Title: Les tribulations d'un architecte belge en Chine: Gustave Volckaert, au service du Crédit Foncier d'Extrême-Orient, 1914-1954
Authors: Coomans, Thomas ×
Lau, Leung-kwok Prudence #
Issue Date: 2012
Series Title: Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Oudheidkunde en Kunstgeschiedenis vol:81 pages:129-153
Abstract: Thomas COOMANS & Leung-kwok Prudence LAU, "The tribulations of a Belgian architect in China: Gustave Volckaert, in service of the Crédit Foncier d’Extrême-Orient, 1914-1954".
Belgian companies made large investments and developed important businesses in China during the first half of the 20th century. Several architects were employed by these companies and made a career in the Far-East. Contrary to the architects working in Belgian Congo, the Belgian architects in China remain largely unknown. This article follows one of them, Gustave Volckaert (1888-1978), who worked for the Crédit Foncier d’Extrême-Orient (C.F.E.O.), a Belgian-French company specialized in mortgage-loan, real-estate, and all activities related to construction business in the main treaty ports of China. Volckaert worked in Tianjin and Beijing from 1914 to 1922, in Tianjin from 1934 to 1946 and in Hong Kong from 1947 to 1954. His work includes houses, offices, educational buildings, churches and convents for both Western and Chinese clients. The article pays attention to Volckaert’s professional relationships and reveals a fascinating network of influent Catholic people including the Ghent contractor René Van Herrewege, the Chinese diplomat Lou Tsien-Tsiang, the missionary-architect Alphonse De Moerloose, the Jesuit naturalist Émile Licent, the expert in reinforced-concrete professor Gustave Magnel, several directors of the C.F.E.O., and major missionary orders (Jesuits, Lazarists, Paris Foreign Missions, Maryknoll Sisters, etc.). Although Volckaert was not at the front line of innovation, he was a conscientious architect, a good technician and fully devoted to his company. His career spans four decades during which the Chinese society opened up to modernity, especially in semi-colonial cities like Tianjin and in the British colony of Hong Kong. Architecture, one of the most visible expressions of modernity, evolved from classic and historic styles to art deco and modernist buildings with concrete structures, modern comfort and technologies. This article therefore examines Volckaert’s works under the evolution of modern architecture in China.
ISSN: 0035-077X
VABB publication type: VABB-1
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Research Group Architectural History and Conservation (-)
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

Files in This Item:
File Description Status SizeFormat
2012-RBAHA, Coomans-Lau, Gustave Volckaert.pdf Published 648KbAdobe PDFView/Open


All items in Lirias are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved.