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001 Li, the Neighbourhood Unit in Canton Prefecture during the Ming and Qing DynastiesAbstract: During the Ming and Qing dynasties, li was widely used as the name for the neighbourhood unit in Canton Prefecture. Many of these neighbourhoods are now considered official heritage sites at different levels. In contrast to the lilong and lifen (i.e., lanes and alleys, respectively) with Western decorative elements that appeared in Shanghai and other cities since the 1870s, li in Canton Prefecture was treated more as a kind of traditional neighbourhood unit. Taking three representative cases, Donghuali walking street in Foshan Town, Nanhai County, Seventeen Neighbourhoods (Yiju-sanfang-shisanli) in Shawan Village, Panyu County and Huagaili in Daliang Town, Shunde County, this study discusses the typology, characteristics and spatial organisation mechanisms of li in the hierarchical system of Canton Prefecture during the Ming and Qing dynasties through a typo-morphological study. Furthermore, the relevance of li in the lijia system (a community self-monitoring system) was explored through an analysis of the relationship between cadastre and household registration. The results show no direct correlation between the naming of li and the lijia system. Rather, the li was gradually developed from the term indicating the neighbourhood units into the name of lanes and alleys in these neighbourhoods.

Keywords: li, neighbourhood unit, Canton Prefecture, morphological structure, cadastral model, lijia system
Feng Jiang, Xie Zhonghui, Huang Lidan
012 Classification and Characteristics of Vernacular Architecture Pedigree in the Cantonese Dialect AreaAbstract: This paper reviews the existing studies on vernacular architecture in the Cantonese dialect area, analysing the relationships between vernacular architectural pedigrees in the Cantonese dialect area and surrounding areas as well as their international influences. Using the classification of dialect sub-areas as a reference and combining related factors, such as cultural geography, historical administrative boundaries and basic architectural characteristics, the vernacular architecture of the Cantonese dialect area was divided into four architectural sub-areas: Guangfu (Khanfu), Siyi (Sze-yap), Gaoyang–Wuhua–Qinlian and Yongxun–Goulou. This study analyses each sub-area using five basic characteristics: settlement morphology, courtyard forms, structural typology, decoration techniques and construction taboos. In general, the distribution of vernacular architectural pedigree shows that the Hakka tend to occupy mountainous areas, the Cantonese spread along rivers, while the Min live along the coastline. Under the combined influence of these three groups, the vernacular settlements and buildings in the Cantonese dialect area show distinctive forms with abundant variations.

Keywords: Cantonese dialect area; vernacular architectural pedigree; settlements; buildings; basic characteristics; classification
Xu Yue, Lin Guojing
024 Location Preferences and Landscape Patterns of Traditional Han Settlements in Guangdong Province from the Perspective of Environmental SelectionAbstract: During the process of human migration, immigrants choose a new environment that is as similar as possible to their native environment but also providing a greater chance of survival. This article describes the migration and formation history of the three Han sub-ethnic groups in Guangdong. The Guangfu sub-ethnic group migrated along the water, the Chaoshan subgroup migrated along the coast and the Hakkas migrated through the mountains. A quantitative and statistical analysis is then presented of the site selection and landscape patterns of the settlements of these three subgroups, using measures such as remote sensing information extraction and GIS data analysis. Different site selection preferences form different settlement landscape patterns, from the macroscale distribution characteristics, scales and densities of settlements, to the mesoscale settlement land patterns, farmland textures and settlement layout modes, and the microscale architectural forms and styles, decorations and materials, etc. The differences in landscape patterns and ecological wisdom of the traditional settlements of Han subgroups in Guangdong are analysed from these three perspectives. The findings provide a theoretical basis for the future protection of and research into traditional settlements.

Keywords: environmental selection, traditional settlements of Han sub-ethnic groups, settlement distribution, settlement landscape pattern, Guangdong region
Pan Ying, Duan Jiahui, Shi Ying
032 Construction Techniques of Vernacular Architecture in Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province: A Preliminary StudyAbstract: This article synthesises factors in geography, dialects, sub-ethnic groups, and administrative divisions in Zhongshan City and infers the likely existence of divisions of different cultures and their respective methods of construction. Through on-site surveys and investigations of selected samples and comparisons with construction methods described by craftsmen, it identifies three prototypes of traditional houses in the city—two-walls-one-room, three-walls-two-rooms, and four-walls-three-rooms—as well as eight derivatives of these three prototypes. In addition, construction terms described by craftsmen are classified, and construction techniques, such as standard rulers, scale control, masonry, tiling, and joinery work, are analysed. Moreover, construction customs, such as the heights of buildings, taboos on the axis of buildings, the space for ancestral worship, and taboos on numbers, are reorganised and summarised. As a result of these investigations and analyses, typical types of vernacular dwellings and their distribution in Zhongshan are clarified, and an attempt is made to form a basic framework of constructional technologies, customs and taboos in the area. The findings from this research offer a reference for the protection and restoration of traditional architecture as well as for future studies of ancestral halls and diaolous (blockhouses) of Zhongshan.

