International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology


China Night Research Seminar Series 2018-19: November 2018

Who Designed for the Emperors?  Yangshi Lei (樣式雷) as Architects to Qing Court

Speaker: Dr Beijie HE (Tianjin University)

Dr He China Night on Yangshilei

Was Chinese ancient architecture created by “architects” in the modern sense of the word, based on professional and inventive “design”, or was it simply constructed by anonymous craftsmen based on mere experience? This talk argues that it is possible to speak of “architects” and “design” in the imperial Chinese context. It focuses on the Qing Dynasty Yangshi Lei family and its architectural drawings, illustrating how the Leis were employed by the Qing court as the Zhang’an (掌案, Chief Architect) of the Yangshi Office (樣式房, Architectural Style Office) to take charge of imperial architecture design for more than 200 years, from the Kangxi reign to the end of Qing Dynasty (1686-1914), and how they played an important role in a variety of building activities, including site selection, urban planning, architecture design, construction and supervising, which reveals the existence and the essential features of the profession of architecture named Yangzi Jiang (樣子匠) in Qing Dynasty.

Trained as an architect, Dr. HE Beijie is now a lecturer in architectural history at the School of Architecture, Tianjin University. She specialises in Chinese architectural history from the 16th to 20th centuries. Drawing on original archive sources, especially the architects' drawings and manuscript of the 18-19th Century called "Yangshi Lei Archives”, her research concentrates on how imperial buildings were designed, constructed, understood and used by the Qing court. She is currently academic visiting in the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge.  

Date: 18:10 Wednesday 11 November 2018

Venue: Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY

This talk will be delivered in English, all Welcome.