Bartlett Research Conversations: Yichuan Chen
31 January 2023, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm
PhD candidate Yichuan Chen discusses his research into how the dissemination of concrete in mainly rural areas brought about profound technological, ecological and cultural changes in 20th century China that, in the 21st century, have planetary consequences.
This event is free.
The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
Room G.1222 Gordon StreetLondonWC1H 0AJUnited Kingdom
Constructing Chinese Modernity: A History of Concrete in China, 1880-1990
Speaker: Yichuan Chen
Supervisors: Prof. Edward Denison and Prof. Oliver Wilton
Guest panellist: Prof. Michael Stacey from The Bartlett School of Architecture
Over half of the world’s cement is now produced and consumed in China, yet conspicuously little research exists on how cement and concrete became so vital to Chinese modernity. This study seeks to fill this gap by interrogating the extraordinary trajectory of concrete in China. China’s cement and concrete industries expanded rapidly during the urban construction boom in the 1920s-1930s, but 60% of the country's cement was produced and used in rural areas by 1977. In addition, the roles of environmental and ecological crises, such as the depletion of wood, in the dissemination of concrete in China has also largely escaped scholarly attention. Focusing on diverse structures such as bridges, water control facilities, rural dwellings and concrete boats, this study explores how the dissemination of concrete in mainly rural areas brought about profound technological, ecological and cultural changes the 20th century China that, in the 21st century, have planetary consequences.
About The Bartlett Research Conversations
The Bartlett School of Architecture’s Research Conversations seminars comprise work-in-progress and upgrade presentations by students undertaking the Architectural Design MPhil/PhD and Architectural and Urban History and Theory MPhil/PhD. All current UCL staff and students are welcome to attend.
Held regularly throughout the academic year, the seminars are attended by the Programme Directors, Professor Sophia Psarra, Dr Nina Vollenbröker and Professor Nat Chard; PhD Coordinators, Dr Stamatis Zografos and Dr Stelios Giamarelos; and other PhD supervisors.
Image: Chishan Sluice completed in 1936 in Jurong County, Jiangsu Province (credit: Yichuan Chen)