Liu Junrui, Wang Bin, Mo Lisheng
Keywords: traditional dwelling in Zhongshan; construction term; type; construction technique; construction convention
Theory and History
043 Reflections Arising from a Study of Folk Houses in the Canton AreaAbstract: Since the 1980s, research into Chinese traditional folk houses has seen the expansion of ancient Chinese architectural history from official building research to vernacular architecture research, embodying a kind of academic evolution from the centre to the margins. This article points out that the zoning of traditional Chinese folk houses, which draws on the method of dialect geography, features a research process that has developed from studies of the centre to those of the edge. Taking the study of folk houses in the Canton area as an example, the article uses two local historical documents on house forms to reflect on research methods, arguing for a kind of local knowledge that is closer to historical subjectivity. Through an analysis of a series of topics mentioned in the two documents, such as unit and entity, form and concept, details and materials, and Canton and South China, the article points out the limitations of the existing theoretical discourse, proposing a more flexible, open-ended approach based on specific research problems.

Keywords: folk house; dialect; Canton; locality; house form
Xiao Min
050 Passion for Tong Lau: Research and Adaptive Reuse Designs of the Dwelling Blocks in Early 20th Century Hong KongAbstract: In the late 19th century, the mass influx of peoples from Lingnan immigrated to Hong Kong and built dwellings of Lingnan characters, which soon evolved into dense and poor living environment under immense population and economic pressure. The outburst of bubonic plague in the dense Chinese labourers’ district in 1984 prompted the Hong Kong government to enact the first modern Public Health and Buildings Ordinance in 1903 which on the one hand, introduced the then modern concepts of structural fire protection and sanitary building standards from Britain, while on the other hand, these concepts were cleverly integrated with the traditional Chinese construction techniques and living patterns in Lingnan vernacular architecture, evolving into a dwelling architectural form unique to early 20th century Hong Kong, tong lau. Tong lau buildings are considered by both public and professionals of Hong Kong today to be processing heritage values and to be conserved. Using several recent successful cases of tong lau conservation, this study shows how tong lau buildings can be adapted for modern communities and commercial uses through innovative spatial design, meticulous use of materials and adventurous technical upgrades, while still expressing its unique characteristics integrating Chinese and Western of vernacular architectural aspects. It argues that the focus for the conservation of tong lau buildings should not be the mere restoration of their visual features, but the representation of their design concepts and notions of modernisation of Lingnan vernacular architectures in early 20th century.

Keywords: Hong Kong; tong lau; adaptive reuse; Lingnan vernacular architecture; Chinese–Western integration; modern structural and sanitary building standards
Leung Yee-Wah Edward, Cheng Hung
059 The Fragrance of Grass Overruns the Ancient Road and Its Greenness Invades Desolate Towns: Heritage Values, Conservation and Re-use of the Xijing Ancient Postal RoadAbstract: An ancient road to the Western Capital, as Xi’an was once known, the Xijing Ancient Postal Road used to be the main road connecting the Central Plains with the Lingnan area south of the Five Ridges. A section of the Xijing Ancient Postal Road still exists in Ruyuan County in Shaoguan City, Guangdong Province and has been listed as a provisional-level cultural heritage protection area. The history of the ancient road and the composition of its cultural heritage sites, such as pavilions, stone bridges and steps, steles and related conventions, are briefly reviewed to indicate the natural, historical and cultural values of this linear heritage site. Furthermore, the conservation and re-use of ancient roads should consider their integrity in the mountainous natural environment by adopting the principle of moderation and implementing minimum interventions to restore the villagers’ folk custom of ‘repaving roads with stone’. The target of the conservation and re-use is to ensure the routine repair and maintenance of the Xijing Ancient Postal Road and find the balance between conservation and display, and connect the ancient road with modern urban and rural life.

