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Festivals in Old Streets in Two Chinese Cities

Gao, Yun, Temple, Nicholas and Li, Yan (2017) Festivals in Old Streets in Two Chinese Cities. Architecture and Culture. ISSN 2050-7828 (In Press)

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Situated amidst the contemporary skyscrapers of many Chinese cities today, commercial streets have emerged in traditional Chinese styles that serve as places to host festive celebrations and to satisfy everyday leisure and commercial needs. Buildings that are situated along these streets operate at one level as ritual ‘encasements’ that frame the festival processions, and thereby ‘speak’ of ceremonial meanings. As such, these framing devices constitute material remnants of past festival events periodically re-activated as public spectacles or during momentary episodes of individual/collective recollection.
This study explores themes relating to these intersections between building and festive occasion through an examination of two traditionally designed commercial streets in China. One is Water Street in Yancheng, a newly constructed ‘Old Street’ in traditional Hui building styles located on the east coast of China. The other is Old Street in Kunming City in southwest China, a street built during Ming and Qing dynasties and renovated over a sustained period during the past ten years. These two streets convey very different ideas about representing (and re-enacting) history in architectural settings. The former could be said to constitute a unified language of traditional materials and technologies that expresses traditional ideologies and principles. The latter, on the other hand, comprises a mixture of contemporary and historical architectural craftsmanship (juxtaposing traditional and modern forms, materials and ornaments) that are consciously intended to communicate connections between past and present. The study argues that architecture in these two cases presents in different ways a ‘foregrounding’ of festivals, in which participants are reminded of previous events. Accordingly, architectural elements and their details serve as substitutes to words, in the way they re-capitulate the verbal and gestural meanings of festivals through design language.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Commercial street; Festival; Architectural language
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Schools: School of Art, Design and Architecture
Depositing User: Jonathan Cook
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2018 11:37
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2018 15:00


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