Cecilia L Chu Author of Evaluating Organization Development
FEATURED AUTHOR

Cecilia L Chu

Associate Professor
Division of Landscape Architecture, University of Hong Kong

Cecilia L Chu is an Associate Professor in the Division of Landscape Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. Trained as an urban historian with a background in design and conservation, her works focus on the social and cultural processes that shape the forms and meanings of built environments and their impacts on local communities. She is a co-founder of Docomomo Hong Kong and an editorial board member of Journal of Urban History and Journal of Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong.

Biography

Cecilia L. Chu is Associate Professor in the Division of Landscape Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. Trained as an urban historian with a background in design and conservation, Chu’s research and teaching focus on the social and cultural processes that shape the forms and meanings of built environments and their impacts on local communities, particularly in Asia. Informing her work is an interest in the design and representation of spaces (as buildings, landscapes, and infrastructures) and the production of their social meanings and values. She is especially interested in the intersection of professional and popular knowledge of architecture and landscapes and how these articulations have contributed to city-making and the shaping of collective aspirations of citizens.

Chu’s first book, Building Colonial Hong Kong: Speculative Development and Segregation in the City (Planning, History and Environment Series, Routledge, 2022), traces a spatial history of Hong Kong through the lens of speculative housing practices. Her edited book, The Speculative City: Emergent Forms and Norms of the Built Environment (University of Toronto Press, 2022), explores the spatial and material processes of speculative urbanization in cities around the world. Her current research projects include an investigation of the cultural history of modern parks and recreational landscapes in China, as well as a comparative study of conservation practices in Asia that have given rise to new interpretations of colonial heritage and histories.

Chu is a co-founder and current president the Hong Kong chapter of Docomomo (International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites, and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement), an international organization with a mission to promote public knowledge of modern architecture, landscapes and urbanism. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE), a scholarly association concerned with the study of vernacular and popular built environments across the world. She is an editorial board member of Journal of Urban History, Journal for the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong, and the ArchAsia series of Hong Kong University Press.

Education

    PhD in Architecture, UC Berkeley

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Histories of architecture and urbanism, urban studies, critical Heritage studies, cultural landscapes, colonial urbanism

Websites

Books

Featured Title
 Featured Title - Building Colonial Hong Kong_Chu - 1st Edition book cover

Articles

Routledge Companion to Contemporary Architectural History

The Afterlives of Modern Housing


Published: May 12, 2022 by Routledge Companion to Contemporary Architectural History
Authors: Cecilia L Chu
Subjects: Built Environment, Environment and Sustainability, Urban Planning, Urban Studies

This paper discusses the 'afterlives' of three modern social housing projects that have all been converted into market-rate housing in recent years and in each case diverted away from the original social purposes for which they were first built. By examining their changing design intentions, the paper aims to prompt reflections on the presumed linkages between the social and aesthetic ideals of architectural modernism and the ethical positions of architects in the 21st century.

Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review

Tianyuan Dushi (田園都市): Garden City, Urban Planning, and Visions of Modernization in Early 20th Century China


Published: Nov 01, 2019 by Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review
Authors: Cecilia L Chu, Zhiyong Liang
Subjects: Built Environment, History, Area Studies, Asian Studies, Urban Planning, Urban Studies

This article examines how the garden city idea was introduced to China in the early 20th century and subsequently promoted by intellectuals and urban administrators as a means to promote urban improvement, economic development, and nation-building. It illustrates how the adaptation of a foreign planning concept interacted with existing discourses about the city, the countryside, and the roles of the state and citizens in constructing competing visions of the future.

Architectural Theory Review

‘Placing ‘Asia’ against the ‘West’: Occidentalism and the Production of Architectural Images in Shanghai and Hong Kong


Published: Dec 31, 2018 by Architectural Theory Review
Authors: Cecilia L Chu
Subjects: Built Environment, Geography , History, Asian Studies, Urban Studies, Art & Visual Culture

The paper explores the idea of architecture and Occidentalism in the writings of building journals and illustrated magazines in the early twentieth century. More specifically, it examines how images of architecture, buildings and landscapes of the “West” and the “non-West” were used as key tropes to construct particular imaginaries and moral claims at a specific time and space: republican Shanghai and colonial Hong Kong from the mid-1920s to the late 1930s.

Journal of Architecture

Constructing a New Domestic Discourse: The Modern Home in Architectural Journals and Mass Market Texts in Early 20th Century China


Published: Sep 01, 2017 by Journal of Architecture
Authors: Cecilia L Chu
Subjects: Built Environment, History, Area Studies, Asian Studies, Urban Studies, Art & Visual Culture

This paper explores how changing ideals of the modern home were articulated in China’s architectural journals and mass-market texts in the 1920s and 1930s, a period in which many Chinese cities experienced increasing housing shortages for the working poor along with changing expectations of ‘contemporary’ dwellings for middle-income urbanites. It deciphers how the design of domestic spaces became a subject of intellectual and political concern for architects and cultural intermediaries.

Geoforum

Spectacular Macau: Visioning Futures for A World Heritage City


Published: Oct 31, 2015 by Geoforum
Authors: Cecilia L Chu
Subjects: Anthropology - Soc Sci, Area Studies, Asian Studies, Environment and Sustainability, Urban Planning, Urban Studies, Art & Visual Culture

This paper examines the conflicting sentiments generated by Macau’s recent developments and how these dynamics have helped galvanize particular visions amongst Macau’s residents. It explores these processes through the simultaneous construction of two incongruent landscapes: a fantasyland of gaming and leisure propelled by the liberalization of the casino industry, and a ‘historic city of culture’ exemplified by Macau’s newly acquired UNESCO World Heritage City status.

Journal of Historical Geography

Shanzheng (善政) and Gongde (公德): Moral Regulation and Narratives of ‘Good Government’ in Colonial Hong Kong


Published: Oct 31, 2013 by Journal of Historical Geography
Authors: Cecilia L Chu
Subjects: Built Environment, Geography , History, Asian Studies, Urban Studies

This paper addresses the concepts of moral regulation and colonial governmentality by examining the different processes through which British officials and Chinese citizens constructed narratives of “good government” in early 20th century Hong Kong. The exploration focuses on two case studies concerning the improvement of public health in the City of Victoria amidst growing threats of epidemic outbreaks between 1900 to 1908.

Urban Studies

People Power as Exception: Three Controversies Over Privatization in Posthandover Hong Kong.


Published: Feb 23, 2010 by Urban Studies
Authors: Cecilia L Chu
Subjects: Built Environment, Anthropology - Soc Sci, Asian Studies, Urban Planning, Urban Studies

This paper examines three controversies that revolve around the Hong Kong government’s efforts to privatise components of its property assets in the years following the Asian financial crisis in 1997. By examining the narratives of different actors, the paper elucidates the contradictions and mutual entanglements between the ideology of neo-liberalism and everyday discourse and how the contestation in each case worked to reshape and ultimately preserve the existing regime of legitimation.

Photos

Videos

Webinar: Infrastructure Imagination: Charting Hong Kong's Future

Published: May 21, 2021

Webinar for Hong Kong Studies Initiative, University of British Columbia. In this talk, Cecilia Chu and Dorothy Tang discussed their curatorial work on a public exhibition that showcased a collection of construction photographs by a British photographer, Heather Coulson, who was commissioned to document a number of major infrastructure projects completed in Hong Kong between 1972 and 1988, a period that has sometimes been referred to as Hong Kong's "golden age of construction."