Keywords: Ruyuan County; Xijing Ancient Postal Road; linear heritage; heritage value; conservation; re-use
Cao Jin
065 Xiangzhoubu and Zhongshangang: Conservation of Vernacular Built Heritage Influenced by Historical EventsAbstract: Xiangshan County (alternative spelling, Hsiang-shan) was a pioneering area during China’s opening to the West. Because of its advantageous location adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao, the area experienced two new town experiments during the early 20th century: Xiangzhoubu and Zhongshangang. Xiangzhoubu was supported by the Qing Government and in 1908, the overseas Chinese industrialists Wang Shen and Wu Yuzheng invested in the town. In 1929, Zhongshangang was established in Zhongshan County by a senior Kuomintang statesman, Tang Shaoyi, to continue the work started by the Prime Minister, Sun Yat-sen. Using related historical materials and historical–geographical information as well as architectural remains of these two sites, this study compares these two new trial towns over two decades during China’s declining national fortune and drastic political changes. These changes had different backgrounds, leaders and approaches, yet similar aims, locations and outcomes, and both ended up in failure. Even so, they were valuable explorations of modernisation that were based on the hopes of the future development of the country. Xiangzhoubu is today a modernised downtown district of Zhuhai, while Zhongshangang remains a village, yet their vernacular buildings carry heritage values which are different from other towns due to the historical events.

Keywords: Xiangzhoubu; Zhongshangang; modernisation; vernacular built heritage conservation
Pu Zexuan, Feng Yuchan
Heritage Illustration
072 WARFIELD COLUMN XIV The Cohabitation and Derivation of Architecture: A Re-observation of Shanghai’s Longtangs Liu Gang / Translated by Lui Tam / Proofread by Li Yingchun
Project Analysis
088 Connecting Heritage to Everyday Life: Conservation and Regeneration of Prague’s Letná Water Tower Abstract: This article explores the design process of the conservation and regeneration for the Letná Water Tower in Prague, the Czech Republic. Historical changes to the UNESCO world heritage site, i.e., the historic centre of Prague and its Letná Water Tower, in the past century are described briefly. The conservation and regeneration of the Letná Water Tower, which was completed in 2018, including its space, function and architectural details were analysed in detail. The architect, Petr Hájek’s design concept for the protection and adaptive reuse of this historic building is discussed further, featured with the different strategies adopted in the repair and renovation parts of the water tower and its annexe, retaining the function of a youth centre after the regeneration of the building. The value evaluation, authenticity, reversibility and functional transformations in the conservation design of heritage architecture are also analysed.

Keywords: Prague; Letná Water Tower; regeneration; authenticity; reversibility; Petr Hájek
Pu Yijun
098 Repair and Elements Integration of Cultural Landscape Surrounding a Historic Site: Design of the Sacred Fire Square in XihouduAbstract: After analysing the land and environment surrounding the Sacred Fire Square at Xihoudu Historic Site, the land was considered a part of the cultural landscape around the historic site. The characteristics of this cultural landscape include three aspects: (1) archaeological sites and valuable archaeological strata, which determine the land-use function of the project site; (2) the loess hilly landform; and (3) other related landscape elements. Under this condition, the major design strategies are the repair and elements integration of cultural landscape. Design concepts for each part of the Sacred Fire Square were discussed, and the successful repair of the cultural landscape was found in response to the surrounding natural scale from the human scale of the square design, while the elements integration of surrounding landscape shapes the project’s characteristics in the location.

Keywords: Xihoudu Historic Site; Sacred Fire Square; cultural landscape; repair; elements integration
Liu Diyu
108 Heritage of the Vault: Rethinking Kimbell Art Museum through Structural AnalysisAbstract: In an analysis of the structure of Kimbell Art Museum, this article rethinks the strategy of interpreting the building as a classic example of Louis I. Kahn’s works by combining the clues in the design of structure and form, building plans and spaces. Research and thinking about architectural heritage is currently returning to the design process instead of only unfolding from perceptual cognitions and the interpretation of design clues. Kimbell Art Museum became one of Kahn’s most representative works and a classic of modern architecture because Kahn integrated various architectural elements and balanced the opinions of multiple participants in this project. As the principal architect of this project, Kahn was able to maintain his original concept all the way through the design process.

Keywords: Louis I. Kahn; Kimbell Art Museum; vault; cylindrical shell
Yuan Ye, Zhang Ziyue
116 ‘Historic’ versus ‘in History’: Reflections on the Regeneration and Conservation Plan of the En’ning Road Historic District in GuangzhouAbstract: This paper focuses on the different stages of the renovation of the En’ning Road historic district in Guangzhou, giving a preliminary analysis and offering references for the appropriate conservation interventions in the follow-up second phase of the renovation plan. First, the paper provides a retrospective of the history of this historic district, the compilation of its preservation plan and the regeneration plan of Yongqingfang Community. Second, it points out the problems in the first phase of the En’ning Road renovation and the potential difficulties faced in the second phase. Third, international conservation principles, such as the Valletta Principles, and the theoretical discourses related to the treatment of the large number of vernacular buildings are reviewed to provided inspiration for the second phase of the En’ning Road renovation. The paper concludes with the correlations and contradictions in the conservation of ‘historic’ heritage and the requirements of people ‘in history’. It argues for a strategic balance between conservation and development by complying with and stimulating the moral standards of the local community, which can truly realise sustainable intervention.

