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Yeshi Wang on A Pictorial History of World Architecture
24 June, 2021
Luo Xiaowei (1925–2020) is one of the most important scholars who introduced Western architecture to China. She was the first to offer a course on the history of modern foreign architecture in China and wrote several books on this topic, many of which have become standard textbooks for Chinese architecture students. One of the most well-known books is A Pictorial History of World Architecture (1986), which is part of the common memory of a whole generation of architecture students. This thin book is an atlas with drawings and simple explanations of important buildings in various historical periods and regions. Although from today’s point of view, it is a typical textbook-style history writing which simplifies history to a lineal development and denies its complexity. But its importance must be understood in the context of the information shortage at that time, especially graphical information. For Luo, it took great effort to collect these pictures, and for students, the atlas was perhaps the only image source of buildings that they could not visit. This book is a witness to the development of history education and the achievements of Chinese women architectural theorists.