ultramarinus – beyond the sea

2015 Kaiping and Guangzhou

CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China

Our last day in Guangzhou was dedicated to the contemporary architecture at Zhujiang New Town again.  The night before, we had a brief visit of the area to check out Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House, Rocco’s Guangdong Museum, and Nikken Sekkei’s Central Library illuminated with dramatic lights.  The next day we returned to check out the interior of these buildings.

The first stop we made was Guangzhou Opera House.  We joined a 1.5 hour guided tour that took us into the a number of the major spaces in the complex, from the main auditorium to practice rooms.  While the interior spaces of the Opera House were visually impressive, the uncounted design and construction deficiencies and traces of poor maintenance were all difficult to ignore.  Nevertheless, Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House still stood out as the most unique architecture we saw in Guangzhou.

Not far from the Opera House stood the new Guangzhou Library designed by Japanese design firm Nikken Sekkei.  Completed in 2013, Guangzhou Library is a neatly detailed and designed public building.  Once got in, we were immediately overwhelmed by the large and airy atrium and the glassy link bridges overhead.  We wandered in the library briefly before moving over to the Guangdong Provincial Museum.  Opened in 2010, Rocco Design Architects’ museum building is a mega-scale Chinese treasure box.  Similar to the library, the main atrium space of the museum offered a pleasant surprise for us.  A single footbridge high up overhead created a dramatic visual impact.  To our disappointment, we then discovered that it was blocked off from public access as soon as we reached the bridge.  The permanent collection of the museum presented the rich heritage of various regions in Guangdong.

It was late afternoon by the time we left Guangdong Museum.  We rushed to the Guangzhou East Station for our direct intercity train back to Hong Kong.  Overall our three-day trip was a pleasant introduction to the heritage of Guangdong Province.  Seeing the photogenic diaolous in Kaiping County was especially interesting for us.  Perhaps one day we would return to Kaiping at a different season, such as early spring when yellow mustard flowers blanketed the fields under the shadow of the century-old watchtowers.

01From the metro station, we made a short walk underground before ascending to the ground level.  At almost 600m, the Canton Tower played well as an urban icon for us to orient ourselves.

02Approaching Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House and the reflective pool.

03The triangular ceiling coffers and curved concrete walls reminded me of Hadid’s other projects,

04The ceiling motif did remind me of Hadid’s Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany.

05Bronze statue at a stair landing that led to the underground parking level.

06The magnificent main auditorium of Guangzhou Opera House.

07Cool light troughs filled up the walls and ceiling of the music practice room.

08The wavy ceiling and wall treatment of the dance studio was another highlight of our guided tour.

09Interior circulation space in the Opera House on the upper levels.

10During daytime, the building structure and facade details could be closely examined by visitors.

11Overall view of the Opera House.

12Atrium of the smaller concert hall in the Opera House complex.

13Approaching the Guangzhou Manmade Library.

14Central atrium of the Guangzhou Library.

15Rocco’s Guangdong Museum resembled an enlarged Chinese treasure box.

16The museum atrium was a remarkable design.

17New kinds of materials were used in the museum project.  The overall experience of the space was centred at the flying bridge high above.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVisitors leaving the Guangdong Museum, with Hadad’s Opera House at the back.

19The entrance path of the museum provided a nice urban playground.

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All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou

1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China

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SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China

Waking up on Shameen (Shamian) Island almost made us forget that we were traveling in China.  This unique urban sandbank is a historical gem in the City of Guangzhou.  Shameen (Shamian) Island, which literally means “sand surface island” in Chinese, was a foreign concession in the 19th century, where expats from the West lived and worked.   About a quarter of the island was the French Concession, while the British occupied the rest.  Other than trading companies, Shameen Island was also populated with foreign consulates.  In the political and social turmoil of the 20th century, Shameen Island had gone through a number of transformations.  At one point, churches and mansions were  converted into factories during early years of the Communist rule.  Today, most of the foreign establishments were gone, and many buildings have been restored to their former glory.  While factories no longer existed on the island, hotels, cafes and government offices have found their way onto Shameen Island.

For us, Shameen Island was our temporary base in Guangzhou.  Our hotel was housed in a renovated old mansion erected during the concession era.  Comparing to the busy and crowded urban areas of Guangzhou, Shameen Island seemed like a quiet enclave of Western mansions, shaded boulevard and century-old trees.  A number of Western architectural styles could be found on the island, such as Gothic and Neoclassical.  Vehicular access to the island was controlled, thus maintaining the relatively clean air and peaceful atmosphere.  In the morning, joggers and bikers took onto the central boulevard for exercise.  Before heading out to the downtown, we had a quick stroll at Shameen to absorb the tranquil atmosphere and warm morning sunshine.