Keywords: historic district; En’ning Road; Valletta Principles; historic; in history
Pan Yue
124 Cultural Heritage Examination and (Re)-evaluation Mechanism in Guangzhou: Practice and ReflectionAbstract: Since 2013, the Guangzhou Municipal Government has been pushing a mechanism for built heritage examination and (re)evaluation, commonly referred to as wenping (Cultural Heritage Examination & (Re)-evaluation, or CHEE), at the first stage of urban development programmes. The intention is for CHEE to function as a revisionary and compensatory mechanism for existing conservation plans for the National Historical and Cultural City of Guangzhou. By analysing typical cases, this article tries to trace the origin of the mechanism in Guangzhou, rethinking its contents, social attitudes and system construction according to the criteria of the relationship between heritage conservation and sustainable development. It concludes that the mechanism could exploit its advantages as a regulatory mechanism to the full only when it can be constantly improved. Since the Heritage Impact Assessment is becoming increasingly popular as a heritage conservation tool, its dynamic, interactive and involved approach to cultural heritage management may improve the CHEE mechanism in the near future.

Keywords: Cultural Heritage Examination & (Re)-evaluation; Guangzhou; historic environment; conservation mechanism; Heritage Impact Assessment
Yang Wenjun, Wu Jianchi
131 News in Brief  


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Cantonese is also known as Guangdong dialect; however, many areas in Guangdong Province do not speak Cantonese, and the areas where people do speak Cantonese are far beyond Guangdong Province. This geographic clue plays a key role in the transmission of the language. Compared with Hakka speakers living in mountainous areas and Teochew-dialect speakers living along the coastline, Cantonese speakers in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces are mainly distributed along rivers. Thus, people living at the junction areas of rivers, mountains and the sea are often bilingual. In ancient times, South China (Lingnan) was a borderland far away from the political centre of China, while in early modern times it became the front of international communications. The Cantonese-dialect area thereafter was transformed from the frontier to the forefront of China. The delicate relationship between the world, state, and local levels shapes the society, technology and cultures of this area. As the carrier of Cantonese culture bred by the Pearl River, the Cantonese language has spread down from the river to the sea and travelled across the oceans to become a language spoken by about 120 million people worldwide.


Like Cantonese integrates yayan (ancient official language) of central China, ancient Baiyue dialects and some borrowed words, the architecture of the Cantonese-dialect area is influenced by cultures from different regions. Many vernacular buildings preserved to date not only embody regional adaptability, but also retain some ancient architectural types from the north because of the governance and immigration during the Chinese dynasties. Impacts from India, southeast Asia, Arabia, Europe and North America have also left traces on the vernacular architecture. This complex bilingualism (e.g., official–folk, native–exotic, local–international, traditional–modern), and even multilingual integrations and mutual learning have emerged in the architectural styles. The various architectural sources differ from each other in morphology and technology, but permeate and cooperate with each other simultaneously.


Architecture is influenced by geography, language and society, and contributes to the constructions of landscapes, languages and societies. Folk clans have been highly developed in Guangdong Province since the Ming Dynasty. Lineage villages with core families as the basic unit and ancestral halls dominating the morphological structure of the villages have spread across the countryside. Cantonese people believe in witches and ghosts; their local beliefs are so developed that ancestral halls and temples for gods and Buddhist icons can be found everywhere. Because of the highly developed rural social organisations and their cultural inheritance, most of the villages here are in regular forms with high density. Strong isomorphic characteristics can be observed between vernacular architecture and settlements in the Cantonese- dialect area.


The study of vernacular architecture and built heritage in the Cantonese-dialect area is a significant academic field in architectural history. The research and writings of scholars, such as Long Qingzhong (Feiliao), Lu Yuanding and Wu Qingzhou, have formed strong academic traditions from the perspectives of regional architecture, sub-ethnic groups, cultures, etc. A historical-anthropological study of South China also provides an important inspiration for the reflection of today’s architectural historiography. The articles in this special column are new reflections and explorations based on the earlier foundation. Moreover, the practice of heritage preservation in Cantonese-dialect areas has aroused great concerns and controversies in recent years. This column also invites the discussion of conservation cases and heritage management policies to establish synchronous concerns for both historical research and practice in the built heritage of China.