Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 70 ›› Issue (12): 1987-2000.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201512010

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Reconstruction of Guangzhou urban villages' traditional lineage culture in the context of rapid urbanization:From spatial form of ancestral hall to behavioral patterns of villagers

Wei TAO1,2(), Mingyang CHENG3, Wenying FU1   

  1. 1. School of Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    2. Cultural Industry and Cultural Geography Research Center, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    3. Fdar Consulting Co. Ltd., Beijing 100029, China
  • Received:2014-12-30 Revised:2015-09-22 Online:2015-12-25 Published:2015-12-25


China is a country with exuberant cultural traditions, yet little of which has been paid attention to in rapidly urbanizing context in contemporary China. Lineage refers to the organized group of descendants of a single ancestor by which the lineage membership is determined. Despite the disappearance of many villages in the city, the ancestral hall often survived as the symbolic tie between the single-lineage villagers. Previous studies on Chinese rural restructuring mainly focus on the societal and cultural consequences. What these two aspects in studies of rural areas tend to vanish, or only take it implicitly, is the spatial processes that is closely related to the societal and cultural restructuring. Therefore, this paper intends to apply the sociological architecture thinking in space syntax methodology to explore the social logic behind the transforming spatial character of the typical lineage architecture, the ancestral hall. Taking two typical ancestral halls located respectively in Liede and Zhucun urban villages in Guangzhou as the research objects, the paper has unfolded the relationship between the morphological characteristics and behavioral patterns of villagers. Through field survey and mapping and face-to-face interviews in the Leide and Zhucun villages, it is found that (1) The newly-built ancestral hall in Liede village shows great difference compared with the old one in Zhucun village owing to the need to adapt to the new social functions, which is embodied in such transformation in spatial form as the breaking of axial symmetry pattern and the declining position of the sacred space in the overall spatial organization; (2) The decline and restructuring of spatial functions and the correspondent spatial organization highly conforms to the waning of the lineage consciousness, in which many traditional sacrificing activities are replaced by entertainment activities, and recreation and feasting have become the primary activities for villagers in the ancestral halls. Compared with the old ancestral halls, the newly-built ones in the central locations, as in our Leide case, evolved into non-excluded space that is aimed at profit-generating in the course of urbanization; (3) As the representative for lineage culture, the evolving spatial morphology of the ancestral halls is the intuitive evidence of lineage culture's recession and reconstruction, reflecting the changing mode of villager behaviors; (4) In the time of the couple made??families after the 20th century, the lineage consciousness of villagers is in the gradual recession, especially when the overall cultural environment for traditions has changed drastically. To sum up, the study not only provides new perspective for studying the traditional architectural type and traditional villages, but also in practical terms gives valuable suggestions to the protection and regeneration of traditional architecture and milieu in the context of rapid urbanization.

Key words: rapid urbanization, Guangzhou urban village, space syntax, ancestral hall, lineage culture