16Shameen Island is bounded four sides by canal and the Pearl River.

17The island could only accessed by bridges.

15Vehicles are restricted to only the perimeter of the island.

06Government departments had moved into some of the old mansions at Shameen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPleasant balconies and terraces could be seen allover at Shameen.

09Statues could be found at many pedestrian nodes at Shameen.

05Neoclassical building and drying laundry created an interesting picture of living at Shameen.

01Morning joggers exercised at the tree-shaded boulevard.

02Shameen is popular for bikers and pedestrians.

03Part of the central boulevard has been converted into a running track.

07Badminton was also a popular game seen at Shameen.

08Badminton at Shameen.

13Elderly people also wandered around Shameen in early morning.

14Other than a place for physical exercises, Shameen has also become a popular spot for portrait photography.

04Bank of Taiwan, closed in 1949 when the Kuomintang government moved to Taiwan after its defeat by the Communists.DSC_6202Front door of the Bank of Taiwan.

DSC_6311Former Canton Club is one of the most impressive building mansions.

12The former Asiatic Petroleum Building and German Consulate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA number of Western mansions had been transformed into cafes and restaurants.

 

 
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All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou

1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China


ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China

Other than Kaiping diaolous, another reason for our 3-day excursion from Hong Kong was to check out Guangzhou’s contemporary architecture.  After arriving in Guangzhou by long distance bus, we took the city’s metro to Shamian Island (沙面島) to check in at our hotel and had a Cantonese meal.  Before calling it a day, we rushed out again to explore the new central business district to see its flamboyant buildings at night.  Soon we arrived at Zhujiang New Town Metro Station and walked towards the Opera House.

In a distance, the Guangzhou Tower on the south side of Pearl River aligned perfectly with the strip of public plaza that marked the central axis of Zhujiang New Town (珠江新城), the new central business district of Guangzhou.  Along both sides of the axis, new commercial towers lined up like soldiers queuing from afar all the way to the Pearl River.  Before reaching the river, three public buildings stood out, the Guangzhou Library designed by Japanese firm Nikken Sekkei, Guangdong Provincial Museum by Rocco Design Architects, and Guangzhou Opera House by Zaha Hadid.

01Reaching Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House from its back.

02A ramp flanked by stone walls of the opera house expressed a sense of urban fluidity.

03The craftsmanship and the maintenance of the stone cladding were far from ideal.

04Similar to many other cities around the world, The Phantom of the Opera has become a popular musical with lots of sold out shows.

05Main hall of Guangzhou Opera House with Guangzhou IFC at the rear.

06The upper plaza of the Opera House has become a hotspot for photos.

07The Guangzhou Library by Nikken Sekkei was another interesting building in the area.

08Cool facade treatment expressed horizontality and layering.

09Rocco’s Guangzhou Museum presented a sense of mystery.

10The semi-outdoor stadium on an island in the Pearl River.

12Guangzhou Tower with colouful lighting effect.

13Guangzhou IFC and the axial plaza.

14Visitors enjoyed themselves on the floor feature lighting.

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All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou

1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China


JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China

After Majianlong, our hired driver Kwan drove further southwest to Jinjiangli Village, near the town of Xian Gang.  Jinjiangli is relatively less visited by tourists because of its distance from Chikan.  We went here specifically to see Ruishi Diaolou (瑞石樓), the tallest diaolou in Kaiping.  Ruishi Diaolou is still privately owned.  We were fortunate that someone from the owner’s family was there when we went to Jinjiangli, who was willing to open the door for us with a fee.

With 9 storeys at a height of 25m, Ruishi Diaolou (瑞石樓) was built between 1923 to 1925.  The owner was a Hong Kong businessman named Wong.  The tower was structurally constructed in reinforced concrete.  Building material in China was scarce back then, Wong imported the concrete, steel rebars, glass, and timber from Hong Kong and transported up to the site via canals.  The diaolou was a mixture of architectural styles, including Roman, Byzantine, Baroque and Chinese influences.  From the living room on ground floor, we walked up the stair to visit every single floor.  The second to sixth floors were similar, with bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms.  The seventh housed a semi-outdoor terrace, the eighth an ancestral hall, and the ninth a watchtower.  The view from the top of Ruishi Diaolou to the surrounding diaolous, village homes, bamboo forest, and distant rolling hills was marvelous.

