June 6th, 2020

The book on C. H. Gonda, the architect

I found this upload on issuu and I hope it is authorized. This is the beautiful and comprehensive illustrated book about the archtect C. H. Gonda, released last year, to which yours truly has contributed. The cover, however, makes me want to point out that the architect worked hard to adapt the Cathay Theatre to the asymmetric shape of the lot while creating a symmetrical-looking pile. The resulting building has a very short facade on the right of the ziggurat, and no overhanging second floor there. By tracing the left half of the building and reflecting it along the vertical axis, the designer has achieved a perfectly balanced geometric shape, but unfortunately downplayed the complexity of architectural thinking.

Compare with Gonda's own drawing:

The book focuses on extant buildings located in Shanghai, so it leaves out Gonda's designs of a movie theatre in Tientsin, the Grand Hotel for Hangchow, Shanghai's Luna Park, the interior of the Farren's Night Club, the Royal Theatre in the French Concession, the Queen's Theatre in the International Settlement, and the Cosmopolitan Theatre near the old town.

As a token of hope for a new, expanded, edition yet to come, here is the architect's drawing of the Queen's Theatre on Tibet Road, now rebuilt as the Peace Cinema 和平影都.

Extracts from the book in English and Chinese are here.

All my entries on Gonda are here.