Theses Master's

Unfolding Layered Cultures: Preservation of German Colonial Architecture in Qingdao, China, 1897-1914

Wu, You

Colonial architecture, as a concrete representation of both the local culture and invading culture, has its unique values to both colonists and the colonized. Along with the colonized history in China, which started from around 1553, Qingdao is a typical colony that can reflect well the combination and conflicts between local culture and invading culture. In addition, as a colony owned by two different colonial powers successively, it was influenced by multiple cultures, and which is also reflected in colonial architecture there. This thesis seeks to unfold the layered culture of German colonial architecture built from 1897 to 1914 to examine changes under different governments’ control. By analyzing changes in German colonial architecture, it is possible to recognize people’s attitudes toward colonial architecture and how the government at the time influenced people’s thoughts when facing the same thing. In this sense, it can help to determine how to evaluate different historical layers and define significance for the preservation of colonial architecture in China.

Starting from the Ming dynasty (1369-1644), many parts of China became colonies of Western countries. By 1897, Germany had become one of the significant competitive nations of the worldwide industrial revolution. Unlike Britain or France, however, Germany was a latecomer to establishing a stronghold in East Asia. After compelling the Jiaozhou Bay concession from the Qing Dynasty, imperial Germany transformed Qingdao, a former fishing village, into a relatively big city with seaport and military facilities. Germany planned the city for long-term occupation; thus, infrastructure and public buildings were designed based on architectural styles and technologies of the time. However, the Germans stayed in Qingdao for just seventeen years, being displaced by the Japanese after 1914. From 1891 to 1949, Qingdao had in total experienced seven significant historical periods, which are the Qing dynasty, Germany, the First time of Japanese rule, Beiyang, the Nanjing Nationalist, the Second time of Japanese rule, and the Nationalist.

Overall, the development of Qingdao reflects different characteristics under each different government’s control. By unfolding the layered cultures in German colonial architecture in Qingdao one can help define preservation and renovation of colonial architecture in China in the future.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Freeman, Monty
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 7, 2020