At Jinjiangli, we also passed by the other two diaolous, the Shengfeng Diaolou (升峰樓) and Jinjiang Diaolou (錦江樓).  Shengfeng was built in 1928, again using reinforced concrete.  It featured a fusion of Indian and South Asian architectural styles.  Jinjiang Dialou was built in 1918.  We didn’t stay long at Jinjiangli because we needed to catch an afternoon bus to Guangzhou.  The tour of Jinjiangli concluded our visit of Kaiping Diaolous.  Other than its photogenic qualities, the diaolous are highly valuable in documenting an era of interesting social and architectural phenomenon, when thousands of Chinese from this region of Guangdong left their homes to work and lived in the West.  Some settled permanently on foreign soil, but showed affection to their homeland by building these unique fusion architecture throughout Kaiping; while some others returned from the West with new architectural visions, and also resulted in erecting their unique versions of diaolous.

After Jinjiangli, Kwan drove us all the way to the bus terminal at Kaiping.  We were grateful to have Kwan as our driver.  Without him, we weren’t able to reach Majianlong and Jinjiangli in half day’s time.  We left Kaiping with the 3pm bus to Guangzhou.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother scene of Chinese rural setting greeted us at the entrance of Jinjiangli Village.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe gateway of Ruishi Diaolou, with Shengfeng Diaolou and Jinjiang Diaolou at the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuishi Diaolou is the tallest tower in Kaiping.

04Fresh paint was visible on Ruishi Diaolou.

4aThe vivid colours of Ruishi Diaolou looked a little funny.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhotograph of Ruishi Diaolou before its new paint.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn many floors there would be a common space, with bedrooms flanking both sides.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOld photos of the owner’s family were allover the interior.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABirdeye’s view of Jinjiangli Village from top of Ruishi Diaolou.

09Baroque details near the roof against a bamboo forest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView of Jinjiang Diaolou (centre left) and Shengfeng Diaolou (centre right) from roof of Ruishi Diaolou.

11The Shengfeng Diaolou was heavily influenced by Indian architecture.

12Final view of Ruishi Diaolou after we returned to the ground.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShengfeng Diaolou was highly decorated with Indian motifs.

14Closeup of the architectural details of Shengfeng Diaolou.

 

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All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou

1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China


VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China

The next morning, we took a local bus to Chikan again for another half day of diaolou tour.  At Chikan, we found out that the tourist shuttle bus going to Majianlong Village was temporarily suspended due to a damaged road bridge.  Across the canal from Chikan Movie Studio, we stepped in a youth hostel to seek for advise.  The staff was very kind and she suggested us to either rent a bike or hire a car/ driver.  We opted for a local driver because of time constraint.  The driver Mr. Kwan turned out to be nice and talkative.  From the construction of diaolou to the standard of living in the region, Kwan offered us good insights into the history and life in Kaiping.  We requested Kwan taking us to two more villages, Majianlong (馬降龍) and Jinjiangli (錦江里) for diaolou visits.

Due to the damage of the road bridge, Kwan took us on a rural journey via a network of small village roads.  After winding through old villages, fish ponds and rice fields, we finally reached one of the parking lots at Majianlong.  Kwan dropped us off at the village entrance and we ventured into Majianlong on our own.  The area of Majianlong was relatively large, with a few villages clustered within a large expanse of bamboo forest.  Through winding footpaths in the shade of bamboo groves, we visited a number of diaolous in Majianlong.  It was a pleasure to wander in the bamboo forest to look for the diaolous and villas.  Mosquitoes were sometimes a nuisance but in general arriving at each diaolou was like a small discovery in the forest.  Some diaolous were actually opened for visitors, with staff at the entrance checking tickets.  We also visited a privately owned diaolou where a small fee was paid to a lady by the door.  Even more so here than in Zili, the interior of some diaolous were magnificently preserved with antique furniture, beautiful floor tiles and interesting wall motifs.  For a few times we climbed up to a diaolou’s roof terrace to appreciate the scenery of distant hills and bamboo forest, in which nostalgic diaolous stood out from a sea of green.

02The high walls and diaolou watchtowers reminded visitors of the violent history of the area when banditry was common.

01One of the many small lanes leading into the village centre.

