial city-states that have seen a rapid rise of social activism centering on heritage protection in recent years. By attending to the narratives of different stakeholders, I elucidate the divergent motivations in conservation campaigns and the importance of historical experiences in shaping possessive relationships to the city. The comparison of Macau and Hong Kong further shows that their very different forms of “colonial heritage” have continued to serve as key references for the construction of cultural imaginaries of the past. At the same time, the growing desire for building a more open and democratic society amidst economic and political integration with China has helped galvanized alternate visions of the future that are increasingly shared by citizenries in both territories.
Ying ZHOU “Urban Loopholes: Creative Alliances of Spatial Production in Shanghai’s City Center 城中之隙 上海城市中心地帶空间发展中的創意性合作” (2017, Birkhäuser, ISBN 978-3035611045)
Chu, Cecilia L. “Constructing a New Domestic Discourse: The Modern Home in Architectural Journals and Mass Market Texts in Early 20th Century China.” Journal of Architecture 22, 6 (September 2017): 1066-1091.
Abstract: This article explores how changing ideals of the modern home were articulated in China’s architectural journals and mass market texts during the 1920s and 1930s, More specifically, I examine how the design of residential houses and domestic arrangements became a subject of intellectual and political concern for architects and cultural intermediaries. By tracing the competing moral claims ascribed to the modern home through these writings, I illustrate their shifting assumptions about the “social role” of architecture in the Chinese context. I argue that while these critiques were closely related to those in Europe and elsewhere, they were specific responses to accelerating capitalist urbanization in China and were undergirded by a shared anxiety among Chinese elites and professional experts to institute an authentic modern design culture. Central to their efforts was the belief that well designed dwellings would not only help to improve the lives of Chinese citizens, but also transform their everyday day habits and develop China into a more “civilized,” healthy and productive nation. While modern architecture was promoted by architects as a means to modernization and social betterment, they were also presented by builders and property investors to encourage consumption for the home by projecting imaginaries of modern domestic life. Explorations of these competing conceptions will contribute to a fuller understanding of the contradictory perspectives of architecture and domesticity in an unsettling period characterized by simmering social discontent and emerging nationalism. The attention to lesser known figures in this study will also elucidate the multifarious exchange of knowledge between different factions of architects and institutions beyond the familiar ones represented in existing historiography.
Devabhaktuni, Sony. “On Writing / Drawing.” In Go Field & Towers, edited by Guillaume Othenin-Girard and Nigel Peake, 223-229. Paris: Amarillo Press, 2017.
Liang, Zhiyong. “從平民村到工人新村–上海公營住宅延續的文明教化使命, 1927-1951年 [From Village for Commoners to Workers’ New Village–The Continual Civilising Mission of Shanghai’s Public Housing, 1927-1951].” Time+ Architecture 時代建築 2(2017): 30-35.
Abstract: This article aims to explore the continuity of Shanghai’s public housing development in the first half of the 20th century. It seeks to examine three important aspects of the Republican “Villages for Commoners” and the Socialist “Workers’ New Village.” The first is
the changing meanings ascribed to the term “new village,” which had since the 1920s become the name of many pioneering urban proposals as well as a key site of housing reform. Second, it examines different ways of thinking about the role of housing reform and urban governance in building a new society in Republican China. Third, it analyses the role of different actors, such as government and professionals, in shaping the practice and narratives of public housing. Through the comparison of the Republican “Villages for Commoners” and the Socialist “Workers’ New Village,” it argues that the civilising mission and “scientific” comprehensive planning originating from early 20th century had been passed on in the Republican public housing projects and the Socialist New Village development, despite their difference in ideology and urban policy.
Zhou, Ying. Urban Loopholes: Creative Alliances of Spatial Productions in Shanghai’s City Center. Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2017.
Taking cases from the until-now little-analyzed un-demolished remains of city center neighborhoods in Shanghai, the book Urban Loopholes: Creative Alliances of Spatial Production in Shanghai’s City Center by Dr. Ying Zhou unpacks the seemingly anarchic and opportunistic urban spatial production system of the contemporary Chinese city to address what has perplexed Western public as well as scholars alike.
Zhou, Ying. “Gentrification with Chinese Characteristics? City Centre Transformations in Shanghai.” In Progress & Prosperity The Chinese City as Global Urban Model, 68–83. Amsterdam: NAi Publishers, 2017.
Zhou, Ying 周颖. “After the Natural: Studies in Singapore’s Built Environment [自然之后：新加坡建成环境研究].” LEAP [艺术界], January 2017, 29–35.
