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Constructing New Meanings of Chinese Architectural Heritage in the World Heritage Sites of Malacca Straits

Qing Mei

College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

ABSTRACT  This paper aims to construct new meanings of Chinese architectural heritage in the World Heritage sites of Malacca and Penang in the Malacca Straits. Inscribed in 2008, both sites have a history of more than 600 years of migrating trades and cultural exchanges with China. The influence of Chinese culture has given them diverse urban and architectural assets as tangible heritage, and different life styles of different groups of people as intangible heritage. Starting with a survey of the varied Chinese architectural heritage in the two World Heritage sites of the Malacca Straits, this study presents Chinese temples, huiguans, and shop-houses in the surviving historic city centres where various cultures and religions met and coexisted. These sites bear testimony to a living multi-cultural heritage and the tradition of Malay Archipelago, historic China and India, and modern Europe up to nowadays. Setting the two Wold Heritage sites in the full context of China, India and Southeast Asia which were part of the Maritime Silk Roads in ancient times, the study establishes a broader view to understand heritage as a cultural entity, explores the Chinese contribution to heritage, and calls for awareness towards heritage renovation and adaptive reuse throughout history. Furthermore, through an investigation of the architectural and cultural heritage in Southeast Asia from the 15th to the 19th century, the study intends to achieve a better understanding of the vernacular architecture and craftsmanship in southern China and the vernacular Chinese culture and art in Southeast Asia. It means to explore how Chinese cultural heritage was transplanted to the non-Chinese contexts in the Malacca Straits


KEYWORDS  Malacca, Penang, Chinese architectural heritage, temple, huiguan, shop-house

Received 26 Dec 2016, Accepted 23 Feb 2017

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