03Red painted political slogans could be found on walls of many village homes.

04In one of the diaolous we visited, a darkened oil painting was hung in the ground floor living room.

05Old black and white photographs of the owner’s ancestors and families in one of the diaolous.

06A richly articulated stair led to a diaolou’s rooftop patio.

07Like Zili, the diaolous in Majianlong presented an interesting fusion of East and West design styles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA diaolou stood in the midst of a bamboo forest.

DSC_5785Some diaolous in Majianlong were covered in the shade of bamboo for most of the day.

DSC_5777Walking on the footpath under the bamboo shade was pleasant if not the occasional mosquitoes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause of the humidity and lack of maintenance, the exterior walls of many diaolous were not in good shape.

10This kitchen of a diaolou looked untouched for decades.

11Photos of different generations of house owners could be found in many diaolous.

12Bedroom with an overhead storage.

13A splendid villa partially hidden in a bamboo grove.

14Most of the diaolou interior opened to the public had been repainted.

15Because of its height, the main stair of a diaolou was an essential element of the building.

16Classical keystone and column capital were popular back then.

17Splendid balcony of a diaolou.

18Local villager drying hey.

19We encountered a lot more villagers in Majianlong than in Zili.

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All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou

1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China


DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China

Thanks to a number of local movies such as “Let the Bullets Fly” (讓子彈飛) that took its diaolou (碉樓) as film set, Zili (自力村) has become the most well known village in Kaiping.  The diaolous of Zili have been inscribed in the World Heritage List since 2007.  Since then, tourists, mainly local visitors, came to Zili to experience a bygone era.  We picked Zili as our first village to visit because of its proximity to Chikan and Kaiping.

From Chikan, we bought the Kaiping Diaolou combined ticket and took the tourist shuttle bus to Zili.  Passing through some lily ponds and rice paddies, a boardwalk led us to the entrance plaza of Zili.  The village wasn’t big.  We were told that Zili could be swamped of tourists during public holidays.  It was a Friday afternoon when we were there.  Luckily not too many tourists were around.  Certain part of Zili seemed like an open air museum, in which fifteen diaolous and old villas (廬) survived to this day.  These buildings were constructed in the first half of the 20th century, ranging from 1917 to 1948.  There were a few diaolous that we could actually go inside.  Inside the diaolou, old housewares, furniture and photos were on display.  In every diaolou that we entered, we always climbed up to the roof terrace.  From the roof, we could fully admire the scenery of Zili, where spectacular diaolous mushroomed upon a lush green carpet of rice paddies.  We spent roughly two hours wandering in Zili before catching the last shuttle bus back to Chikan.

01Once entered the village, we arrived at an open square flanked by old brick villas with interesting ornaments typical for traditional rural houses in China.

1bArchitectural ornaments inspired by the West could easily be found in Zili.

02Impressive diaolous greeted our arrival beyond a small lily pond.

03Footpaths were well maintained for tourism.

04Inside a dialou, antique furniture and housewares are on display.  A main staircase leads visitors to various levels at the back side of the building.  On each level, the stairwell opens to a living room, flanked by smaller bedrooms along the sides.

05Old furniture and housewares in one of the study room of a diaolou.

5aA Western style antique chair against the paint motif on a plaster wall.

06Covered terrace on the top floor of a diaolou.

07Columns with Classical order was popular back then, though craftsmanship was usually crude, reflecting that the local contractors responsible for the construction had little knowledge on what they were building.  Some of them actually based their construction on postcards sent by the owner who lived abroad.

08Diaolous and rice paddies viewed from a roof terrace.

09Rich details of carved balustrade is still visible today.

10Some villagers still live in some parts of Zili, leading a simple rural life.

11In some spaces inside a surviving diaolou, paint touch-ups from recent renovations looked unnatural and overdone.

12Interior details like stained glass windows and antique clock belong to an era of East meets West.

13Old floor tiles in a bedroom of a diaolou.

13aInterior details of a diaolou.

14The sun angle get considerably lower by the time we visited our last diaolou of the day.

15Two diaolous leaning toward each other.

16_01The late afternoon sun cast a golden glow to the diaolous, and so as the rice paddies.

