Indigenizing Catholic Architecture in China: From Western-Gothic to Sino-Christian Design, 1900–1940

  • Thomas Coomans


Building churches in China—from the treaty ports to remote villages of the interior—was a concrete act making Christianity physically present in the public space. Choosing a particular architectural style, therefore, was a crucial issue to the missionaries, who interacted daily with Chinese people and local interests. Church builders could not only select precise references in a wide range of Western styles (Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, Classic, Eclectic, and more), but also hybridize Chinese and Western forms, building types, construction techniques, and ornamentation. After the massive destruction of churches during the Boxer Uprising in 1900, discussed in Part 1, most new churches adopted a triumphant Gothic style that, at that time, was considered the best expression of “Christian Civilization.”


Hebei Province Christian Church Western Style Bell Tower Building Church 
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© Cindy Yik-yi Chu 2014

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  • Thomas Coomans

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