Senado Square Finds Its Siblngs in Guangzhou
So, what exactly is the architecture style/type that both buildings on Senado Square and their siblings in Guangzhou share?
I would propose that it is QILOU(騎樓).
What is Qilou?
Qilou is an excellent illustration of how East meets West through the perspective of architecture.
It is a very common type of architecture since Qing Dynasty in Southern China, especially Lingnan Area. It refers to the building that overhangs the corridor and where people can walk underneath the protruding part. Its origin and first presence in China is still under debate. But ,most experts generally agree that the ones in Guangzhou first appeared in the beginning of the twentieth century. Their style range from Baroque to Southeastern Asian.
It is suggested that the prototype of Qilou was the verandar style architect in ancient Greece over 2000 years ago.However, it did not become prevalent in China until Qing Dynasty set up Thirteen Hongs in Canton. (廣州十三行）. The local people began to imitate the western architects built by foreign merchants. (Some also suggests that Qilou was brought by the British Empire after the first Opium War in 1840). Nevertheless, even the earliest Qilou example brought by the western colonial power in Guangzhou is not purely "western". It is a product of the characteristics of western European buildings and the tropical climate of their southeast Asian colonies. (Colonial Veranda Style). Yet, when the architecture came to Guangzhou, the Cantonese people localized them and Qilou once again underwent the interaction of East and West. Throughout the development of Guangzhou Qilou, overseas Chinese who returned to their ancestral land also helped innovated the forms of Qilou. The continuing addition of layers of east-west combination could be seen in Qilou from different time periods. The inclusion of Cantonese engraving and use of colors and so on also poured in local elements to Qilou. Thus, we cannot say that Cantonese Qilou is purely a colonial product.
Macau Qilou was influenced more directly by the combined force. However,in Senado Square, it is harder to see the local element but a more emphasized Portuguese touch.
Why is Qilou popular in both places?
Regardless of the contested and even mysterious origin of Qilou, one thing is certain: Qilou fits well into the geographical and societal reality of Macau and Guangzhou.
Macau and Guangzhou share similar geographical situation. Both are in subtropic monsoon climate due to their latitude, sea level and location of land and sea. Therefore, it is rather hot and humid during summer time.Summer time rainfall is quite common in such regions. However, the overhanging Qilou shields pedestrians from the sunshine and rainfall. What's more, the first floor of Qilou is usually used as shops. Therefore, with Qilou, people can still walk around and shop in this kind of weather. Qilou helps to maintain the business of the shops.
In addition, the relatively spacious corridor that connects different stores under the roof and away from the traffic is very inviting to consumers. Qilou in Macau and Guangzhou change the verandar in Europe from a private space to a comfortable,welcoming public place. This benefits the small commodity economy prevalent in Macau and Guangzhou in the colonial period, and even now. For example, the restaurants and stores in Senado Square attract numerous tourists through their designs; Shangxiajiu in Guangzhou , the renovated Qilou area, along with the more original Qilou in Yide Lu,is also a very famous pedestrianized shopping area.
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