 

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All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou

1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China


QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China

Chikan (赤坎) is a historical town in the County of Kaiping.  It is also a convenient hub for visiting the villages of diaolou (碉樓) in the area.  From Kaiping City, we took one of the many local buses to reach Chikan in about half an hour.  Out of the bus window, the well preserved colonnaded buildings or qilou (騎樓) took us by surprise.  The vintage atmosphere of the streets and lanes in Chikan made us imagine that we were going back in time, to the early 20th century.  Streets after streets of qilou buildings, two to three storey high, lined along the main thoroughfare.  Rusty metal doors, broken window panes, darken plaster walls, most of the qilou buildings looked well past their prime.  From the occasional stained glass windows and ornate plaster motifs, Chikan must have seen its splendid moments in the first half of the 20th century.  Despite some were fenced off, on the ground floor of qilou we could still find all sort of local shops serving the remaining population of this historical town.

During our day and a half in Kaiping, we often found ourselves returning to Chikan to switch transportation.  Many local visitors came to Chikan to visit the small but famous movie studio where a number of TV shows and movies were filmed, including Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster.  We did, however, find the streets and lanes flanked by qilou buildings far more interesting and photogenic.  During our first visit, after wandering through its streets and lanes, at the ticket office of Chikan Film Studio we bought a combined ticket that covered some of the most popular villages in the area.  We then hopped on a tourist shuttle bus for Zili Village for our first taste of Kaiping diaolou.

Qilou (騎樓), also known as tong lau (唐樓), was greatly inspired by Western arcade design and traditional Chinese mixed use buildings, exemplifying a hybrid design culture once flourished in urban areas of the Guangdong area.  During the 18th and 19th century, Guangzhou was the only port city in China designated for international trading.  European architectural styles flourished in Guangzhou and spread around the province.  Henceforth, qilou architecture emerged with shops on the ground floor and two to three levels of residences atop as the most common style of Lingnan (嶺南) architecture.  Many qilou buildings in Guangzhou and nearby cities didn’t survive to this day, but Chikan still has some of the best preserved streets of continuous qilou buildings found nowhere else in the province.  The Westernized qilou of Chikan reminded us its heyday when about 80% of the town inhabitants had connections with the Western world.  They either studied or worked abroad during the turning of the 20th century when emigration was common in this part of China.

01There are a number of local buses connecting Kaiping City with the Town of Chikan.

02There are many villages with diaolou and rice paddy fields along the way between Kaiping and Chikan.

01The first sight of the well preserved qilou of Chikan was really impressive.  Like Hong Kong and Taiwan, many shop signage were written in traditional Chinese, suggesting their long history that predated the Communist takeover in 1949.

03Many qilou arcades in Chikan are continuous and hardly changed a bit since early 20th century.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApart from the ground floor arcade, continuous balconies were also common in Chikan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVendors were selling dried tangerine skins (陳皮) from Xinhui (新會), fresh eggs and dried fish along the lanes of Chikan.

06The library of the surname Kwan (Guan) was one of the two well known old libraries in town.

8The splendid but abandoned buildings in the town centre revealed Chikan’s affluent past.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the morning, the street market was already quite busy.

10Some qilou arcades were used as semi-outdoor eateries.

11Traces of paint and architectural ornaments were still visible.

11bThe colonnaded arcades could be seen as a communal semi-outdoor space.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhotogenic qilou arcade in morning sun.

12aThe scale of the qilou buildings is quite pedestrian friendly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe entire downtown of Chikan is like a movie backdrop.

14The continuous qilou is also a perfect backdrop for photography.

16Many of the back lanes were tranquil and peaceful in the morning.

17Quite a number of abandoned buildings could be found in the back lanes.

18Just a block away from the riverfront tourist area, pedestrians were scarce in the back lanes.

19The riverside qilou is picturesque where most visitors take their postcard-like shoot of Chikan.

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All posts on 2015 Kaping and Guangzhou

1) TWO EPOCHS OF EAST MEET WEST: Kaiping (開平) and Guangzhou (廣州), China
2) QILOU (騎樓) BUILDINGS OF CHIKAN (赤坎鎮), Kaiping, China
3) DIAOLOU (碉樓) OF ZILI (自力村) VILLAGE, Kaiping (開平), China
4) VILLAGE OF MAJIANLONG (馬降龍村), Kaiping, China
5) JINJIANGLI (錦江里村) VILLAGE, Kaiping, China
6) ZHUJIANG NEW TOWN (珠江新城) AT NIGHT, Guangzhou, China
7) SHAMEEN ISLAND (沙面島), Guangzhou (廣州), China
8) CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE, Guangzhou, China