I can Recognize Orders Now

I’m reading Shi Jian’s The Soul of the Land (《大地之灵》) (Chinese book, ISBN 7-80603-252-5). I learnt the three orders or organizational systems of classical western architecture. I am very happy about the new knowledge. Whenever I look at a western style building now, I can quickly recognize the language they use – it’s like a secret code between the architect and me, so I get more information about the building.

I browsed my old photo gallery on my computer. Many buildings in Shanghai borrowed the orders from Greek. I admire the small country who spread its culture to the world.

Photo 1: The transformed Doric Order of the Shanghai Exhibition Center:


© Jian Shuo Wang.

Photo 2: The Ionic order of the Shanghai Concert Hall:


© Jian Shuo Wang. The Shanghai Concert Hall before it was moved to the new location

The Shanghai traditional resident buildings are mixture of both Chinese and western architectural style. I took the picture below on Oct 21, 2004 in the area near Xintiandi. Look at the Ionic orders on the second floor. It is a resident building with traditional Chinese roof and Ionic orders. This should be the last photo of this beautiful house. It was tore down about one month later. It is the typical fate of nice Shanghai traditional houses. When one small apartment of the building on the same land raises to 7000 USD/sq. meter, who can resist the offer to tear them down and build something new? When I was interviewed in New York, I talked about this issue.


© Jian Shuo Wang

The area in Luwan District still remains large areas of such houses. Take of the picture below. I hope after 2 years from now on, they are stil there.


© Jian Shuo Wang. Large area of old houses in Shanghai. Taken from the top of the Corporate Avenue Building

Next time, I will visit the Bund again. I believe it will no longer be the previous Bund I saw.

I will continue to read about the Chinese traditional architecture part and hopefully, be able to read more from the silent houses. Maybe I will visit the Zhuo Zheng Yuan for the third time with the new knowledge.

8 thoughts on “I can Recognize Orders Now

  1. it is something that bothers me, if these traditional houses were to be allowed to stay, who really wants to stay in them? even after massive interior renovation, who really wants to stay in these houses. They lose their economic value and advantage over new high rise buildings. Yes, these are traditional, having a few of them might be historically significant, but evolution does not require the perservation of these buildings. It constrains the thinking, and undermines creativity.

  2. Differently, I think it is the human-being themselves contrain their thinking and creativity. The old houses are not supposed to take the responsibility.

  3. Mr. Wang – if I am not wrong I remember one time you pointed out people of shanghai are in the stage of believing the amount of tall buidlings a place has is related to how modern that place is and you also agreed. That makes me think about that although you feel unfortunate to tear town those old properties maybe thats still reasonable because they do not contribute to the modernization of Shanghai.

  4. I remmember a few years ago, a famous tranditional building in Wuhan, “Exhibition Hall” , has been tore down, and a more modern styled building was built. But most people thought “How stupid the government made such a stupid decision !” I think some old building , like the “Nongtang” and “Shikumen” in shanghai, should be reserved.

    BTW, I don’t know if I am wrong or right, I think the second picture is a typical ionic order but the third picture looks more like Corinthian orders

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