The Commercial Street as “Frozen” Festival: A Study in Chinese Mercantile Traditions

Yun Gao, Nicholas Temple, Yan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Amidst the skyscrapers of many contemporary Chinese cities, commercial streets have emerged in traditional Chinese styles that serve as places to host festive celebrations and to satisfy everyday leisure and commercial needs. Buildings along these streets operate at one level as ritual “encasements” that frame the festival processions, and thereby “speak” of ceremonial meanings. These framing devices constitute material remnants of past festival events, periodically re-activated as public spectacles or during momentary episodes of individual/collective recollection. This study explores themes relating to these intersections between building and festive occasion through an examination of two traditionally designed commercial streets in China. It argues that architecture in these two cases presents in different ways a “foregrounding” of festivals, in which participants are reminded of previous events. Architectural elements and their details serve as substitutes for words, re-capitulating the verbal and gestural meanings of festivals through design language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-421
Number of pages11
JournalArchitecture and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2018

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  • Activities

    • 2 Invited talk
    • 1 Membership of a Society or Institute

    The Temporality of Building

    Yun Gao (Speaker) & Nicholas Temple (Speaker)

    20 Feb 2019

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Chinese and European Perspective on Architecture and Heritage

    Yun Gao (Speaker) & Nicholas Temple (Speaker)

    21 Nov 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Academy of Urbanism (External organisation)

    Nicholas Temple (Member)


    Activity: Membership typesMembership of a Society or Institute

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