Chu, Cecilia L. “Narrating the Mall City.” In Stefan Al, ed., Mall City: Hong Kong’s Dreamworlds of Consumption, 83-90. Hong Kong University Press, 2016. ISBN-10 0824855418
Eric H Schuldenfrei, “The Films of Charles and Ray Eames” (2015)
The Films of Charles and Ray Eames traces the history of the Eameses’ work, examining their evolution away from the design of mass-produced goods and toward projects created as educational experiences. Closely examining how the Eameses described their work reveals how the films and exhibitions they generated were completely at odds with the earlier objectives exemplified in their furniture designs. Shifting away from promoting the consumer-culture, they turned their attention to the presentation of complex sets of scientific, artistic, and philosophical ideas.
During a critical period from the late 1950s to the early 1960s there was a moment of introspective self-reflection in the West stemming from the events of the Cold War. This moment of uncertainty was crucial, for it provided the incentive to question the values and concerns of society as a whole. In turn, designers began to question their own sense of purpose, temporarily expanding the purview of design to a broader field of inquiry. In the case of the Eameses, they identified an overriding problem related to consumerism and excess in America and sought to resolve the issue by creating a network of communication between universities, governments, institutions, and corporations. The solution of promoting greater education experiences as an alternative to consumerism in America required that different sectors of society functioned in unison to address political, social, economic, and educational concerns. The Films of Charles and Ray Eames reconsiders how design intersects with humanity, culture, and the sciences.
This publication was made possible through generous funding from the Graham Foundation. Founded in 1956, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations and produces public programmes to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society.
Chu, Cecilia L. and Romola Sanyal. “Spectacular Cities of Our Time.” Geoforum 65 (October 2015):
399-402. (Editorial for a special issue, entitled “Spectacle Cities”).
Cole Roskam, “Non-Aligned Architecture: China’s Designs on and in Ghana and Guinea, 1955-1992.” Architectural History 58 (2015): 161-91.
Abstract: This article examines a series of architectural collaborations between the People’s Republic of China and two of sub-Saharan Africa’s first decolonized governments in Ghana and Guinea. It offers an introduction into the nature of diplomatic exchange between these three countries, the geopolitical forces at work in such development, and the architecture that resulted.
Contextualizing early international relations between China, Ghana and Guinea through architectural form and practice offers new insight, not only into the history of Chinese aid in Africa, but as it concerns the dynamics shaping Chinese engagement with numerous African countries today. As physical evidence of new Sino-African partnerships, Chinese design and construction projects in both Ghana and Guinea presented a welcome alternative to preexisting, colonial and Cold War-era infrastructural production models. Analysis of the works themselves, however, coupled with the political and ideological rhetoric behind their production, reveals a kind of cross-cultural cooperation inscribed with many of the same operational and, over time, epistemic imbalances that marked other kinds of foreign architectural engagement with Africa.
Cole Roskam, “Practicing Reform: Experiments in Post-Revolutionary Chinese Architectural Production, 1973-1989.” Journal of Architectural Education (JAE) 69, no. 1 (March 2015): 28-39.
Abstract: This article explores the relationship between architectural praxis and political economic reform in China between 1973 and 1989. It looks specifically at how modifications in the practice of architectural design corresponded to the project of socialist China’s economic liberalization.
My research seeks to locate the emergence of what can be considered the “crisis” of reform in China not through architectural form or aesthetics, per se, but rather through substantial changes in the way that the industry of architectural design was organized and managed. A closer examination of significant shifts in the methods of design, the operative mechanisms through which designs were created and implemented, and the degree of international engagement involved in socialist Chinese design production offers new insight into how reform-era Chinese architectural practice helped to both catalyze and index broader processes of cultural change.
Cole Roskam, “Envisioning Reform: The International Hotel in Post-Revolutionary China, 1974-1990.” Grey Room 58, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 84-111.
This article explores the reemergence of the international hotel in early reform-era Chinese architectural and political culture, beginning with the Beijing Hotel’s appearance on the May 1974 cover of China’s premier architectural journal and culminating in John Portman’s Shanghai Centre, completed in 1993. It positions the hotel as an important site of intermediacy, both in physical and conceptual terms, that facilitated the fulfillment of new economic and programmatic needs considered crucial to economic reform. As my research argues, reconciling new modes of architectural thinking and production with prevailing socialist theory and practice through and within the hotel was controversial and destabilizing, but it helped reposition China within the global economy while establishing a theoretical underpinning for Chinese architectural development and discourse that remains relevant today.
