Fired earth in the built. The Western brick heritage in China: history, technology and conservation.
This project is about how historic techniques, contemporary conservation concepts and sciences fit in with the hybrid heritage fragments in the built of modern China. The globalisation in brick industry has stimulated an epochal shift in modern China. The native Chinese tradition of “blue brick” has been replaced by the exotic Western system of “red brick” since the mid-19th century. Irresistible revolutions happened in both architecture and engineering. The project is situated in this monumental shift which has long lacked close attention, either in China or overseas. It is devised to pilot a methodology integrating architecture, analytical sciences, history of technology, historical landscape, and the industrial sector serving conservation. The research resource fundamentally consists of two distinct groups: the built evidence in China and the written materials dispersed in Belgium, Britain and the USA, all under-explored/unexplored. Focusing on the bricks and brickworks, it aims at explaining the problems the monumental shift has caused in today’s conservation and how to solve them. It will build scholarly, intersectoral networking across East – West in a constructive way. A series of database will be generated, providing a ground for future development. It can promote the applicable science and technology serving the modern heritage in China, and might challenge present conservation framework led by Europe.