Skip to main content


Chinese and European Perspectives on Architecture and Heritage

Dr Yun Gao and Professor Nicholas Temple (Huddersfield University)

In our paper we use Trachtenberg’s dialectical model of building temporality as a lens for comparing building practices in China and Europe. The paper begins with a brief comparative study of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Forbidden City in Beijing, highlighting how building through time in both examples diverges, reflecting very different attitudes towards material culture, concepts of heritage and physical and cultural contexts. The second part of the paper will examine a contemporary building project in Yancheng (Salt City), an ancient city located on the north bank of the Yangtze River. Called ‘Water Street’, this commercial project was modelled on traditional shopping streets from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The study will demonstrate how the conscious emulation of building forms and associated ceremonial/ritual practices from the past, in a city whose built heritage was largely erased from history, provides an intriguing example of how ‘historical fabrication’ was implemented outside any temporal or contextual framework that would be deemed meaningful from a Western (European) perspective.

Event details

Dr_Yun_Gao_and_Prof_Nicholas_Temple.docx (456K)