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Mr YIMING LIU profile picture
  • Student
  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

Yimingcompleted his undergraduate degree in Architecture at University of Sheffield.He subsequently received a distinction for his MA Architecture and HistoricUrban Environments programme at Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Affiliatedto Centre for Critical Heritage Studies, he is currently pursuing PhD Architecturedegree (History and Theory) at BSA, UCL.


PreviouslyYiming has worked as anarchitectural designer at Tongji Architectural Design and has lectured atSoochow University, Ningbo University and Shanghai Institute of Visual Art. Heis also conducting independent design research on anachronism, architecture andruin theory based on Sir John Soane and English neoclassicism. 

Research Themes
Research Summary

Coloniality existsbecause of decoloniality and the act of identifying coloniality (in space andtime) is part of the decolonisation process. Colonial urbanism is explicitlyinterrogated according to space and its representations of embodiment (port-townsystems, architecture, infrastructure, and those what Lefebvre termed as “afunction of a specific”) that served as outposts of order, control, oppression,discrimination in the “nibbling away” project of colonial occupation.


From John Weddell to MacartneyEmbassy, Opium War to Shanghai Land Regulations, Municipal Council to Paris ofthe Orient, Shanghai as port-town colony had been centre of colonialexpansion to export socio-political and cultural models from legal frames toarchitecture and to localise for foreign autonomy. With a “civilizing” gaze uponthe built environment, Shanghai’s colonial urbanism was important to exemplifythe imperial ambition and advertise the “advance” in “European civilisation” asthe indigenous was treated as primitive, backward and inappropriate in theforms and space of the colony. Although the architecture and urbanism of colonialitywere actively dealt with through strikes, conflicts and wars beforeindependence, these spaces have blended into the everyday life of Shanghailocals, causing awkwardness and contradictions towards the re-adapted coloniallegacy. Built heritage listing officially began in 1980s and representations ofcolonial settlement were enlisted as “Excellent Architectural Heritage”,celebrated for the city’s image building. The city has seemingly reconciledwith its colonial history and developed “objective” approaches in the management,acknowledgement and discourses of colonial built environment that are now putinto question when people are struggling for everyday identity in the newnation-state.


The research investigatesShanghai’s overlooked development of heritage making towards the unsettling colonialhistory and urban landscape. It identifies the coloniality and decoloniality inbuilt heritage and relevant socio-political and cultural fabrics of postcolonialShanghai, confronting the “difficultness” within a mixture of rhetoric through literature,fieldwork, media and interview. Particularly, materials from Chinese academiawere referenced, a statement of academic autonomy and decoloniality, to re-affirmsovereignty in historiography, to identify epistemic and aesthesic constitutionand reconstitution before, during and after semicolonial Shanghai.

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