In this semester, I went to Lo Pan Temple in Sai Wan. It is the only temple in Hong Kong dedicated to Lo Pan, or we called Master Lu Ban. Lo Pan was an ancient woodworker, engineer, savant, innovator, politician, lived during the Spring & Autumn period of China. On account of his extraordinary commitment to development, he was characterized as the patron saint of Chinese manufacturers and construction workers. Many inventions of him are beneficial to modern, such as cloud ladder, ruler, saw, etc.
In 1884, Lo Pan Temple was funded and built by a group of thousands of construction workers. Kwong Yuet Tong started monitoring Lo Pan Temple in 1921 and registered as an administrative organization legally in 1949. The temple had been renovated for a few times, and it was rebuilt in 1928 as well. Finally, the temple was confirmed monument as Grade I historic building in 2009.
Lo Pan Temple is a two-Jin building. The roof is made of wood and covered with tiles. Although the temple is not huge, it is rich in architectural decoration, including murals, pottery, and clay sculptures. There are nine groups of pottery and twenty-six murals in total, and these make the temple look like an art exhibition. In the temple, I could see that there are four deities, Lo Pan, Yuet Lo, Choi Sun and To Dei Kung. The good faith of coming to visit is mainly engaged in the construction industry. In my point of view, maybe they are not only praying for Lo Pan to bless and bless the work, but also pray for blessing form Yuet Lo about love and Choi Sun about wealth.
By reading some related materials, I found that there is a significant difference between an ordinary day and event day. There were not many visitors on the day I visited, as visitors coming to the temple are mainly engaged in the construction industry and pray for safety at work. The temple will be full of excitement on 13th Lunar June every year (Lo Pan Patron’s Day). There is a Taoist ceremony lasting for one and a half day to appease spirits of those passed away from construction industry’s accidents. Then, there are many apprentices and mentors of the Construction Industry Council Training Academy visit and offer incense in the temple. After that, The Labour and Welfare Bureau will hold a prize presentation ceremony of the Skills Upgrading Lo Pan Award, to praise workers who have Lo Pan’s spirit. Finally, there is a lion and dragon dance troupes performance to entertain both human and god. In the past, there was cooked rice distributed; now, meal coupons have replaced cooked rice.
In traditional Chinese culture, wood with a meaning of endless life. Therefore, there have been more than 7,000 years of wooden construction systems. No matter it is a magnificent palace, a beautiful garden, or an ordinary dwelling, the wooden structure takes the leading position. China's traditional wooden construction plays an essential role in the history of world architecture. The roof of Chinese architecture is the most eye-catching, and it is almost a signature of traditional Chinese building. The building enclosures also reflect the ancient craftsman's intentions everywhere. These complex and ingenious structural components constitute the traditional architectural form of China for hundreds of century. The wisdom of the ancients to create such a great art form deserve people to admire. However, these great arts are being abandoned by urbanites ruthlessly. The increasing of the modern high-rise building has gradually faded into unique Chinese villages.
It is crucial to figure out what lead to declining Chinese traditional architectures. First, the design level and skill of architectural design workers are disparate, leading to “good and bad” architectural works. Second, the abuse of administrative power by relevant government departments has led to chaotic management of the planning and design market. Third, in recent years, European-style real estate has developed rapidly, and Western architectural culture dominates the Chinese architectural environment. Fourth, globalization impact, the standards of aesthetics and evaluation of architecture in all walks of life gradually converge - Westernization. Fifth, having weak self-confidence on the national culture. Western culture has led to the neglect of Chinese culture by Chinese citizens. In the face of the decline of Chinese traditional culture, the whole city looks the same. How to create a new building with the representative Chinese culture and era in modern Chinese life? How to innovate China's new Building has become a hot spot of concern to society?