Chu, Cecilia L. “Spectacular Macau: Visioning Futures for A World Heritage City.” Geoforum 65 (October 2015): 440-450.
This paper examines the conflicting sentiments generated by Macau’s recent developments and how these dynamics have helped galvanize particular visions amongst Macau’s residents holding different possessive relationships to the city. More specifically, it explores these processes through the simultaneous construction of two incongruent landscapes: a fantasyland of gaming and leisure propelled by the liberalization of the casino industry, and a ‘historic city of culture’ exemplified by Macau’s newly acquired UNESCO World Heritage City status. Building on Debord’s conception of the dialectic of the spectacle, this paper illustrates how the growing support for heritage conservation in Macau has been propelled by a shared anxiety over the phenomenal changes brought by an expanding casino industry and concomitant erosion of Macau’s cultural identity. Through extensive interviews with local architects, conservation experts and activists, I elucidate how the designation of Macau as a World Heritage City has helped consolidate particular sets of moral claims around heritage and culture as well as introduced new commodifications of the environment that cannot be easily delinked from other spaces of the ‘spectacle city.’
Cole Roskam, “Situating Chinese Architecture within ‘A Century of Progress’: The Chinese Pavilion, The Bendix Golden Temple, and the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 73, no. 3 (September 2014): 347-71.
Abstract: This article explores the overlooked role played by Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair in China’s twentieth-century architectural development. The exposition initially represented a valuable opportunity for China’s recently established Guomindang administration to highlight its new political agenda. However, extensive archival research has yielded a complex narrative of numerous financial and geopolitical obstacles that would eventually prevent official Chinese participation. Instead, two “unofficial” structures were completed on China’s behalf: a privately financed Chinese pavilion, and a piece-by-piece reconstruction of the Golden Temple, an eighteenth-century Tibetan Buddhist shrine, sponsored by the Chicago-based industrialist Vincent Bendix. Detailed analysis of visual and textual evidence of both buildings reveals a more tangled intertwining of international forces impacting early twentieth-century Chinese architectural representation than the challenges already known to have existed. This article argues that the fair be re-assessed as an important new point of inquiry in the history of modern Chinese architectural discourse and development.
Chu, Cecilia. “Combating Nuisance: Sanitation, Regulation, and the Politics of Property in Colonial Hong Kong.” In Robert Peckham and David Pomfret, eds., Imperial Contagions: Medicine and the Cultures of Planning in Asia, 17-36. Hong Kong University Press, 2013. ISBN 979-988-8139-52-
Chu, Cecilia. “Shanzheng (善政) and Gongde (公德): Moral Regulation and Narratives of ‘Good Government’ in Colonial Hong Kong.” Journal of Historical Geography 42 (October 2013): 180-192.
While ‘good government’ has long been hailed as a defining feature of colonial Hong Kong, this paper argues that it should be seen as an epistemological ordering frame whose existence relied upon constant processes of moralization undertaken by many actors across multiple scales. Central to this was the invocation of certain ways of thinking about the roles of government and citizens implicit in Chinese historical experience. These moral constructs, transplanted and transformed within the colonial milieu, became central elements in the way many British officials and Chinese residents came to express themselves, and by doing so constituted themselves as governing subjects upholding colonial rule. To explore the role of these constructs in particular situated practices and broader strategies of colonial governance, this paper focuses on two case studies concerning the improvement of public health amidst growing threats of epidemics between 1900 and 1908. Although these efforts were not successful in containing the spread of diseases, the emphasis on self-help and revival of ‘local traditions’ for encouraging people to improve their neighborhoods helped engender a sense of pride and solidarity amongst the Chinese residents and propagated the idea that Hong Kong was an orderly, ‘civilized’ Chinese society superior to that of mainland China itself. Although both case studies are drawn from particular sites, it is clear that the initiation, implementation and effects of the projects were not confined to the local scale, but were tied to larger shifts in the forms of governance and emerging political discourses beyond Hong Kong. They thus highlight the ‘networks of multiple scales’ and the translocal processes through which competing conceptions of Hong Kong and its relations to the world were actively being constructed by different actors under colonial rule.
Zhou, Ying. “上海中心城区: 在全球愿景和本土构架之间 [Between global aspirations and local frameworks: city center Shanghai].” Urban China 城市中国 56 (2013): 68–73.
Zhou, Ying. “Urban Loopholes: Tactics of Survival and Manifestations of Desires in Damascus.” Critical Planning 17, no. Resilient Cities (October 2010): 88–107.