Luke Him Sau, Architect: China’s Missing Modern

Luke Him Sau, Architect: China’s Missing Modern relates the intriguing history of 20th Century Chinese architecture through one of its greatest modern exponents.

Luke Him Sau/Lu Qianshou (1904–1991) is best known internationally and in China as the architect of the iconic Bank of China Headquarters in Shanghai. One of the first Chinese students to be trained at the Architectural Association in London in the late 1920s, Luke’s long, prolific and highly successful career in China and Hong Kong offers unique insights into an extraordinary period of Chinese political turbulence that scuppered the professional prospects and historical recognition of so many of his colleagues.

Global interest in China has risen exponentially in recent times, creating an appetite for the country’s history and culture. This book charts Luke’s life and work, which, owing to prevailing historical conditions, have been largely concealed, both in China and internationally. The book commences with his childhood in colonial Hong Kong and his apprenticeship with a British architectural firm before focusing on his education at the Architectural Association. It then moves on to cover his life in London (where he was offered the post of Head of the Architecture Department at the newly established Bank of China); in Shanghai (where he designed buildings all over China for the Bank before the Japanese invasion in 1937 forced him, and countless others, to flee to central China where he spent eight years); and post-war, when he returned to Shanghai, forming a partnership with four other Chinese graduates, mostly from UK universities. Caused to uproot again in 1949 due to civil war he finally moved back to Hong Kong where, for the third time in his life, he had to establish his career all over again.

Despite the many challenges, Luke eventually prospered, becoming a pioneer in the design of private residences, schools, hospitals, chapels and public housing.

As one of the country’s most distinguished yet overlooked designers, Luke Him Sau, Architect: China’s Missing Modern is a highly engaging and visual account of China’s 20th Century architecture.

Featuring over 250 new colour photographs by Edward Denison of Luke’s buildings, as well as original archive material, it will be of interest to architects, architectural students and those with a cultural interest in Hong Kong and China.

The book is sponsored by the Luke Him Sau Charitable Trust which, in memory of the architect, supports cultural and architectural projects in China.

Luke Him Sau, Architect: China’s Missing Modern is available in hardcover and e-book wherever books are sold.