The above reasons for declining Chinese traditional buildings may brings some unwanted fates for the Chinese buildings. First, blind plagiarism, lack of innovative spirit. The famous architectural works around the world have appeared in many places in China, and the blind copying has become a great spectacle in the modern Chinese architecture. For example, in Zhengzhou, there is a “French Church in France” built in the 1990s. After the French Le Corbusier Foundation expressed anger and dissatisfaction, the building has been demolished; Zhejiang Tiandu City counterfeit the Eiffel Tower, known as the ghost town by the media. The town style is directly copied from the foreign residential buildings. The Austrian town of Hastat has been named a world cultural heritage because of its unique style, which has become a place that the world yearns for. There is also a cottage version in China, in Huizhou, Guangdong; Thames Town is one of many copycat targets in China, security guard of the fake British town with security clothing is copycat of British royal soldiers. These have resulted many people said that 'China copied everything and did not innovate independently.' There are many other examples of blind worship and reproduction of Western construction arts in China. They are “special” in all corners of China, but not inconsistent with the local regional culture and surrounding environment.
Second, lack of regional characteristics. With the evolution of people living standards, they are not only satisfied with the pursuit of material, but also pay more attention to the pursuit of the spirit. In recent years, the community has gradually realized that the bad development or conservation status of Chinese architecture. The similarities in the development and construction process and the architectural appearance of convergence have made everyone feel the lack of Chinese architectural culture and the lack of architectural features, especially the decline of national culture.
Third, the pursuit of architectural appearance is unconventional. In the context of the ever-converging modern architectural design, some architects are also actively exploring how to innovate in architectural design, and the results are positive and negative. For example, the Taipei 101 Building designed by Mr. Li Zuyuan, the building wall is divided into 8 sections, which are inclined one by one, having the shape of the Chinese pagoda and the growth of bamboo. This building is a good design of modern design, building materials, techniques and Chinese tradition. The building has been combined innovation and inheritance, which is a positive production. However, some architects are paranoid to highlight those special appearance of modern buildings, making controversial. For example, Fu Lu Shou is the prototype of the Tianzi Hotel, with meaning of good fortune, prosperity, and longevity. In order to achieve the objective of the building, a lot of manpower, material resources and financial resources have been invested, resulting in great waste of resources. After the CCTV headquarters building is completed, It is also controversial. The architectural structure is exquisite and the building technology is praised. At the same time, the appearance of the building has been stunned as “big pants”. Chinese-style architecture is not only a 'new and strange' in the appearance of the building, but should be a building that is in line with the Chinese social background and meets the needs of social development and has cultural implications!
Fourth, Westernization is serious and lacks national characteristics. The rise of the industrial revolution has had a tremendous impact on countries around the world. In architecture, modernist architecture has sprung up. With China's reform and opening up, international exchanges have become more frequent, and Chinese architecture has quickly aligned with the world. There are many High-rise buildings and glass curtain walls. It seems that every city is carved out of a mold, and the city's recognizability is greatly reduced. In such a high-tech reinforced concrete building forest, Chinese gradually lost its own style.
A good architectural work should be rich in connotation. Only modern architecture with cultural characteristics can go to the world and be eternal. Then, how should we seek the best combination of tradition and modern, international and regional, standardization and speciality balance and coordination, and create China's own architecture that meets the requirements of the times? First, the architect should improve the design level and professionalism, especially for the study and understanding of traditional culture, integrate the 'tradition' and 'modern', and rationally examine and draw on the rational ideas in Western architectural culture. Second, the relevant departments of the government standardize management and strictly enforce the law to make the planning and design market more healthy and orderly, and provide a good environment for the development of Chinese-style buildings. Third, the building business community has established a correct industry orientation and promoted the commercial architectural style of infiltrating national culture. Fourth, the correct treatment of Western culture and reasonable choices must not be copied blindly. Fifth, the whole people will enhance their national cultural self-confidence and establish a correct aesthetic system and a standard system for judging buildings. In short, the creation of modern architecture with Chinese characteristics requires many efforts. It is not the sole responsibility of the architects. It requires sufficient public participation to provide fertile ground for growth. Only in this way can China’s architecture flow everywhere with “Chinese genes” and let China Buildings can one day go to the world and be loved and learned by the people of the world!